PINEAPPLE SAGE IS GREAT FOR LATE SEASON HUMMERS AND MORE

        There are at least 60 species of salvias.  In addition, more than 50 cultivars of these popular plants are also available.  There are so many varieties of salvias available it is difficult for Georgia gardeners to decide which are best for their gardens.  If you are looking for salvia that blooms late from late summer into fall and provides nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies, native bees and other pollinators, I recommend you plant pineapple sage (Salvia elegans).

       This plant is native in Central America.  Here in Georgia it is  either a tender perennial or annual.  While it is susceptible to cold weather, some gardeners report that when mulched it can survive winter temperatures that plummet as low as 5˚F.

       One of the things I like about pineapple sage is that it begins blooming late in the summer and will continue producing blooms until the frost ends its growing season.  Consequently, in autumn, it is providing nectar when it is often a scarce commodity.

       Although ruby-throated hummingbirds have been gone from our yard for weeks, they did nectar at the plants long tubular-shaped blooms before they left.  However, the main beneficiaries of its nectar are now cloudless sulphur and sleepy orange butterflies, and native bees.

       Over the years, many folks that have been lucky enough to attract wintering hummingbirds have told me that rufous hummingbirds frequent the pineapple sage’s striking red blossoms.

       Pineapple sage grows to be 3-4 feet tall and 3-4′ wide.  It seems to prosper in spots bathed in both morning and afternoon sunshine.  Pineapple sage also needs frequent watering. In addition, they do best in rich, well-drained soil.

       The plants are easily propagated from cuttings.  Young plants should be transplanted as soon as the threat of frost has passed in your neck of the woods.

       As you might expect, the blooming period in the southern half of the state is considerably long that it is in Middle and North Georgia.  However, regardless of how long is blooms, when it is blooming it provides pollinators with a valuable source of food while at the same time adding beauty to our yards.

                 Cloudless Sulphur on Pineapple Sage

       My wife and I bring our potted plants inside in the winter.  The pineapple sage growing in our yard is mulched during the winter.

       With the freezing weather forecast during the next several days, it is time for us to protect our pineapple sage before it is too late: This is one plant we do not want to lose.

3 thoughts on “PINEAPPLE SAGE IS GREAT FOR LATE SEASON HUMMERS AND MORE

  1. It certainly is a great plant. We’ve had a large one for many years here in Fitzgerald. Red spike is also a great late season plant. Our plants are still blooming and is located next to our Amistad salvia which is still blooming also. We still have an unknown variety of hummingbird taking in nectar from these plants.

  2. Just saw our first winter hummingbird visitor on our feeder yesterday (11/27/21) but I’m fairly sure the Pineapple Sage, which is still 5+’ tall and blooming in my front yard pollinator garden, was the first beacon to get the hummer’s attention. After I bought 3 more plants this spring I discovered that one of last year’s plants had survived and was already a foot high. The new plants are now potted and the one in the ground shows no sign of stopping any time soon despite frost damage to plants further up-hill.

    • Simone,

      Thanks for taking time to report your experience with pineapple sage. I suspect your first winter hummingbird visitor is a rufous, but you never know it might be something else. If you live in the upper part of the state, you might want to mulch around the plants you have growing in the ground. This will greatly enhance their ability to withstand cold weather. Just remember to remove the mulch before the next growing season.

      Terry

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