Sunday

How to Grow Pineapple Sage


The trumpet-like red flowers of pineapple sage.
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is an underrated herb in the garden. It doesn't need much attention, but has a lot to offer. It will grow up to five feet tall, and its bright leaves are a delicate shade of green all summer long. It produces slender, trumpet shaped red flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, too.

Did I mention that it really does smell like pineapple? You may be skeptical about the fragrance. After all, the orange and chocolate mints may smell like their namesakes, but only if you concentrate really hard and use your imagination. Pineapple sage, on the other hand, really smells pineapple-y, and it's also an attractive plant in its own right.

Uses for Pineapple Sage


It has quite a few uses, too. It makes a very tasty cold or hot tea. It can be chopped into fruit and vegetable salads (yum). It also has beautiful, edible flowers with a sweet taste. A sprig of pineapple sage as a garnish can make a dish of ice cream or slice of cheesecake look almost decadent. I like to chop it into mild bell pepper salsa and mince a little on pizza.

Growing Pineapple Sage

A half hardy perennial (all weather in zones 8-11), pineapple sage likes well drained, rich soil and lots of light -- six hours a day or more. It needs regular watering. If you do forget to water it, or it starts to droop on brutally hot days. It will sometimes recover, unlike, say, catnip, which is usually down for the count once it begins to show signs of stress.

Give pineapple sage plenty of room to grow. Four feet spacing between plants isn't too much. After it matures, it'll make a nice backdrop for your other herbs. It might also need staking, especially in areas where it's exposed to windy conditions now and then. You can cut it back any time during the growing season if it starts to get rangy (which it will).

Growing Pineapple Sage in a Patio Pot

A potted pineapple sage on my back deck.
Potted pineapple sage can make a dramatic statement on a deck or patio. That's one in the picture.  Just remember to use a large pot, 12 - 14 inches, and provide good drainage.  If you're temps get into the 90s in summer, mulch the plant and consider giving it partial shade if it starts to droop in the late afternoons.

Growing Pineapple Sage Indoors

You can bring pineapple sage indoors in the fall to overwinter in a sunny window. It won't tolerate a hard frost, so put it on your watch-list when overnight temps start to drop. To prep it for the move, cut it back by two-thirds. Don't harvest leaves over the winter months, either. You should be able to keep it indoors through the summer months too, but don't expect the plant to reach its full size.

Propagating Pineapple Sage

Propagate pineapple sage from cuttings whenever possible. They'll root quickly and easily. Take four inch cuttings and remove all but the top two leaves. Almost any growing medium will work, but I prefer sand. I just place the cuttings in a plastic bag a third full of sand. I put the bag in an eastern facing window for a few weeks and make sure to keep the sand moist at all times. Some of my cutting have rooted in as little as four days. If  I think about it, I roll the cut ends in cinnamon (the poor man's rooting compound).

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Photo 1 - By Eric Hunt (Own work (own photo)) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Salvia_elegans.jpg

9 comments:

  1. I too love pineapple sage - many years ago my mother-in-law gave me a plant and I used to make a herbal tea with it, sometimes adding lemon balm. i loved it's beautiful red flower and it made my tea such a pretty colour. We don't have enough room for one now but at my next place we will......I hope ;-)

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  2. Anonymous10:56:00 PM

    You are so right about the scent...there is nothing left to the imagination...you ARE smelling pineapple!

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  3. Anonymous10:02:00 PM

    I love pineapple sage! I have one plant in my herb garden that is HUGE (in Zone 11). I just planted three more to serve as a beautiful border between my upper and lower gardens.

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  4. Sounds beautiful. I particularly like the bright red flowers. The butterflies love them.

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  5. Anonymous5:51:00 PM

    Our cat loves sniffing it too.

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  6. Anonymous9:44:00 AM

    Each year or so I buy new pineapple sage plants. I crystalize the fresh blooms, however I never quite knew what to do with the sage itself. I am glad to read all the ideas for tea and seasonings in a variety of food. It grows so large and splendid I have enjoyed watching and waiting for the flowers to bloom. Now I can harvest the leaves and try these interesting ideas for flavors and dishes.

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  7. Anonymous10:05:00 PM

    i cooked rhubarb and apple on the weekend, and i added a few finely chopped pineapple sage leaves - leftover from pruning - delicious........

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  8. Anonymous9:38:00 PM

    Will the deer eat this herb and if the answer is yes, what can I do to discourage them.

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  9. Pineapple sage is deer and bunny proof. Dear don't like rosemary or lavender, either. They also steer clear of Russian sage and bee balm.

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