Salvias (sages) are a wide-ranging group of plants native to a variety of habitats around the world. What they seem to have in common are brightly colored, tubular shaped flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies just love. This particular Sage is no exception, and has the added bonus of sweet smelling leaves that give off a pineapple scent (hence the name). The leaves and flowers are both edible, and are usually used fresh.
A handy growing summary chart is at the end of the article.
Pineapple Sage (a.k.a. Elegant Sage) is considered a perennial in zones similar to its native Mexico. In zones 6-7, it may be able to survive the winter if properly mulched and protected but expect the foliage to die back to the ground. Colder than that and it is less likely to make it. One other trait it shares with other salvias is that it does not tolerate wet soil. Pineapple sage likes regular moisture, but make sure it has good drainage.
This plant grows tall and wide, about 3-4 feet in all directions, but the stems are kind of spindly, and can flop a bit under the weight of all of its flowers. I usually chop mine down to 1 1/2 – 2 feet after it has finished its blooming to keep it more manageable. It is a great plant for the back of the border, but it may not be visible for a while depending on how it handled the winter. Never fear, it will grow and put on an excellent show of profuse blooms of crimson red in mid- to late-fall.
It is really easy to propagate, should you want more plants. Just take cuttings and stick them either in a cup of water, or in a pot of damp soil until it roots. It likes full sun, but mine gets a fair amount of morning shade and hasn’t complained.
Hummingbirds and other pollinators absolutely love this plant, and given the time of year that it blooms, it becomes a great nutrient source for them. In fact, in mild winter areas it will bloom for much of the winter, providing crucial food. The little tubsy-ubsy in the pictures actually chases off other hummingbirds that dare to come feed from this plant!
Some uses for your Pineapple Sage:
- Put some leaves in a glass of iced tea and lightly crush them to release the flavor.
- Replace the basil in my basil jelly recipe with pineapple sage for a jelly with a tropical taste.
- Chop leaves and add to a fruit salad.
- Use the flowers as an edible garnish for fruit salads or green salads.
- The flowers are great for a fragrant floral arrangement.
- Sprinkle the flowers and chopped leaves over a fruity sorbet or scoop of vanilla ice cream as an edible dessert garnish.
- And, of course, the plant makes an excellent living hummingbird feeder for your garden!
- Evergreen, but may die back in cold weather
- Flower Color: red
- Height: up to 4 feet
- Width: up to 4 feet
- Sun: full sun, or part shade in hotter regions
- Water: drought tolerant, tolerates more water with well drained soils
- Soil pH: 6.5 – 7.5
- Soil type: needs well drained if there is heavy water
- Key nutrients: balanced, potassium for flowering
- Planting time: after threat of frost has passed