Pineapple Sage for Cool-Season Butterflies

Jill Staake

It’s no secret that most salvia species are great nectar providers for butterflies and hummingbirds. One of my favorites is Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans), which is perfect for cool-season butterfly gardens in zones 8 – 11 because it only blooms as days grow short and nights grow long. In its native Mexico, it begins blooming August, but further north it may not bloom until September or later. Once it gets going, though, it blooms straight through till spring, unless killed to the ground by a freeze.

Butterflies and hummingbirds are drawn to the colorful nectar-rich flowers (in Mexico, it’s been noted as one of the three most popular hummingbird plants!), but people love this sage for the sweetly-scented foliage. The crushed leaf really does smell and even taste like pineapple, and it’s great in salads or teas.

Want to try it? Pineapple Sage is rarely grown from seed, so either buy it as a plant or start it from tip cuttings from a friend in the spring. One plant will spread and can be divided over the years as well. Grow it in full sun to part shade and water it well during dry periods. Treat it as a perennial in zones 8 – 11 (it will come back from the roots after a freeze), or as an annual in lower zones.

Do you grow Pineapple Sage for butterflies (or yourself)? Tell us about it in the comments!

  1. says

    This is one of my most favorite plants in my side garden. Most people have never heard of it…I love….it grows well and always comes back. I didn’t realize that the butterflies also like it.

  2. Kendra says

    I started a small plant earlier this spring in a planter. I live in zone 5. I’m bloomed until the summer heat kicked into full gear.
    Then it stopped. Hope that the days are cooler it will start blooming again. How would I go about taking top cuttings to keep for next spring?

  3. Elizabeth Cawein says

    i love my pineapple sage. It gets bigger every year. It has not started to bloom yet this year on Sept. 15 (in Memphis, TN) I keep checking everyday.

  4. Carol Tyson says

    I planted it for the first time this year, it is now just starting to bloom. And more blooms are coming, I live in New Jersey which is zone 6, so I don’t know if it will come back next year. I had never heard of it until my sister in Florida told me about it. I am glad I will get to see it bloom.

  5. Deborah says

    I planted my Pineapple Sage last year and found it to grow quite tall. About 4-5 feet. Though it did not bloom until well
    into October. Unfortunately, too late for the Hummer’s to enjoy!
    It did winter-over, considering the mild winter we had this past year. I’m currently waiting for buds to appear at this time.
    I live near the coast of MA. Zone: 6/7

    P.S. Good luck to you, Carol T.

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