We love salvia in My Florida Backyard, and the butterflies love it too. Back in June, we bought a lovely little Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) plant at the Butterfly and Native Plants sale at USF, drawn by the sweet smell of the crushed leaves (hence the name) and the promise of bright blooms to come. It's grown like crazy all summer long, and now that the shorter days are here, it's finally started to flower.
Pineapple Sage is what's known as a "short day plant", meaning it doesn't begin to flower until it receives a certain amount of uninterrupted darkness (that amount differs by plant and region). Now that the nights are longer than the days, Pineapple Sage has begun to put on its showy red blooms, reputed to be very attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds. It's native to the highlands of Mexico, where a study found it to be one of three plants most visited by hummingbirds.
It will continue to flower throughout the fall and winter, unless a hard freeze kills it to the ground, in which case it should grow back from the roots. Pineapple Sage is very easy to propagate from tip cuttings - in fact, several branches of ours grew along the ground and developed their own root systems, and we were able to divide them and plant them on their own very successfully. Like many plants, it flowers best with regular watering, but tends to be pretty drought-tolerant once established.
Autumn brings lots of great things to My Florida Backyard, and the blooming of Pineapple Sage is just one of them. Over the next few weeks, look for more posts highlighting the plants and animals that tell us fall has arrived. In the meantime, we're wondering - what says "Fall in Florida" to you? Tell us in the comments!