Pineapple sage is very robust, but needs a little support indoors and outdoors in winter to get through the cold season well.© groisboeck - Fotolia.com
In the summer, pineapple sage (Salvia rutilans) is a big hit in the herb garden. The plant grows abundantly, shows pretty, showy flowers and smells wonderfully of pineapple. So there is nothing to be said against cultivation outdoors, as long as the temperatures allow it, because the plants from Central America are not hardy. Therefore, the pineapple sage should not be forgotten when the temperatures drop. Below you will learn how to help the spice plants over the winter.
Prepare pineapple sage for the winter
The plants find ideal conditions outdoors, which is why they do not have to restrict their growth. The plants are quite robust and well adapted to our climate. The plants don't mind cool and rather wet summers. It only becomes problematic when the thermometer begins to fall in autumn and approaches freezing. Then you have to make the pineapple sage fit for the winter quarters. The best way to do this is as follows:
- Take the plant out of the ground.
- Then put the pineapple sage in a suitable planter.
- Water the plant.
- Place the planter in the winter quarters.
Hibernate pineapple sage as a container plant
Pineapple sage is preferably cultivated in a bucket because the plant can spend the summer on the balcony, terrace or in the bed. You remain flexible and can ensure optimal site conditions at any time. For example, by protecting the plant from excessive sunlight or strong wind and rain. There is also no need to plant or transplant before winter. You simply have to bring the planter into the house on cold nights.
What does the ideal winter accommodation look like?
Since the pineapple sage does not shed its leaves, it should be given a bright winter quarters. The ambient temperature allows a fairly wide range. The plants can be wintered at temperatures between 5 and 15 degrees. A location in the stairwell or in the winter garden is just as suitable as a winter quarters in the bedroom or in another, less heated room.
How should the plants be cared for in the winter quarters?
Pineapple sage requires little maintenance in winter quarters. Watering is far more economical than in summer. However, the root ball should not dry out. The plants do not receive fertilizer during the winter half-year. You can largely leave the plants to their own devices. You should not change them during the winter half year.
Wintering pineapple sage outdoors - is that possible?
The question cannot be answered across the board. The mild winters of the past few years give cause for hope. Of course, it also matters whether the plants are planted in a bed in the Rhine Valley, on the island of Sylt or in the Allgäu. Wintering outdoors is generally associated with a risk, which is why you must also expect to lose the plants.
How can plants be protected outdoors?
Plants that are to be hibernated outdoors must first be cut back completely. This affects the plant in the field as well as the pineapple sage in the bucket. You must now protect the root ball well from frost. The best way to do this is to pack it thickly with leaves, brushwood or straw. This cover should remain on the plant all winter. Since late frosts can also endanger the pineapple sage, you should only remove the winter protection after the ice saints in mid-May.
Critical times begin for the container plant in winter. You should therefore avoid wintering outdoors. If there is no other way, you must first look for a protected location, preferably near a wall or house wall. The planter should not be placed directly on the ground. Otherwise there is a risk that the planter will freeze completely. Then the root would also be affected and the plant could no longer be saved. The following measures offer the best possible protection:
- Place the planter on a block of wood or a thick section of styrofoam.
- Prune the plant completely.
- Cover the root ball with leaves and straw.
- Cover brushwood over it.
- Pack the entire planter tightly with garden fleece.
What happens to the plants after winter?
The plants should not leave the winter quarters until frost is no longer to be expected. In mid-May it is time to remove the cover and check the plants. With luck, the pineapple sage has already sprouted. This speaks for a successful wintering. You should now slowly get the plants used to the new location and do not immediately place them in full sun. However, since the plants generally appear quite robust, they will usually get used to the new conditions without any problems and will sprout vigorously with the first warm rays of the sun. Now you have to water more often. From now on you can give the first doses of fertilizer again. Recommended reading: Caring for pineapple sage - this is how to water, fertilize and cut it properly.