This is the time of the year we revel in the Golden Delicious, of course The Garden Guy is referring to the Rocking Golden Delicious pineapple sage. While we have been loving every minute of it through the long hot summer, it is the short days of early fall that bring on the added cause of celebration.
This is when glorious red blooms appear on virtually every tip. The party commences as every pollinator around takes notice and the happy dance begins. Hummingbirds use it to fatten up for their long arduous journey to the tropics. The Garden Guy was caught by surprise however while watching for these elusive little birds. I noticed little bees fluttering around and then the big shocker zebra heliconian butterflies took notice. It wasn't just one but several and two at a time. While I was celebrating, cloudless sulphur butterflies also came in, and sometimes two at a time as well.
These blooms are like a crescendo of performance to one of the best salvias we can grow. Throughout the summer I have touted the use of lime colored foliage in the landscape. Everything looks better with lime or golden chartreuse as is the case with Rockin Golden Delicious.
When it comes to Proven Winners Rockin Golden Delicious salvia, The Garden Guy feels a little bit like Elizabeth Barrett Browning's, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." As a partner with Luscious lantana and Snow Princess lobularia it is perfect. Massed with red coleus and white begonias, it will be the one that lights up the bed like a spotlight.
Giving it some tropical partners however may cause you to think Carnival in Rio. Partner it with the multi-colored Fiesta Hibiscus and Hawaiian Ti plants and you'll want to start singing "Sweet Leilani." You may want to look that song up! The Garden Guy is going tropical too using the salvia with giant alocasia elephant ears, and variegated shell ginger in close proximity.
Last year however, son James created the ultimate recipe for a horse trough container. Hawaiian Ti plants were centered as a flaming red foliage thriller. On the ends were Rockin Golden Delicious salvia. The middle, filler and spiller plants were Blue My Mind evolvulus and Superbells Coralina calibrachoa.
The pineapple sage is known botanically as Salvia elegans and is native to tropical Mexico and Guatemala. Despite this natural proclivity for the tropics it does very well in the United States as annual or as perennials in zones 8 and warmer. Occasionally you'll find them return in zone 7, which is a cause for celebration.
Rockin Golden Delicious salvia performs best in fertile well-drained soil. Plant on raised beds or amend heavy, tight soils with the addition of compost or humus. Well-drained soil will encourage a spring return further north than one might expect. You'll find they adore the premium potting soils when grown in mixed containers. When planting season arrives plan on spacing the plants 24 inches apart planting at the same depth they are growing in the container. They can reach 36 to 48 inches in height. My clumps are about 4 feet by 4 feet.
Rockin Golden Delicious has won 30 awards and not just in the South. It has garnered top awards at Penn State, University of Delaware, Cornell University, South Dakota State and University of Wisconsin. Two others, however, speak volumes, Leader of the Pack All Summer at the JC Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina and Top Showy Foliage and Edible Ornamental at Mississippi State University.
You see once you grow it, you'll never want to be without it. Just merely brushing up against the leaves will leave you in an olfactory euphoria of crushed pineapple. This fragrance of the leaves also constitutes the favors for drinks, jams and cream cheese. These are the reasons Rockin Golden Delicious has won awards north to south, east to west, culinary, and I'll give it a gold star for pollinators too!
(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of, "Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South" and "Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden." Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)(c)2020 Norman Winter, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.