Salvia Elegans – Pineapple Sage – Tangerine Sage
Salvia elegans, commonly called pineapple sage or tangerine sage, is a perennial shrub native to Mexico and Guatemala. It inhabits Madrean and Mesoamerican pine-oak forests between 6,000 and 9,000 ft (1,800 and 2,700 m). Salvia elegans has tubular red flowers and an attractive scent to the leaves that is similar to pineapple. It produces numerous erect leafy stems and flowers in the late autumn that are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies.
t is a short-day plant. The flowering season in Mexico is August onward; further north it may not flower till later autumn, and if there are no frosts, it may flower till spring.
The variety “Honey Melon”, which has the same pineapple fragrance in the leaves, blooms early in the summer, rather than in autumn.
2017 from small plant
Diseases and Problems:
Pineapple sage is primarily used fresh. Clip pineapple sage leaves to use in summer beverages such as herbal teas or cocktails, muddled with lime juice, or chopped on fruit salad including its namesake, pineapple. The red flowers are nice tossed into a green salad, too.
Pineapple sage leaves are often used dried or fresh in teas.
The leaves and flowers of S. elegans are edible. The plant is extensively used in Mexican traditional medicine, especially for the treatment of anxiety, and also for lowering of blood pressure. Although scientific information about these medicinal properties is scarce, a preliminary study on mice found support for the plant potentially having antidepressant and antianxiety properties. Pineapple sage has also been shown to have a dose-dependent antihypertensive effect, attributed to its action as an angiotensin II receptor antagonist and inhibitor of the angiotensin converting enzyme.
Harvesting: Pick leaves at any point in the growing season. Young leaves have strongest flavor and are most tender. Harvest blooms at any time, although newly opened ones are freshest. Clip whole stems for bouquets. To harvest, cut an entire stem if desired, or just pinch a leaf or blossom at a time.
Storage: Stems will keep in a water-filled vase for a few days. Or store in the refrigerator by wrapping fresh leaves and flowers in a barely damp paper towel and tucking into a closed plastic bag or container. Use flowers within 2 days, leaves within 2 to 4 days. For longer storage, it is possible to dry leaves and blooms, but flavor is best fresh.
- Type: Perennial in zones 8 to 10
- Planting time: Spring
- Features: Nectar-rich red flowers in late summer and fall, pineapple-scented foliage
- Light: Full sun
- Soil: Fertile, moist but well drained
- Plant spacing: 24 to 36 inches
- Plant size: 3 to 4 feet tall, 2 to 3 feet wide
In cultivation, pineapple sage grows to 1.2 to 1.5 m (3.9 to 4.9 ft) tall, with the roots extending underground to form a large clump. The pale yellow-green leaves are veined, and covered with fine hairs. Six to twelve scarlet flowers grow in whorls, with a long inflorescence that blooms gradually and over a prolonged period of time.
Pineapple sage requires a place in the sunshine where the soil is well drained but moist and rich enough to support its rapid growth. Space plants 24 to 36 inches apart, and be sure not to plant them in front of other, smaller plants, as pineapple sage will grow large enough to block them out! Fertilize at planting with timed-released granules (these should carry the plant through the season), or follow up with a liquid plant food
With a hard frost, the plant will die down to the ground and grow back the following spring.
If effected by the cold try growing pineapple sage in sandy or otherwise sharply drained soil, which may allow it to tolerate colder temperatures by going dormant and sprouting new growth in spring.
Hardines: cold hardy to about 20F / -6/7 C degrees.perennial in zones 8 to 10, and gardeners in zones 6 to 7 treat it as a tender perennial, mulching crowns heavily after frost and hoping for the best. Established plants can survive a few frosts (above 28º F) and keep blooming. Use a frost blanket to protect newly planted seedlings from late spring frosts or prolong the growing season in fall.
Propagation: Cuttings are easy to root if you want more plants, or would like to keep a plant indoors for replanting in spring.
By dividing the rootball
From herbaceous stem cuttings
Containers: Adapts well to containers, but use a large pot—at least 12 inches (bigger is even better)
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed