Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing 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 to orange, 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. It 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 cross-section, no thorns.
Roots: Spreads by rhizomes. Somewhat invasive.
Wildlife: Attracts medium to 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 it needs afternoon shade in the hottest part of the year.
Drought tolerant: Once established, it can go without water 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. This plant does 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 the ground at the start of winter.
Litter: Low.
Propagation: Tip cuttings in spring, or seed no more than one year old.
Uses: Ornamental, wildlife attractor, culinary. The fresh leaves are used for tea, the flowers are used in salads for color. For other culinary mint plants, see Low Water Culinary Herbs.

This plant is a member of the Mint family (Lamiaceae). If not available as a potted herb, it can be purchased as seed. The butterflies are a southern dogface and a giant swallowtail.

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Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - flowers

Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - with Southern Dogface butterfly

Salvia elegans: Pineapple Sage - with Giant Swallowtail butterfly

Latest update: March, 2020
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