I believe that adding pollen and nectar rich non-natives enhances a pollinator habitat...especially the ones that bloom in mid fall. Our middle south growing season is long; bees that are provisioning their nests for the winter and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds need all the help that they can get in blooming plants. Pineapple sage is especially valuable at this time of year. This fabulous native of South America blooms in early fall just when the garden needs a jolt of delicious red and the hummers moving south need nectar to fuel their flight.
Salvia elegans is culinary plant that I don't even think about eating. Even if they are said to be tasty in a salad, I won't be picking the flowers, not after waiting all season for them to bloom.
|The Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae nectaring on Salvia elegans|
|I think of Pineapple sage as a hummingbird and butterfly plant and was surprised to see this bee nectaring.|
|Critters beware! A Crab spider is lurking.|
The Particulars in case you wanted more info!
Family: Lamiaceae with typical characteristics of opposite leaves and square stems.
Genus/species: Salvia elegans
Common Name: pineapple sage
Type: Herbaceous/shrubby perennial
Zone zones 8 to 10:
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Leaves: ovate, soft-hairy, light green (to 3” long).
Flower: Two-lipped bright scarlet red flowers (to 1” long), in loose whorls, bloom on terminal spikes to 8” long from late summer into fall.
Bloom Time: August to October
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium, well draining
Comments: An easy peasy plant for middle south and southern gardens. Folks gardening further north might have to move it inside to appreciate the bloom. They may bloom too late for hummers, but, you can enjoy the beauty and add the flowers to your salads. I have been known to cover them when a frost is forecast and warm weather is expected to return.
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies and bees
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.