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PlantFiles: Ska Pastora, La Maria, Diviner's Sage
Salvia divinorum

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Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salvia (SAL-vee-uh) (Info)
Species: divinorum (dih-VIN-or-um) (Info)

» View all varieties of Salvias

61 members have or want this plant for trade.

Category:
Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Height:
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

Spacing:
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Hardiness:
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade

Danger:
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Violet/Lavender
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
N/A

Foliage:
Grown for foliage
Herbaceous

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors
Suitable for growing in containers

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Non-patented

Propagation Methods:
From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:
Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible

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Profile:

9 positives
7 neutrals
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

RatingAuthorContent
Positive kbschmida On Jul 12, 2012, kbschmida from Tallahassee, FL wrote:

I have grown this plant in the past, but not for several years, for legal reasons.

I found it to be somewhat difficult to grow in Tallahassee, FL, (zone 8b) because the winters are too cold, the summers are too hot, and the rainfall and humidity patterns are too erratic. The plant is killed to the ground by frost. After a Tallahassee, FL winter, new shoots emerged from the ground in spring, but not from all plants.

It would do best in a spider-mite free greenhouse at about 60-75F and 70-80% humidity year-round (tropical cloud forest conditions).

The plant appreciates full sun, as long as the temps and humidity are in the right range. I had best results in part shade due to local conditions that were often too hot and dry.

The plants are moderate to heavy feeders when in active growth. Switch to a low N, high P/K fertilizer in late fall if you plan to try to get them to flower (see below).

It is difficult to get the plant to flower. Because it is a short-day plant (think Christmas Cactus), it won't bud out until November or December in the northern hemisphere, and it is at least 4 ft tall. In most parts of North America, the plant will be a black stick by then. Flowering can be induced by strictly limiting the day length indoors to about 6 hours on/18 hours off when the plant is tall enough. Do not expose the plant to any stray light at all at an inappropriate time or the inflorescences will abort! Block any cracks in the doorway/windows to your grow room to shut out every stray photon! Flowers appear (if you've done everything right) as a terminal raceme. Pollinate the violet/cream tubular flowers with a fine artist's brush. Seeds rarely form, and have low viability, but are highly sought after, as they yield new strains :)

The plant is usually propagated from cuttings. Many elaborate schemes for rooting the cuttings are posted online, but take my humble advice: just stick herbaceous cuttings through holes poked in aluminum foil into a ceramic mug of water (if you use a clear glass and no foil, the cut ends will recurve towards the light) and cover with a transparent dome like a (not green!) capped 2-liter soda bottle with the bottom cut off, and wait. After a month or 2, pot the now rooted cuttings in sterile potting mix and re-cover with the soda bottle. The cuttings will wilt in minutes uncovered at first, but will gradualy become more resilient to lower ambient humidity as the roots develop. Eventually, you can dispense with the dome altogether, and the cuttings are ready to be potted up and go outside into part shade for acclimatization.

Use a rich, well-drained organic soil mix. I had best results with Miracle Gro Moisture Control mix, with added Perlite. Consider a tomato cage, as the plant's growth habit is very vertical, and it is easily blown over. Avoid planting in windy areas to avoid mechanical damage and dessication.

The plant is very succeptible to whiteflies, spider mites, spittlebugs and leafhoppers. Indoors, spider mites tend to ravage the plant.

Positive Northlandsalvia On Dec 12, 2011, Northlandsalvia from Far North
New Zealand wrote:

I have found that Salvia D grows better outdoors in my climate which is sub tropical, high rainfall, high wind and cloud cover.

As soon as I moved the plants raised from cuttings outdoors at the beginning of our summer, they rocketed ahead with their growth, thickening the stem and growing upwards.

I then shifted cuttings from the smaller outdoor grow to a large outdoor growhouse with covered top and sides of heavy duty shade cloth.

In summer it was necessary to water the plants heavily at dusk, as they struggled in the heat.

The plant grows to over 6 foot tall and falls over when it becomes top heavy, with the fallen stems rooting and growing as individual plants.

