When it comes to Salvia Divinorum, there is nothing more satisfying than growing your own.
Before getting into the nitty-gritty aspects of propagating and growing a salvia cutting, it is good to know some basic traits of the plant. Salvia Divinorum is a semi-tropical perennial plant, meaning that it will grow year after year, as long as it remains in its optimal growing conditions.
Due to it being a semi-tropical plant, Salvia should not be exposed to temperatures lower than 10 degrees Celsius at any time. The ideal temperature for the plant is between 15 – 27 degrees Celsius. They are happiest in an environment that has a humidity of 50% or more.
On rare occasions the Saliva plant will produce seeds, but these are not normally viable for propagation. In the wild, Saliva propagates and spreads by falling over and sending out additional shoots and rots when it touches the ground, creating more plants – for this reasons, it is best to grow from cuttings.
This brings us onto the next point; due to the way Salvia naturally spreads, it grows with quite weak stems, and will likely need support as it gets larger to prevent it falling over or snapping.
Propagating Salvia Divinorum from your cutting
- Clean the cutting by removing any dead or blackened material; also remove any leaves that will end up below soil level.
- Fill a small pot to 2/3 capacity with fresh potting soil. It is not recommended to use soil from outside, as these can contain pests that can kill your cutting in this vulnerable stage. Garden centre bought potting soil will be much cleaner, and contain the right balance of nutrients for a young plant. Ensure that the pot you are using has drainage holes in the bottom to ensure that the soil does not become water logged.
- With your finger, make a hole in the centre that is about 2 inches deep.
- Place your cutting into the hole and fill around the roots with potting soil.
- Now give you cutting a small amount of water in the soil, and mist it with spray bottle.
- Now place a transparent plastic bag over the plant and secure it at the base of the pot with an elastic band. This will both raise and maintain the high level of humidity the plant needs to thrive. If you have one, placing the pot in a large ziplock bag and sealing the top is also good for this purpose, and makes watering much easier. Whichever bag you use, ensure that it does not restrict or bend the plant, (a 1 gallon bag is normally ideal). Note: it is also often a good idea to place the pot on top of a spacer, such as a chunk of wood, to stop it sitting in any run off water that may accumulate when it is watered.
- Put the cutting in a bright and warm location. Filtered sunlight is best, as Saliva plants do not like direct sunlight, nor do they like heavy shade.
- The salvia plant should now begin to grow and flourish, the humidity within the bag should mean that frequent watering is not required, but ensure that the Salvia cutting never dries out.
- Now the cutting must be acclimatised to the natural level of humidity in the environment. To do this, leave the cutting to grow in the bag for about a week, then for the following two weeks, punch one or two holes in the bag each day. This will gradually reduce the humidity within the bag.
- After two weeks of slowly acclimatising the Saliva cutting you can remove the bag. If it starts to wilt, replace the bag for another week. If it remains strong, then it has successfully acclimatised to the humidity.
- The plant can now be carefully transplanted to a larger pot.
There you have it! Your Salvia Divinorum should now be established.
How to take cuttings from your own Salvia plant
- Ensure you use a clean blade to take the cutting
- Cut a stem just below a node, this is where the roots will develop from.
- Ensure the cut remains wet until it is transplanted into soil.
- As this will be a completely fresh cutting and have no roots, cover the cut and up to one inch above the cut in rooting powder or gel in order to stimulate root growth. This is done just before putting the cutting in the soil.
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Tips for general plant maintenance once your salvia is established
- Water your Salvia whenever the soil feels like it is drying out. You will know if your plant needs water when the leaves begin to wilt.
- Keep your Salvia plant in a bright, warm location out of direct sunlight.
- Salvia Divinorum can grow quite tall (up to 8 feet in ideal conditions). It is possible to trim the tops to force the plant to bush and grow outwards. Be careful not to trim too much, as this could damage the growth of the plant.
- If you are keeping your plant indoors, then take it outside only on warm and rainy days to allow rainwater to wash trough the pot. This will help prevent mineral build up in the soil that could harm the plant.
- It is a good idea to use shop bought fertiliser/plant feed every now and again to keep the plant healthy. Just be careful not to overfeed and cause mineral build up.
- Keep a close eye out for pests such as slugs and aphids, who seem to have a particular attraction to the plant. Considering you will plan to use the plant yourself, do not use any harmful toxins to deal with pests – and investigate safe alternatives. For example, a bowl of beer near your plants is a good preventative measure against slugs, who are attracted by the beer and subsequently drown.