Growing Pineapple Sage

 | 

growing pineapple sage

In the Garden

Named for the uncanny pineapple scent of its foliage, pineapple sage is worth the wait. It is a seasonal treat that gives gardeners a sense of anticipation. A small plant set out in spring after the danger of frost has passed will grow into a branching plant 3 to 4 feet tall and nearly as wide by the time it blooms. It will then sprout spires of cardinal-red blooms in late summer and fall, just in time to refuel hummingbirds and butterflies for their fall migration. If you live in an area that does not freeze, blooms will continue all winter and sometimes all year.

Although cold hardy to about 20 degrees, pineapple sage is worth planting each spring in areas where it fails to return for another season. 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.

Soil, Planting, and Care

Hummingbirds are attracted to the red color and trumpet shape of pineapple sage blooms.

Pineapple sage flowers have a distinctive red color and trumpet shape that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies in fall.

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 like Bonnie Herb, Vegetable & Flower Plant Food.

Troubleshooting

Pineapple sage produces bright red to pink flowers in fall.

Pineapple sage is a fall bloomer. In mild climates, blooms may last through winter.

Keep plants watered the first couple of weeks after planting. After that, you should only need to water during drought. Drainage is essential during the growing season, and even more important during the winter if you want plants to return in spring.

Harvest and Storage

Pineapple sage is primarily used fresh. Cuttings are easy to root if you want more plants, or would like to keep a plant indoors for replanting in spring.

Uses

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.

Download our How to Grow Herbs instructions. They are in .PDF format.

FAQs

Is pineapple sage used the same way as my other sage?

Pineapple sage and common sage are related. They are both salvias. Here the resemblance ends. They don’t look alike or grow alike, and they certainly do not taste the same. Consequently, their uses are different. While common sage is well known for its contribution to sausage, poultry dishes, and herb blends, pineapple sage is appealing in fruit and sweet dishes. It has a pineapple-like scent. In addition, the autumn flowers give it an ornamental role in the garden.

Do butterflies like pineapple sage?

Butterflies like plants for nectar plants (for adults) and as host plants (for caterpillars). For nectar, the flowers of many herbs, including pineapple sage, bee balm, purple coneflower, lavender, thyme, feverfew, sage, chives, oregano, Mexican tarragon, mint, basil, and chamomile, provide the nourishment butterflies need. Host plants do require that you be willing to sacrifice as least some of your plants to the chewing of caterpillars, but it’s worth it for butterfly larvae. Herbal host plants include parsley, dill, fennel, rue, and meadow rue (Thalictrum).

Why is my pineapple sage blooming this spring if it’s supposed to bloom in fall?

Plants that are grown or overwintered in a greenhouse may bloom earlier than those settled into the cycle of the seasons. Just count yourself lucky to have such early blooms.

25 thoughts on “Growing Pineapple Sage

  1. Planted one last year, got huge, but did not survive the winter. Or maybe I killed it when I pruned it this spring? Cut pretty short, like one would for most sage, but it was never greening up, so I planted another one. Should I prune back, maybe about half in the fall and mulch, or what else would you suggest I do to save it over winters. Thanks for your help.

    • Hello Carl,
      Pineapple sage is cold hardy to about 20 degrees F. You can mulch the plant well before the cold weather arrives to help it though the winter season. If your winters are consistently 20 degrees F or less (brrrrr!), plant it in a container that can be moved to a protected area to help it overwiner.
      -danielle, Bonnie Plants

    • Hello Jo Anne,
      Go with a pot deep enough for the roots – I like to use a pot at least a foot deep if not bigger. Pineapple sage can grow upwards of 3 feet tall and wide so be prepared to go with a big container now :) – danielle, Bonnie Plants

  2. Just bought one of these…made a pineapple sage simple syrup to use in lemonades, iced teas, and fruity cocktails. Yummy! Also used it in a pineapple-mango salsa that I put over grilled fish and citrus marinaded steak. AMAZING! I want to know the best way to plant/maintain it to get the most use out of it…I usually plant in containers in doors since we rent and my last outdoor container garden was stolen :( I have a huge bay window in my kitchen that gets full morning to early afternoon sun. Can it be planted with other herbs or does it do better on its own. Thank you!

    • Oh no, I can’t believe someone would take your containers :( Under good conditions, pineapple sage can get over 3 feet high and wide – so you can see they will take up a lot of space in a container. When you do plant it, be sure and use a container at least 18 inches in diameter and use a good potting mix. It can be planted with other herbs, but you would need a larger container. If you have to keep the pineapple sage indoors, rotate the pot, so all sides recieve sun. Light is the limiting factor when growing salvias inside. Don’t forget to fertilize and water when the top inch or so of soil has started to dry. Keeping it healthy means more fruity cocktails :) – Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  3. Hello! This is such a helpful forum. Thank you. I just bought a Bonnie Pineapple Sage and plan to plant it outdoors in a sunny area. I live in 10a Sarasota, FL. Our plants have automatic watering with a drip hose–maybe 3 times a week (in our neighborhood). This is not under my control. Do you think it will do OK with this much water–or should I try potting in an 18″ pot. Thank you so much, in advance for your advice. Can’t wait to experience this flowering plant!

