HOW TO PROPAGATE AND GROW SALVIA DIVINORUM

The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center
is created and maintained by
Daniel Siebert



General Care

Salvia divinorum plants grow best in light shade with no more than 3 or 4 hours of direct morning or afternoon sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight during midday. They won't tolerate a lot of strong direct sunlight. On the other hand, they do not do well in deep shade either. Light shade and filtered sunlight is best.

The plants appreciate a lot of room for their roots, so they should be re-potted to larger pots every few months if they are growing quickly. You may want to plant them in the ground if you have a suitable location. They can grow very fast in the ground, as much as two meters in 6 months.

The stems of Salvia divinorum are not very strong. When the plants get taller than about one meter they tend to fall over if not given support. Sometimes the stems will break off, but usually they just bend over. When a bent-over stem makes contact with moist soil it will put out new roots at that point and eventually send up new stems from the new location. This is the main way that the plant spreads in the wild since it almost never produces viable seed.

The ideal temperature range for the plant is about 15 - 27C (60 - 80F). They will readily tolerate temperatures about 10C (18F) above and below this range but the plants tend to grow slowly outside of their ideal temperature range. They prefer a fairly humid atmosphere and will be happiest when the relative humidity is above 50%.

Salvia divinorum plants respond well to regular feeding. Generally speaking, you should begin fertilizing newly acquired plants about two weeks after you receive them. Just about any general purpose fertilizer will work fine, but be careful not to overfeed them.


Propagating Salvia divinorum from Cuttings

Salvia divinorum is a relatively easy plant to propagate from cuttings. Small cuttings will usually root within 2 or 3 weeks. Cuttings seem to root best when they are between 2 and 8 inches long. They should be cut off of the mother plant using sharp, clean shears. The cut should be made just below a node.

To root the cuttings in water: Put each cutting into a glass of water. Each glass should be filled about 4 -5 cm (1 1/2 - 2") deep. It is a good idea to use a separate glass for each cutting so that if one starts to rot it doesn’t spoil the water and kill the others. Leave the glasses indoors in diffuse light and add a little water as necessary to maintain the water level. In about 2 weeks you should see some roots starting to form. Some cuttings may root more quickly than others. I find that they root just fine in plain water and no rooting hormones are necessary.

When the cuttings have several roots 1 - 2 cm (1/4 - 3/4")long, they should be planted in pots of loose potting soil and watered well so that the soil is completely moist. Keep them indoors for another 2 or 3 weeks so that they can establish a good root system in the pots with out having to deal with the wind and big temperature swings of the outdoors. You will need to keep the plants in a moist environment for a few days after moving them from the water to the pots to keep them from wilting. The easiest thing to do is to just cover the whole plant with a large upside down jar or use a big plastic bag with a wire cage support to keep it from collapsing on the plant. Spraying them with a fine mist occasionally is also a good idea. Don’t wait too long to move the cuttings from the water to soil. If you do the roots will be more prone to damage and the cuttings will begin to starve for nutrients.


Propagating Salvia divinorum from Seed

Salvia divinorum seeds are extremely rare. The plants almost never produce viable seeds. Seeds should be stored in a sealed dry container. Their viability can be extended considerably if they are refrigerated.

The seeds should be planted 2-3 mm (0.08-0.1 inch) deep in a good quality potting mix. So as not to dislodge the seeds, which are tiny and close to the surface, the soil should either be watered from the bottom, or watered using a fine mister. The soil surface should be kept moist, but not soggy. If the seeds are viable, most will germinate in 2 to 4 weeks. Salvia divinorum seedlings are rather delicate and slow-growing at first. They must be nursed along patiently. Eventually, as the plants grow larger, they will become stronger and more resilient.

Since Salvia divinorum is usually propagated from cuttings, most plants in cultivation are genetically identical clones derived from just a few introductions—primarily the 'Bunnell' (a.k.a. 'Wasson/Hoffman') strain. When you start new plants from seed you are establishing new, genetically unique individuals and thus doing important work to help expand the genetic diversity of this rare species. Should you obtain plants from seed, please maintain them very carefully. By propagated and sharing new strains with others, you help insure their future survival because you are making sure that their continued existence does not depend on a single individual. Please be careful to label your seed-raised plants so that they do not get confused with other strains in your collection. Most Salvia divinorum plants are indistinguishable from each other, but occasionally a seed-raised plant will be visibly distinctive in some way. If you do obtain an unusual plant, I would like to hear about it, so please contact me at: dsiebert@sagewisdom.org