Lepechinia fragrans 'El Tigre' (CA Native)
Lepechinia fragrans ‘El Tigre’ is a lesser known, harder to find salvia, but no less beautiful! Also known as ‘Pitcher Sage,’ you can find this California native hanging out in chaparral, dry ravines, and rocky slopes. L. fragrans is native to the Coast Ranges and the Channel Islands.
This woody, herbaceous shrub is part of the mint family. It has large, velvety gray-green leaves that are squared off at the base. In the spring and late summer, clusters of tubular, white to pale pink lavender blooms nod gracefully from an arching stem. It has a fast to moderate growth rate and can grow up to 6 ft. tall and wide.
Plant in full sun and partial shade in the hottest climates. It has low water needs once established. You’ll want to irrigate more in hotter regions. L. fragrans tolerates a variety of soils. You can prune to help shape the plant, but be careful not to over-prune. Pinching the plant back helps form a denser growth habit.
In the home garden, it is usually planted as a hedge. Heuchera, gooseberry, ceanothus, and different oak trees are great companion plants for L. fragrans.
The fragrant leaves of L. fragrans are edible and makes a delicious iced tea. You don’t have to worry about deer nibbling on your plant because it is almost never browsed by them! Blooms attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
Although the State of California has not officially listed L. fragrans as a threatened or endangered plant. The California Native Plant Society lists it as a plant of limited distribution as it is threatened by ongoing development and fire management. It is rare to find in nurseries.
The Sunset Western Garden zones are: zones 7-9, 14-24
We are currently growing Lepechinia fragrans ‘El Tigre’ in 1 gallon and 5 gallon containers. Check out our availability for more information!