The Method:  Part One - Production

Considerations before making plants ...

If you plan upon commercial production you must be sure that you start with several large plants: you'll need to give any particular branch end you cut off 2 to 3 months to grow out into 2 new branches - and you don't want to slow down your parent plants growth.

As a rule of thumb the larger a Salvia divinorum plant gets the faster it grows. You don't want to remove more than 5% of a plant in cuttings at one time: then give it a chance to grow more leaf surface to restore what was donated. You really should wait until you have several healthy plants larger than 4 feet tall to start rotating harvesting through them. Do not reduce the amount of leaf area on your parents over time: always let them grow back!

"Hydrostatic Balancing" is very important: not having more leaf / pores surface /
transpiration area on the cutting than the remaining Xylem area in the cross section of the stem can support! But healthy cuttings start with large healthy parent plants. Do not overtax them. Surprisingly: the shorter and thinner a cutting is the faster it roots. Ideal cuttings seem to be 3 - 4 nodes long, around 6" to 8" long, and about pencil thick. (1/4")

This is a little piece of my thriving Salvia divinorum garden:

A couple of plants are almost to the roof line! Just a glimpse of part of one wall of the building I live in ...

This is what I mean when I say cuttings from "Healthy Stock"! I can get a dozen medium sized cuttings - one from each of a dozen large plants (large like these 5) - from my garden: and the next week do it again!

Salvia divinorum plants as large as these grow very VERY fast because they have LOTS of leaf surface area: I get maybe 2% of the leaves off of each plant each time and they barely notice that!
For a different look at these plants look here:
A recent night shot ...




Here is the secret method I use to get production line style plants. You line up the pots on the wall and fix them all up (as below) before you start cutting plants:  then you can make from one plant to two dozen plants (or More) at one time! This page deals with the actual mechanics of production - other pages deal with the considerations of soils and shipping plants safely.





Things you'll need before you start:

A SHARP X-acto or single sided razor blade.

Be sure to get the one with metal holding the blade: the ones that have a piece of plastic holding the blade don't last long.



Small plastic potting pots 2.75 inches on each side (with 4 drain holes). I use McConkey Co. S275 pots: and the dimensions become critical in the shipping stage. 

Pots any smaller than these don't hold enough soil for growing a good size plant before shipping them. Pots any larger than these are hard to ship easily. See my Shipping tutorial ...

 Solid Sided with four good 1/4 inch rectangular drain holes in the bottom:


Less than 3 inches tall:





Pea sized gravel. I do not recommend "fish bowl gravel" because it's too small and I'm not sure the dye they use to color that stuff won't harm the plants. 

The regular size 'river' or 'driveway gravel' is too large to prevent the soil from eroding out of the drain holes. Small gravel just large enough not to fall out of the 4 drain holes is ideal!




Potting Soil (I prefer Miracle-Gro potting soil for all of my Salvia growing needs: but for repotting parent plants I add amendments like orchid bark chunks for drainage.)  See also my page on Soils


A finger width "Sharpie" brand marker. If your finger has enough ink in it you could use your finger instead.






Date the pot with either your finger or the Sharpie and put a quarter to half inch layer of pearl stone in the pot.





Move the gravel away from the middle and slope it over the drain holes. Leave the center bottom bare so the cutting can be inserted all the way to the bottom of the pot. Slope the pebbles in a funnel shape up over the drain holes. This is so that dirt doesn't wash out of the pot (leaving erosive cavities in the soil) and so that air can get in the bottom of the pot to the roots (to prevent root rot). This step also ensures good drainage: important for Salvia's good health!






Moisten the potting soil so it's consistency is like dough. Fill the pot level with the special mix potting soil and compress it slightly down.





Put the Sharpie (Or your finger) in all the way to the bottom and pack the soil tightly around it.





Keep the Sharpie straight up as you pack the soil tightly around it on all sides.





Carefully remove the Sharpie from the pot.





When you remove the Sharpie you have a neat socket ready to support a cutting while it is rooting.





Choose a healthy 1/4 inch thick branch end - you will cut about 6 to 11 inches off. (The thinner the branch the faster it roots!) Using as sharp a blade as you can get: make a quick clean cut 1/2 to 1 inch above a node.  I prefer straight across the stem: some people swear by cutting the stem across at a slope.  Just cut the blessed thing already ...

(I hear you squawking: "Above the node?!?" I heard you were supposed to cut below the node ... )

I'm positive that nodes are a must for leaves and branches to emerge from: but in my experience roots emerge from along the entire length of the stem simultaneously and do NOT require a node to spring from!

If a node is planted below soil level: branches will eventually break the soil on their way out - if all the nodes are above soil then branches don't break the soil. That's the ONLY difference - in MY Experience that is! Most of my recent plants are cut above the node and frankly I haven't lost a single one!

It doesn't matter to the parent plant where the cut is on the stem: the stem will die back to the node below the cut, which will sprout branches from the shoulders of that node right away - resulting in two branches where one was before ...

So: I cut ABOVE the Node ...



If you're fussy about this: why not use the blade to trim off most of the stem below the node JUST Before planting it. It'll be a fresh clean cut that way... (as opposed to being a 2 minute old cut ... big deal.)




Press downward at the base of each leaf's stem to quickly SNAP off the biggest leaves at the bottom of the cutting. Do NOT snap off the tiny leaves (Or twig) on the node - it is a future branch!

That’s the REAL trick: pull off all but the 4 medium sized top leaves. Time is of the essence: get the cutting into water – or stick it in potting soil right away (then keep it wet a week) – within 5 minutes of cutting it! The plant had roots to supply water to all the pores in those leaves but when removed from the plant the excess of leaf surface causes ALL the water in the Xylem water uptake system to evaporate.



Remove most of the large lower leaves before you pot it to help it keep hydrostatic pressure balance.

  On the first day keep watering them hourly, or as needed, to keep them from wilting. If it starts wilting after potting, about 6 hours later, remove more leaves from the cutting! Try to leave about 6 square inches of leaf Surface on the plant and your cuttings will KEEP turgor pressure from the time you cut it onward!

It's OK if you wind up with what looks like a bare stick with tiny thumbnail sized leaves: It will put a new branch out from each point where a leaf WAS soon enough. Anything to keep them from wilting before roots form!

If you take a long cutting and leave ALL the leaves on it: it will reproachfully give you that “Microwaved Lettuce” look, flop over, and die. If you pull off all the leaves below the top 2 or 3 nodes, and pot it right away, and keep it wet the first week: it'll root for you.


I've discovered you should NOT use Rootone IF you add Mychorrhizae to the potting soil. The Mychorrhizae bond to the developing roots just as the Anti-Fungal kills it ... taking your baby plant with it.


Gently fit the square peg into the round hole: 




all the way to the bottom ...



Carefully ... because I killed a few by bruising the stem - squeezing too firmly.



Then wet the soil until it is saturated all the way through. Moistening the soil before using it prevents air pockets from forming in the soil and keeping areas of it dry even if the soil on top looks soaked.  



Place in a bright with indirect lighting location as possible for the first month so they can root faster, then, in their second month, give them a little direct sun with mid-day shade and a breeze. The breeze helps strengthen their forming root system: you don't want to ship them until they are well root bound and their stem has very little side to side wiggle. I don't ship plants until they are 8 to 10 weeks old MINIMUM so they don't die of root shock in transit.


You may need to modify these instructions slightly to tweak them for your growing environment. Differing conditions may require you to be creative with these tips ...

Your mileage may vary ...

Back to the main Tutorial page