KC Gardens

Herbs for fall color

Golden pineapple sage
Golden pineapple sage Submitted photo

From Dennis Patton:

I know, who writes about planting and growing herbs this time of year when we all know a frost could come along any day now and kill these warm-loving plants? But I have to tell you about two less common herbs that display wonderful fall beauty in the garden. I know some of you already know about these autumn showstoppers but for others these may be the first plants to add to your plant list for 2015.

Golden Pineapple Sage

When you think of sage you probably think about Thanksgiving dressing or some other savory dish. When you think about a sage plant a greenish-gray textured leaf comes to mind. But Golden Pineapple Sage is an altogether different plant. The plant is best grown from starts purchased in the spring and allowed to grow throughout the summer.

As the name implies, this plant has a nice golden chartreuse leaf color during the summer. The plant develops into a small bush, around 2 feet or more. I have grown it in containers and have also seen it growing in herb gardens and flower beds. Like most herbs it prefers full sun, good drainage and even moisture for best growth. It is very easy to grow. The nice golden foliage is just one of its ornamental attributes.

Fall’s arrival brings its best feature — its flowers. Late in the season Golden Pineapple Sage develops flower spikes in a brilliant, fire-engine red color. The combination of chartreuse and red are just eye-popping. People will be asking “what is this plant” as the combination is unusual in the garden. If you have grown this plant you know just what I am talking about. If not, try it for yourself and I am sure you will be won over by the striking color combination.

Cardinal Basil

Just like with sage and dressing, when you think of basil pesto comes to mind. The most common basil is the bright green sweet basil plant. But like many other plants there are many types of basil, and they are not all created equal. There are many flavors of basil, each with its own unique flavor. Basil flowers are normally considered inferior to the plant and removed. But not this one!

Cardinal Basil looks pretty much like any other basil plant during the summer; aromatic leaves on a small bushy plant. But just as the golden sage has a fall surprise so does this basil.

In the fall Cardinal Basil develops the showiest deep burgundy color of just about any flower I have seen. The dense blooms set on top of the erect stems and put on a fall show. Just like the sage, basil likes full sun, well-drained soil and even moisture. I have grown it in pots and found that it grows best with a continual feeding of nitrogen fertilizer. It has few insect pests and disease and just grows.

So there, you have two plants to add to the planting list for 2015. Not your normal selections since they are herbs, but I think once you experience the fall surprise you will agree they are must have plants.