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How To Grow Salvia Divinorum: A Rough Guide

By John Clarke

Green Fingers

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.

Miscellaneous Tips

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.


21 Responses to How To Grow Salvia Divinorum: A Rough Guide

  1. jack says:

    ebay has recently changed its policy on Salvia divinorum products and now regularly cancels all auctions for any SD products (no matter how they are marketed). previously, ebay would cancel specific SD auctions in response to specific complaints.
    ebay seem to have adopted this new (blanket) ban on all their international sites. however, look hard and you will find some auctions manage to stay below ebay’s radar. and are also reliable sellers of live plants in my experience.

  2. Synchronium says:

    Good call, Jack. This is the last of the articles I was shifting over from Coffeesh0p. I wrote it a while ago when Ebay still allowed salvia auctions.

    SalviaSource and BotSwap are also good places to get plants.

  3. Sarah says:

    I’m confused! Is this plant ‘Salvia’ an alternative to Cannabis? Is it legal and if ebay won’t sell it why? Are there health risks or something? I only came on this site to find a recipe for hash brownies to deter my son from smoking, but I’m more confused than ever. I’ve no problem growing plants being a horticulturist, just not up on drugs! I thought Salvia was Sage, to put in stuffing, didn’t know you could smoke it or get any kind of high on it! Help! 🙂

  4. Synchronium says:

    Sarah: The word Salvia refers to the Sage genus of plants, including the Salvia officinalis species that you put in your stuffing. This genus also contains many more species though, including Salvia divinorum. Here’s a link to the Salviaa genus wikipedia article so you can get an idea for how many other members of this genus there are.

    Salvia divinorum is psychoactive, but it is certainly no alternative to cannabis (or LSD for that matter). For a bit more information on Salvia divinorum itself you might like to read “What is Salvia?” (including an hour long documentary) or have a look at a presentation I gave on it recently. You can also read loads of Salvia divinorum experience reports on Salvia Trip to give you a better idea of just how unique this plant is.

    As for ebay, who knows why they banned it. Salvia divinorum is illegal in a few countries and a few states in the US, so that might be the reason. This guy got into some hot water with the dried leaf he bought from ebay, so that might have contributed to their decision too.

  5. Mike says:

    SO it is not illeagal,,,, where can I find the seeds for this plant?? No I am not a sceemer to mass produce for tons of money,,,,, I have a green thumb and I like to know where it came from before i put it in my body,,,,,

  6. Synchronium says:

    Salvia divinorum seeds are notoriously hard to come by and almost never germinate. You’d have much more luck searching for a cutting.

  7. jack says:

    it isn’t hard to find cuttings/established plants for sale on uk websites. also, check ebay. you’ll see how determined sellers are managing to stay within ebay’s guidelines.

  8. rusty says:

    i recieved some salvia cuttings and planted them 3 days ago.the leaves on the plants dried up,so they look like three green stocks.will these continue to grow without any leaves

  9. shaman says:

    Salvia is a very easy plant to grow,the bigger the plant the faster it will grow, I sell Salvia live well rooted plants in the U.K only,so if you want any help,hints or tips on growing Salvia in the U.K please contact me via my website, so if you want to buy plants or help with ones you have just drop me a line.

  10. peter says:

    i have never tried salvia before but i’m interested in growing it just to see if it’s any good where could i get cutting’s from and is it legal to sell from a coffee shop ? if not where could i get well rooted plant’s from and what would it cost me ?

  11. Roberto says:

    I am also interested in growing one for fun. It is 100% legal yah?

  12. Christyl says:

    Okay, so I have what might be a very stupid question.
    I’m apologize if that’s the case:P

    Is there any way to grow a more potent plant?

    Thanks so much:)

  13. rob says:

    Is it legal currently to grow in the UK after the december 2009 law change?

  14. jack says:

    yup. there was talk during 2009 that the legislation would cover SD. however, the 2009 legislation covered only synthetics; GBL, BZP and specific synthetic cannabinoids (as used most notably in ‘spice’). as far as i can ascertain, the ACMD has currently no plans to examine SD.

  15. philip says:

    Hi Jack,
    You seem like a knowledgeable man on the subject, and a good person to ask for help; I have a plant, just over a metre high (I’ve pinched sprouting buds so it doesn’t get any taller!). Unfortunately, it was poorly looked after throughout winter, and as a result only has leaves on the top sixth of each of the 4 stems (top thrid if you count horrible yellow crappy leaves). the rest of the stems contain only miniature leaves, ranging from nothing to maybe an inch. I was wondering if there was any way of recovering and/or the best way to get those leaves growing again?

  16. jack says:

    hi philip. i would make cuttings from the healthier parts of the plant. this is a normal part of keeping SD; plants don’t go on forever. in the wild it would have regenerated on it’s own by now.

    i suggest you do a little research wrt cuttings. practically any stem material will root. this stem section should be cut back to a leaf node at the bottom (also at the top if it has already been pinched out). leaves on this stem section may be trimmed to preclude wilting.

    hope that helps.

  17. Jeff says:

    Hey, I was just wondering how long a salvia stem cutting will survive in the mail. there are plenty of sites on how to grow but none on sending.

  18. brandon says:

    hey odd quistion can you cook this into food. say like cannabutter.

  19. Mark says:

    Jeff, unrooted Salvia cuttings won’t last more than a few days, if they are packed well. IMHO, it is better to spend the extra bucks on a rooted plant.

  20. Erik says:

    brandon that wont work at all its meant to be chewed or smoked

  21. muhammed says:

    If one is a good idea to me Turkey for help in this regard and I would like to cultivate this plant, no matter where gonna buy thank you very much help in

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