Harvesting is done all year round and I was lucky enough to get the salvia flowering in full bloom in July with its sweet lavender like fragrance.

When harvesting be sure to dry the leaf out of sunlight and store in a dark, cool dry place as salvias potency degrades in sunlight on harvest.

The leaf is versatile, providing medicinal benefits in the form of chewable leaf, tinctures, tea, and salvia extract.
.

Positive gunitgardener On Aug 21, 2010, gunitgardener from east yorkshire
United Kingdom wrote:

Very good plant to grow for the adventurous if it is legal in your area.
Easily grown in house conditions, i grow mine hydroponically in a simply bubbleponic set up as seen in the plants picture gallery.
The plant is well suited for a bathroom window or similar humid moderately lit area.


Editor's Note:

Off-topic portions of this comment have been removed. The PlantFiles exists as a horticulture reference tool. Its purpose and scope is to give a forum for gardeners to share their opinions on any plant's relative merits in the garden, whether ornamental or culinary; advise against potential toxicity and other dangers; and offer advice on successfully growing (or eradicating) a particular plant.
Positive nightshade777 On Mar 13, 2010, nightshade777 from Philadelphia, PA wrote:

Years ago I grew SD in Santa Monica, CA. It was in a huge planter which I tented using a tomato cage covered with clear plastic. 2-3 times a day I'd open a flap and mist the plant. It grew about 3-4 feet tall on a few large stems but eventually turned black and died. Maybe the roots got moldy. When I cut it down the stems were hollow.

Neutral JamesBeach On Jun 4, 2009, JamesBeach from Orange Cove, CA wrote:

This plant is not a threat. Chocolate is psychoactive; just because something is psychoactive doesn't mean it's a threat to humanity. Do not worry yourself over it. Don't bother growing it, either, as it's not particularly attractive and is a fussy species regardless.


Editor's Note:

Off-topic portions of this comment have been removed. The PlantFiles exists as a horticulture reference tool. Its purpose and scope is to give a forum for gardeners to share their opinions on any plant's relative merits in the garden, whether ornamental or culinary; advise against potential toxicity and other dangers; and offer advice on successfully growing (or eradicating) a particular plant.
Neutral inkblot On Mar 1, 2009, inkblot from Buffalo, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Unless youre an ethnobotanist or a psychonaut, I would not recommend growing S. divinorum. Even if you can get a hold of one of these rare plants, they are very difficult to grow compared to other species of sage.

Positive somamonkey On Feb 10, 2009, somamonkey from Cedar Park, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I live in Central Texas, and managed to encourage this plant's adaptation to the dry Texas climate. I grow this plant in well-drained but moisture-retentive soil (sand, vermiculite, peat moss, and compost). It thrives in the greenhouse between fall and mid spring as it requires high humidity to grow large leaves. My plant "learned" to adapt to drier air by dropping the large leaves and sprouting very small ones along the lower trunk. In this way, it can survive a dry hot summer, although it doesn't look very pretty doing it!

This plant is the only plant in over 900 different Salvia species that produces the misunderstood metabolite we call Salvinorin A. Salvia divinorum is like corn and many other plants that have been selectively bred to express certain genetic traits at the expense of natural reproduction. "Sally D" was basically invented by pre-columbian horticulturalists many thousands of years ago. This plant is a living artifact of prehistoric cultivation, and it should studied as such.

The metabolites of Salvia divinorum posses certain anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties, and the medicinal potential to modern science is great. This plant thrives in the kind of humid, damp environments that other plants would rot in. There is a reason for this. Salvia has found a metabolic means to adapt to this kind of environment via Salvinorin A. Unfortunately, many teenagers (and adults) have learned that Salvinorin A also alters cognitive function. To the people of Oaxaca that use Salvia, it is an herb of healing and divination ("divination" in the Mesoamerican sense is healing). But, to Americans, this is a mysterious and scary plant. It shouldn't be. This plant is an amazing symbol of the antiquity of gardening. It offers many new insights for modern science, if we as a society can keep from banning it.

