Calling All Hummingbirds! Pineapple Sage
Hummingbirds birds are on the move, either fleeing a volcanic eruption in Iceland or just heading down south for the winter. In either case, they're looking for nectar-laden flowers to fuel their journey and keep them from dropping from the skies like little winged crullers. And here's one plant they love -- pineapple sage.
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is absolutely one of the prettiest and easiest to grow herbs around. Its fragrant leaves smell like fresh pineapple, so you can use them to flavor drinks the same way you'd use mint. You can get big, blooming plants at the garden center now, but typically you start in spring with a small potted plant. Give it sun, good soil, and reasonably moist soil and it grows fast. By fall, it will be a large, rangy bush 4 to 5 feet high crowned with wands of scarlet flowers. Pinch it back every now and then through summer to make more stems and, hence, more flowers. It begins blooming in September and continues all the way through October until a hard freeze.
I spotted this regal beauty yesterday in the Lexington, Kentucky garden of my friends, Jon Carloftis and Dale Fisher. (You'll see their fabulous garden in Southern Living next summer.) Its red, tubular blossoms are a magnet for both hummers and butterflies.
What Happens After A Freeze? Pineapple sage is winter-hardy in the Lower, Coastal, and Tropical South (USDA 8-10). North of there, it isn't, unless you mulch it with 8 inches of Gore-Tex. However, cuttings are easy to root in water or moist potting soil, so if you don't want to buy a new plant next spring, root cuttings indoors and keep them by a sunny window until spring.
While you're at the garden center, keep an eye out for this new pineapple sage from Proven Winners.
Egad! I've gone blind! It's a new pineapple sage with bright yellow leaves called 'Golden Delicious.' It grows just as big and easily as the regular one, but I advise wearing sunglasses while admiring it. I didn't so...................could you drop a few coins in my basket? Thanks!
Click here for a list of other nice plants that attract hummingbirds.