Pina Colada, Anyone?

This post, “Pina Colada, Anyone?” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

There is one plant that always reminds me of pina coladas every time I touch it.  The heavenly-scented herb I am referring to is pineapple sage( Salvia elegans).  It can make a hot summer day seem cooler by just rubbing your hands on the foliage and releasing that cool, pineapple scent.  But, that’s not all, it makes a great garnish on pina coladas and pineapple sherbet and can be used to make an herbal tea.

The fantastic aroma isn’t the only nice thing about this plant.  It has dozens and dozens of bright red blossoms that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  Down South it will start blooming in the early summer.   It also grows very quickly and makes a nice mounded plant about three feet high.

I have grown the regular variety for years, and it just can’t be beat.  It is a tender perennial which is supposed to be hardy to 20 degrees, but I have had it overwinter with no problems.  Of course, I cover the base with a thick layer of pine straw.  I have read where it often will return from the roots after a hard freeze.  It is very easy to propagate this sage.  Cuttings root quickly in water; they have also layered themselves in the garden.

Last year I found a variety called “Golden Delicious” which has chartreuse to gold leaves.  I planted this in the same bed with a Marguerite sweet potato vine, and the two complemented each other nicely.  I cut back the frost damaged stems in late December, and already it has put out a tremendous amount of new growth.

This is a great plant to have in your garden, just make sure you have it where you can reach out easily to rub the leaves to release that pina colada smell.

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6 Comments

  1. February 28, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I love it too and wonderful ideas you posted for it. Golden Delicious won first prize at our State Fair either last year or the year before.

    I’m not surprised that Golden Delicious won; it is a great plant – wonderful folliage color, flowers, and aroma.

  2. Phillip said,

    February 28, 2008 at 8:28 am

    I love it too but it is sometimes hard to find here. It seems like nurseries have it some years and they won’t have it the next. It rarely overwinters for me so I have to replace it every year. If I can find some this year, I’d like to plant a big patch of it. It would be an attention grabber in the fall for sure.

    You might want to try and take some cuttings before a big freeze or cut it back and cover it up if it is hard to find a replacement. It really does make a great statement in the fall garden. I guess I am lucky that it has overwintered for me for so many years.

  3. Brenda Kula said,

    February 28, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    I have not been able to save my pineapple sage, and I live in Tyler, Texas. Perhaps I should have tried the mulch you mention. It is definitely my favorite smelling herb, and I buy some to put in containers every year.
    Brenda Kula

    If a big freeze is predicted, I cut it back and cover it with about 5 inches of pine straw. I have even covered it with newspapers and a overturned pot, and that, too, has protected it. So far, these actions have saved the pineapple sage for another year.

  4. February 29, 2008 at 1:18 am

    Hi Jan,

    My pineapple sage has lived through this winter so far – I have it in a couple of places so usually at least one area is okay. We don’t always get that cold, but it hates wet clay in a rainy year.

    I haven’t seen the ‘Golden Delicious’ version yet.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    I wish I could have come home from work in time to take pictures of Golden Delicious before it was too dark. It has a great color.

  5. cottagerswife said,

    February 29, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I have never heard of this herb, but you have entirely convinced me. Now I only hope I can find it!

    It should be fairly easy to find. It is a pretty common herb.

  6. eve said,

    June 6, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    I am growing it for the first time this year,,,I had to idea what to do with it,,,I”ll have to try the tea….but I just loved the scent..my SIL came over the other day and was checking out my herbs,,,she rubbed one of the leaves,,and just fell in love with it. She was wondering if you could use it in homemade bath products. I see no reason why you couldn’t unless you have an allergy to it.


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