Buying Your Plant
The most expensive part of growing Salvia Divinorum on a organic/semi-organic basis is actually buying a cutting or whole plant. I managed to get my plant for £12 including postage and packaging. After this follows compost and a suitable size pot.
There are many places to find salvia plants/cuttings, not only at local plant nurseries, but all over the internet; there’s at least one salvia plant on ebay at any one time. It’s worth noting that prices can vary significantly with little variation in quality, so make sure you shop around.
Try and buy a plant locally if you can. If not, definitely buy from a website based in your home country to minimise the time it spends in an envelope.
Growing A Cutting
When your cutting arrives, remove it from it’s packaging extremely carefully and let it sit in luke warm water. Assuming your cutting already has roots, leave it in the water for a couple of hours. If no roots are present, leave it in the water for a week or so until there’s enough root growth present to allow for potting.
After it’s sat in water for a while, it’s time to plant it. You’ll need a pot at least 20 – 30cm wide to allow your cutting to grow without having to be repotted every couple of months. The first thing to do is place some gravel or broken crockery into your pot up to about 5cm from the bottom. This thin layer allows for superior drainage after watering. After that, fill the pot up with your loam based compost available from any gardening store and dig a little hole in the centre where your plant will sit. Next, take your cutting, splay out the roots gently with your fingers and place the cutting into the hole you provided. Backfill the hole with more compost and compress down lightly around the stem of your plant.
Travelling through the mysteries of the postal service and being stuck in some soil is thirsty work for a plant. Imagine you have been slaving away all day in the blistering sun, doing vast quantities of manual labour. How badly are you gagging for a pint at your local? This is how your plant is feeling right now. Although your plant needs a drink, don’t feel obliged to buy it any peanuts. Now your plant is potted, give it enough water so that excess water will drip from the bottom of the pot.
From here, I advise you to put the plant in a humid environment, at least at first, to promote healthy growth. Just like a fat kid loves cake, Salvia Divinorum loves indirect sunlight. This can be anywhere such as a light room with no direct sun blazing down on it all day, or even directly in the sun, but behind a net curtain. Provided your plant is not exposed to too much direct sunlight, it will do all right.
Leave it a few weeks and your cutting will start turning into a fully-fledged plant. Keep an eye on the compost, making sure it doesn’t dry up. Water once a week in summer and once every two weeks in winter. Just be careful to never over water your plant, or root rot could set in.
Growing & Maintaining A Plant
Growing an established plant is almost the same as growing a cutting. Salvia Divinorum can be very flexible about its growing conditions, but a quick change in conditions will most likely piss your plant right off. You have to consider that your plant has already been growing for probably quite some time in certain conditions, which it is now used to. These includes, but is not limited to, different light levels, compost, humidity, etc so it is very important to find out as much as you can about these conditions from the plant’s previous owner, then try to match those conditions as best you can. Once the plant has been repotted and is beginning to settle into it’s new environment, then you can slightly alter it’s environment a little each day until you have it growing in conditions easy for you to maintain.
The growth of the plant at first will be slow. Remember, it’s been shoved in an envelope for a few days with no light, so it’ll need to recover from that traumatic experience before it will even think about new growth. This can take up to around 2 weeks before any progress can be seen.
Look out for the leaves and edges of the plant turning brown, this means it is NOT in the right conditions. There are many things it could want, but chances are it’s something to do with humidity. Try misting the leaves if your environment is not very humid, or consider building a humidity tent or moving the plant into the bathroom, where people use the shower frequently. The stem, and possibly the leaves should return to normal in a couple of weeks. If not, cut the leaves off at the stem to facilitate new growth.
Sometimes the leaves might turn a yellowish colour. Never fear, it just means your plant could do with some more sun. This could be because other leaves on the plant are blocking out light, in which case, feel free to remove those other leaves and do with them what you will.
If your plant is wilting, it simply means it could do with more water. And if it’s bent, try rotating the pot 180 degrees. Plants will grow towards the sun, which could be causing the bowing in the stem.
Automatic Watering — One method for ensuring your plant always has enough water is by setting up a low maintenance automatic watering system. You’ll need some organic rope (NOT plastic), a drill and a tray. Firstly drill two holes near the base of your pot in the side and push your rope into one side and out the other. Make sure there is plenty of slack inside the pot. The next step is to pot your plant or cutting as described above, only this time, wrap the slack from the rope around the root system of your plant before you pack it out with soil. You should now have one plant in its pot with two bits of rope hanging down from either side. Finally, place a couple of bricks, a lump of wood, or some other object into your tray and fill the tray up with water. Place your pot onto the bricks, wood, or whatever and allow the two pieces of rope to dangle into the water. This will automatically deliver enough water to the plant all the time.
Pinching — Pinching is a method to promote bushiness and outward growth in your plants instead of growing too tall. At the tip of each branch, there is a section called the apical meristem. This is where all the new growth comes from and is responsible for regulating a plant hormone called indole-3-acetic acid (IAA). This hormone promotes the growth of the main stem and inhibits sideways growth from nodes along the stem. If this hormone weren’t present in the plant, it would grow outwards instead of upwards, so it follows that if you remove the apical meristem, this hormone will no longer be produced and your plant will bush out instead of grow tall.
When your plant has reached the desired height, cutting off the top of the main stem with a clean sharp pair of scissors will safely stop the plant from growing taller, while maximising leaf output.