Two monarchs landed in my garden today, attracted to the nectar of the pineapple sage.
I was pleasantly surprised to look out the window during my lunch break today and see two monarch butterflies nectaring on my pineapple sage.
Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is one of those plants I like to include in my herb garden for both aesthetic and culinary reasons; the leaves make a yummy addition to iced tea and the late-blooming red flowers add a real punch of color to the landscape just before most of the local trees really start to show their foliage colors, in late September and early October.
Although a non-native plant, pineapple sage is also a good nectar provider for many migratory species moving through my garden late in the season. In addition to monarchs, I have sometimes seen hummingbirds out there, too, grabbing a snack before heading south for the winter. Both hummingbirds and monarchs have a long way to go, flying thousands of miles to each find their own spot to winter-over each year. They need all the sugar water they can get from those flowers to fly so many miles.
Unlike butterflies, bees cannot see red, so if you are also hoping to feed a few of these important pollinators in autumn you’ll want to plant something different in your habitat garden. Bees are most attracted to violet, blue and purple flowers; although they can’t see red they can see ultraviolet light and some reddish wavelengths. New England asters in my garden are in full bloom and covered with both bees and butterflies in early October, making them the perfect complement to the sage.
For more information on bee eyesight and feeding pollinators, check out this color article from Bee Culture magazine.
And if you want to know more about monarch’s or report sightings in your own yard, be sure to visit the Journey North website.