Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) is one of my (many) favourite herbs. I’ve been able to grow and propagate this plant quite easily but I am often asked by others why their plant’s leaves have turned brown/fallen off/wilted/it hasn’t survived as well as their other varieties of Sage.
There are many reasons these problems could occur but the main one to remember is that this is a tender evergreen perennial herb and really prefers to be outside in natural sunlight (preferably in a sheltered position for example near the house) during the late spring/summer and indoors into a cool room during the late autumn/winter where it will give you some spectacular flowers at a time of year when most herbs are not in flower. You can also rub the leaves to get their wonderful scent.
The leaves are similar in shape to the more common sage (Salvia officinalis) and it is part of the mint family and is sometimes known as scarlet pineapple. It has lovely tubular deep pink flowers in the winter and brightens up any room or conservatory in the early to mid winter. The leaves have the most delicious pineapple scent when you rub them gently. It is native to the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala.
Propagating Pineapple Sage
I have many pineapple sage plants grown from cuttings mainly because I tried it once a few years ago and it was so easy to do and other members of my family wanted the plant because of its scent and it proved popular when I sold herb plants on stalls in the past.
Now is a good time to get some cuttings established. All you need to do is fill a pot with a mix of equal quantities of compost/soil and sand, the important point is that it drains freely. Water the soil in the pot before putting the cuttings in. The cuttings from the main plant should be about 15 to 20 cm long from a healthy shoot (if it is late in the season and about to flower, pinch out the shoot to encourage root growth). Remove the lower leaves so that once you push the stem into the soil no leaves are in the soil where they could rot. Always use a sharp knife/secateurs to take the cutting.
As soon as you’ve taken the cuttings, push in three to five of them around the edge of the pot(s) and keep the soil damp but not wet. Leave in a cool, frost free place away from direct sunlight. In about a month you should have new growth.
Apparently you can also root cuttings in water but I’ve yet to try this although I know that method works well with rosemary.
Once they become established, make sure you pinch out the tops to encourage branching otherwise it will just get tall with very few leaves.
Cooking With Pineapple Sage
The leaves can be used in your cooking in the following ways:
Pineapple Sage Pound Cake is still on my list to try out too!