How best to care for Salvia divinorum.

  • Salvia divinorum is a tropical rain forest plant.  It thrives, in its native habitat, in a high humidity low light environment under the jungle canopy.   Normally it just gets little dapples of light that speed along the forest floor. Full Sun over an extended period of time will KILL these plants!

  • Soils for Salvia divinorum should be well drained and not retain too much moisture.  I add beneficial microbes and mycorrhiza spores to my potting soils. Salvia divinorum's roots need access to air or root rot can set in.  A large well drained plastic pot  with the saucer removed from the bottom of it, should have about an inch of pea sized gravel put on the bottom to insure good drainage.  The pot should also be placed up on bricks so there's a space for air to enter the bottom.  Please see my pages on Repotting and Soils.

  • Salvia divinorum's branches are weak and not woody: They require support if you wish to grow this plant much taller than 3 feet.  In the wild, the plant grows tall enough that the weight of it's leaves weigh it down, and it snaps off the stem or branch and drops it in the mud.  All the nodes on that stem or branch then put down roots and put up stems to create an instant hedge of this plant.   I use those bamboo tomato stakes and vinyl Gardner's tape to secure the stem, and any branch that is longer than 2 feet, to a stake.  

  • Salvia divinorum requires sun with partial shade.  In the jungle this plant just gets little dapples of sunlight that speed along the jungle floor under the canopy.  It is said the natives plant this under their coffee trees. Salvia divinorum cannot tolerate long periods of direct sunlight: it cooks the plant!  My trees are sheltered from the direct sun by tarps: they only get indirect light that bounces off the surrounding buildings (but they get a lot of light).  A partially shady location is a must have for this plant. Give it an hour or two a day of direct sun on a windowsill, if you can (outside in the wind is best for it)! It will grow just fine under ordinary fluorescent lights or under a skylight. Light level used in growth chamber experiments can be found here: "Plant-top light-intensity varied from 2,800-3,300 ft-c

  • Salvia divinorum needs to be fertilized occasionally: I use Miracle-Gro fertilizer (the standard garden feeder).   If the plant is getting proper levels of nutrients and not too much sunlight its leaves will be smooth, flat, velvety, and dark emerald green.  If it gets too much sunlight the leaves get a rough 'alligators skin' looking texture and change to a lighter color.

  • You should let Salvia dry out between waterings.  The top half inch to inch of soil should be dry when it is time to water the plant again.  The plant will droop slightly before it begins to wilt: water it - soak it well - as soon as you see the leaves droop and do not let it wilt!  (The time lapse image below takes a while to load after you click on it: be patient please)

    Target for link is a Special animation of a plant
    Click on the wilted plant to watch it take on water (time lapse)!

    Anything that wilts all the way suffers a vascular collapse and will not return.  Over watering can lead to problems with fungus gnats, and root rot.  Do not give it fertilizer with every watering: inorganic salts can build up in the soil and harm your plant.  Water with distilled water monthly to flush the salts away from its roots.  Every third or fourth watering you can add some type of fertilizer (the type you mix up in the watering can).  Within three or four days you'll see the dark green return to your plants' leaves.

  • Salvia divinorum can have many pests. I have been successful in combating Spider Mites, Caterpillars, and Slugs. I have regularly released ladybugs, and I hung praying mantis egg cases up in my trees (one hatched). The ungrateful predator bugs did not stick around but the pests did!
    I do recommend "Bt"against Caterpillars (It is safe and organic), and For Slugs there are 3 treatments, one of which I have used and 2 that I know will work. And Spider Mites are the easiest of all to get rid of!
    1. To treat Caterpillars: Mix Bt Concentrate in a small hand pumped sprayer with plenty of water and coat the leaves of your plant with a fine mist as the sun goes down. Repeat Monthly whenever Butterflies or Moths are seen - every 3 months when they they are out of Season.
    2. For Slugs: I have used copper foil tape in a strip around the pot: Slugs won't cross a SHINY copper barrier! When it tarnishes they can cross.
    3. My friend Rendi (Author of the Entheogen Encyclopedia) reminded me about saucers of warm beer placed recessed slightly into the soil: Slugs go in for the beer [or fall in] get drunk and drown.
    4. Rendi also shared his tip that Slugs won't cross lines (piles) of fireplace ashes! This I did NOT Know: Thanks Rendi! Since Slugs travel on a ribbon of mucus: ashes absorb that ribbon and makes them think they are on broken glass shards!
    5. For Spider Mites: It is a very good idea to mist your Salvia divinorum plants. Nothing deters Spider Mites like regular applications of common ordinary Hydrogen HYDROXIDE (HOH)! Spray a heavy mist of it from your hose or hand held mister, all over the under sides of the leaves, at least twice a day. In a week they will be gone. Spider Mites require dry dusty conditions and hate living in damp houses so if you mist the plants, and them, unmercifully: they will move.

      That's right: give them a mist bath! No Poisons or other treatments required. It Took me YEARS to learn that! (disgust)

  • Every half year to year the plant will outgrow its pot and become root bound.  You'll need to repot these plants in a larger pot with good soil. Tie the "Trunks" of your 'trees-to-be' to a tomato support stake and put them in the shade.  

  • The greatest two dangers to your plant's survival are drought and frost. If the plant is allowed to wilt too far: the vascular tissues will collapse and that part will not grow again.  Watering it as soon as you see it droop is the best policy. And if the root ball gets frost it will kill it: but as long as the root ball does not get completely frozen the plant will regrow in the spring from it.

 Happy and blessed gardening!

Back to the main Tutorial page

For information I haven't covered here see:
The Salvia divinorum growers guide

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