The ultimate question here is why does a plant produce chemicals that bind to the human nervous system to alter cognitive function? We'll never know the answer to this if we keep banning the plants that do such things.

Positive emptyvessel On Sep 5, 2008, emptyvessel from Quitman, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

A great number of common landscape and ornamental plants are more dangerous than this plant, yet many of us grow them without second thought. I am disappointed to see where the discussion of this plant has gone, but I am not surprised. It is sometimes simpler to condemn that which is not understood, I suppose.
Like all magico-religious herbs from the many cultures around the world who use them, this plant has a rich and even mysterious history. It was rare to find growing here in the US even before the legislation. In its limited native regions, it is thought to require human hands to nurture it. Love it or hate it, it is a very unique plant from pharmacological, botanical, and anthropological points of view. Please try to keep an open mind, fellow plant lovers.

I've had limited success growing this plant. I've kept a couple of cuttings alive for quite some time, but they certainly aren't thriving. I can't seem to get the roots growing and healthy, and have problems with root-rot. No pest problems, other than the occasional white flies. I've been keeping them indoors. If you've had success and would like to share some tips and hints, please let me know.

Neutral nativeviv On Mar 11, 2008, nativeviv from Lafayette, LA (Zone 9a) wrote:

I know this plant will grow here, but my comment is that the State of Louisiana has made this plant illegal to grow. Maybe they should make Ricinus communis illegal. Sheesh. There are so many salvias out there, I want to see who will be policing for this.

Neutral BlueGlancer On Feb 27, 2008, BlueGlancer from South/Central, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

Just heard on the news that the state of Florida is considering banning this plant. They said alot of kids are using it, and filming themselves on YouTube. : (

Neutral thetripscaptain On Jul 4, 2007, thetripscaptain from Racine, WI (Zone 5a) wrote:

Salvia divinorum is a really cool addition to any tropical plant or ethnobotanical collection, but it will rarely flower if not given ultra-optimal conditions. If you're just growing salvias for flowers/appearance, there are much better choices than s. divinorum. Several species of salvia look very similar to s. divinorum but grow much better in colder areas.

Also, I know there is much controversy surrounding this plant, but to deem it "dangerous" is incorrect. The chemical in this plant is actually fairly (physically) safe, even when taken as a drug. I do NOT, however, reccomend that anyone do this. If this plant is simply growing in your garden, it is harmless.

Misinformation can do alot of damage, and it would be a shame if another beautiful and sacred plant was banned because of fear and ignorance.

Positive ManicReality On Apr 24, 2007, ManicReality from Houston, TX (Zone 10a) wrote:

In the past I had no luck with any kind of salvia... Now I treat them like my strawberries... coconut hair hanging baskets, they love it! Where I live is very humid, so the outdoors is good for them. However the soils are often clay (ahem salvias will not tolerate wet feet at all) so the hanging baskets with watering every couple days, they are in love again.


Editor's Note:

Off-topic portions of this comment have been removed. The PlantFiles exists as a horticulture reference tool. Its purpose and scope is to give a forum for gardeners to share their opinions on any plant's relative merits in the garden, whether ornamental or culinary; advise against potential toxicity and other dangers; and offer advice on successfully growing (or eradicating) a particular plant.
Positive spidra On Apr 10, 2007, spidra from Berkeley, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

Condemning Salvia divinorum as a plant because some people derive Salvinorin from it is like condemning Papaver somniferum as a flower/plant because some people derive opiates from it. Negative ratings based on no experience growing this plant ought NOT to be on this site.

I ordered 3 cuttings in 2005 and read what I could find about the plant's care. I transplanted the cuttings to 8" pots. I was very careful about light and humidity. I kept them inside near a north-facing window that gets good light until they were stable enough to start hardening off. Unfortunately, whiteflies were all over the plants in no time (which I couldn't understand since I had no houseplants and there'd been a considerable time when the house was vacant before I bought it). Figuring I had better get them where at least the whiteflies had some predators, I put them outside. One plant died very quickly. The other two's leaves changed consistency because they were now getting more heat and sun. One of the remaining two disappeared - I don't know whether someone stole it or whether an animal ripped it up, but it was pulled out of the pot without a trace. The remaining one died a slow death.