    • Hi Carla,
      This will depend on how much water the plants recieve through the drip hose and how well your soil drains. Pineapple sage will thrive in a moist soil…drainage is the key! I have sage interplanted in my vegetable garden- which is drip irrigated and it grows well. From the above article…Keep plants watered the first couple of weeks after planting. After that, no special attention is needed except for watering during drought. However, if the soil is heavy and wet, the plant may die. Although drainage is essential during the growing season, it is most important during the winter if you want plants to return in spring. Check your soil to see if dries out some between being irrigated or if the soil stays soggy. Stay away from the soggy soils.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  4. My pineapple sage is three feet tall and in a protected space……it appears to be dead. Do I cut it back or wait until new growth appears at the bottom? It has been planted for at least three years and I’ve forgotten how to care for it.

    • Hello Eve,
      Pineapple sage is a tender perennial in zones 7 – 10. The tops may die back only to return from the roots. If the top growth is brown, you can cut it all back and wait to see if it comes back. In areas with very cold winters, zone 6 and below, pineapple sage may not come back the next year.
      -Danielle, Bonnie Plants

  5. Does Bonnie Plants sell this as a potted plant or in seed packets? Been trying to find it near St. Louis for a couple of years now.

    • We sell this as a potted plant. We don’t sell any seeds in packets. Look for it about April in your area, and use this ZIP code finder to locate stores in your area: http://find.bonnieplants.com. It’s worth planting — for you and the hummingbirds! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  6. A chef gave me a small clipping over a year ago. It has just flowered for the first time, 12 inches tall, and seems to do well indoors. I am curious if it will want to branch off now that its flowered? If so I may need to plan it in a larger pot, outdoors. But I would like to keep it indoors for now, esp since winter just began. Did not know about using it for tea. Ill give it a try ~thanks.

    • Hi Christa,
      You will want to keep it indoors until temperatures are warmer this spring. Pineapple sage is a very vigorous grower and will continue to grow in height beyond 12″. You might try potting it up in a larger pot, about 18″ in diameter. Enjoy! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  7. I am loving my pineapple sage in my SF Bay Area front yard…it’s beautiful and huge! In fact, it’s so big it’s blocking a young lemon tree. I will need to trim it back…any suggestions?

    • Hi Ellen,
      It does get pretty large and showy this time of year! Hopefully you are trimming it back little-by-little in harvesting for teas, recipes or cut flower arrangements? Definitely use your cuttings. You can cut the stems back at any point during growth; perhaps be careful not to cut far down into the woodiest part of the stem (stay on the tender, green parts). Here’s another article about Pineapple Sage you might find useful. ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  8. I just received my first ever pineapple-sage plant..looks like it was a transplant..it is Aug 15 in CT.. i have a large garden and patio pots..which do you think I should try? I have amazing luck with the black and blue salvia..the sage looks to be in the same family..true? i have read guite abit about plant needs well drained soil..should try to plant when I hear back!! thanks

    • Hi Nancy,
      You will love it! The red blooms are a gift and the leaves can be used in recipes. You can plant in ground or in a container; just be sure the container is at least 18″ in diameter as it will grow quite large. It will flourish until frost. And in my own garden, I have it planted right next to my black and blue salvia. Great minds! ~Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

      • I just received my first ever pineapple-sage plant..looks like it was a transplant..it is Aug 15 in CT.. i have a large garden and patio pots..which do you think I should try? I have amazing luck with the black and blue salvia..the sage looks to be in the same family..true? i have read guite abit about plant needs well drained soil..should try to plant when I hear back!! thanks

        ok i am wondering now if I should be saving my salvia indoors over winter….or are they both mostly annuals? some of the posts i read they can be saved..never thought to do that with my salvia!! interesting!

        • Nancy, I think most gardeners have success with pineapple sage overwintering in Zones 7 and higher. Check what zone you are in with this U.S. Map. My guess is that it gets too cold where you are in CT and you might try growing in containers and pulling into the garage during the winter. It’s worth a try, right? Happy growing, Mary Beth, Bonnie Plants

  9. my pineapple sage’s new growth is really pale white to almost translucent with some curl to some of the leaves outer edge. its planted in a 5gal pot with good potting soil amended with some compost and earthworm castings. its been raining a lot here in FL but it has great drainage. i

    • Hi Ceez,

      The leaf curl and paling of the leaves is likely from the excess water from the rainfall, which stresses the plant and leaches the nitrogen out of the soil. I think it will recover once you resume your regular watering routine. Remember that sage likes it on the drier side of things. Your potting soil probably has a time release fertilizer in it, but if not, you could feed the plant with a liquid fertilizer such as our Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food. I hope this helps!

      Kelly, Bonnie Plants

  10. My pineapple sage is potted. It has been about 5 wks since planting. Now the bottom leaves have turned yellow and the ones above those are a purple-green. Is this nomal?

    • Hi Mia,

      Pineapple sage needs good drainage and doesn’t need a lot of water after it’s established. Did you use good potting mix in your container? And does your container have drainage holes? I am not sure how much water you’ve been giving it, but you can hold back on watering and see if it perks back up.

      Kelly, Bonnie Plants

Comments are closed.