With its bright red flowers and fragrant foliage, pineapple sage provides a treat both for the eyes and the nose. This large, shrubby plant is clothed in bright green leaves that smell distinctly like pineapple when crushed. The showy tubular flowers are borne in spikes at the stem tips, blooming from late summer into early autumn. Pineapple sage is a tender perennial or subshrub—it’s winter-hardy only in the warmest zones, but gardeners everywhere can enjoy it as an annual. Container-grown plants can be brought indoors before frost and overwintered in a cool, bright room or greenhouse.
Common name: Pineapple sage
Botanical name: Salvia elegans
Plant type: Herbaceous perennial or subshrub
Zones: 8 to 10
Height: 3 to 5 feet
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Average; moist but well-drained is ideal
• Moisture: Evenly moist but not soggy
• Mulch: An inch or two of organic mulch
• Pruning: Pinch new growth lightly to shape plant.
• Fertilizer: Apply diluted soluble fertilizer monthly during the summer.
Pests and diseases
• ‘Golden Delicious’ has striking yellow-chartreuse foliage that really sets off the bright red flowers.
• ‘Honey Melon’ is a bit more compact (3 feet) and blooms earlier than the species.
• ‘Scarlet Pineapple’ has slightly larger flowers than the species.
• Pineapple sage flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
• Stem cuttings of pineapple sage root readily. In cold climates, a good way to keep the plant going is to root cuttings in late summer, then overwinter the potted cuttings indoors.
• Put a container of pineapple sage near a doorway so you can brush your hand through the foliage on your way in or out of the house.
• Use its leaves in cooking.
All in the family
• Pineapple sage is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), a large family of mostly herbaceous plants.
• Many mint family members (including pineapple sage) have square stems.
• Many Salvia species and cultivars are grown as garden ornamentals.
Where to buy
• Avant Gardens, Dartmouth MA; 508-998-8819; www.avantgardensne.com/
• Pantry Garden Herbs, Cleveland MO; (816) 899-2536; http://pantrygardenherbs.com
• Sweet Nectar Nursery, Battle Ground WA; 360-624-4901; www.sweetnectarnursery.com