Some say this plant is very easy to grow but that has not so far been the case for me. I'll be making another try this year. I'll have to see if there are other plants or Salvias that would make good companion plants. I am told by those that have had success that Salvia likes average temps that do not dip below the 60s. It likes humidity (but if one is growing it as a houseplant, make sure it's cool humidity). It likes water but one of the most common mistakes beginners make is overwatering it. It's susceptible to root rot. While it can be grown in containers, it does better in the earth.

edited 6/13/07: I've had my new cuttings for a couple months now and they're doing much better. I'm growing them as houseplants because it's easier for me to control the environment. I have 2 at a southern window with white tulle curtains and 2 at a western window with white cloth curtains. The western window only gets the light that makes it in between my neighbor's house and mine (about 6 feet or so wide). The ones with the western exposure look a bit healthier to me so far. The key has been to water only when the plant is dry. I had been told before that they needed humidity and I was constantly misting them. That didn't work out well. They get light but not directly sunlight. I'm having problems with little flies that are hanging around, but not much damage to the plants that I can see. They're so much more attractive when they're healthy! The large green leaves look almost luminous in the right light.

Negative lafko06 On Dec 30, 2006, lafko06 from Brimfield, MA (Zone 5a) wrote:

I read in today's Herald about a potential ban with regulations in the state of Maine. "The substance salvia divinorum is known for its hallucinogenic effects. It is reported, the substance has been used for hundreds of years by Mazatec Indians during religious ceremonies in Mexico." You can google more information on this dangerous plant.

Positive Janett_D On Aug 3, 2005, Janett_D from Gamleby
Sweden (Zone 7a) wrote:

Easy to grow in ordinary soil, pH 6 to 6,5 always moist soil but shall never stand in water.

Easy to get root-rot ; they love humid air so shower it. Never let the plant dry out. if leafs starting to drop water immediately.

Salvia divinorum is a semi-tropical plant; never below 40 F.


Editor's Note:

Off-topic portions of this comment have been removed. The PlantFiles exists as a horticulture reference tool. Its purpose and scope is to give a forum for gardeners to share their opinions on any plant's relative merits in the garden, whether ornamental or culinary; advise against potential toxicity and other dangers; and offer advice on successfully growing (or eradicating) a particular plant.
Neutral winter_unfazed On Feb 24, 2005, winter_unfazed from Rural Webster County, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:

medicinal claims to sallie have been made, the risks far outweigh any alleged benefit.


Editor's Note:

Off-topic portions of this comment have been removed. The PlantFiles exists as a horticulture reference tool. Its purpose and scope is to give a forum for gardeners to share their opinions on any plant's relative merits in the garden, whether ornamental or culinary; advise against potential toxicity and other dangers; and offer advice on successfully growing (or eradicating) a particular plant.
Neutral meek On Jul 13, 2003, meek wrote:

Salvia divinorum is a psychoactive plant, a member of the sage genus. The plant is grown by the Mazatec indigenous people of the Oaxaca mountains in isolated, moist and secret plots. It has been used by their shamans for centuries for healing during spirit journeys. The active chemical, Salvinorin A (there are also B and C forms), is unique in that it is an agonist of neuroreceptors largely ignored by other known drugs. It is extremely powerful, but controllable.

Caution is advised, this plant may be added later to the long list of illegal controlled psychoactive.

Regional...

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Albany, California
Ceres, California
Highgrove, California
Los Angeles, California
Temecula, California
Ventura, California
Brooksville, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Indiantown, Florida
Orange Springs, Florida
Rockledge, Florida
Tallahassee, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Lafayette, Louisiana
Lucedale, Mississippi
Abilene, Texas
Austin, Texas
Houston, Texas



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