in Tucson, Phoenix,
Arizona and California

Gardening in Tucson, Phoenix, Arizona and California

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Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage

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Form: Herb.
Lifespan: Perennial.
Leaf retention: Evergreen but freeze- and drought-deciduous.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 3-4' high and 2-3' wide.
Flowers: Red, narrow, tubular, with narrow lower lip and horizontal upper lip, on terminal spikes, edible.
Bloom: Spring into fall or fall into spring, depending on local climate. Tends to bloom heavily, then lightly, in alternate years.
Fruit: Up to four tiny seeds at the base of each dried calyx (cup-like structure that holds the flower and ovary).
Leaves: Green, ovate, serrated margins, softly fuzzy, pineapple-scented, especially when crushed, edible.
Stems: Square, no thorns.
Roots: Spreads by rhizomes. Somewhat invasive.
Wildlife: Attracts large butterflies and hummingbirds. May be browsed by mammals.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: Mexico and Guatemala, in mountains at forest edges.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 8-11.
Heat tolerant: Yes but needs afternoon shade in hottest part of year.
Drought tolerant: Once established, 2-4 weeks.
Sun: Full sun with afternoon shade to part shade all day.
Water once established: In full sun, weekly to twice a week. In part shade, once or twice a month. Wilting signals insufficient water, deep watering reduces watering frequency. Wet soil induces root rot. Best in raised garden beds.
Soil: Very well drained, slightly moist to dry, pH 6.1-8.5 (slightly acidic to alkaline).
Mulch: In areas with too much sun, and at start of winter in regions with freezing temperatures.
Planting: Can be grown in containers and brought indoors in regions with winter freezes.
Prune: Cut to ground at start of winter.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Tip cuttings in spring, or seed no more than one year old.
Uses: Ornamental, wildlife attractor. Fresh leaves used for tea. Edible flowers used for salads.

Former scientific name Salvia rutilans. A member of the mint family. If not available as a potted herb, it can be purchased as seed. The butterfly is a giant swallowtail.

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Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - flowers

Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - leaves

Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - with butterfly