This project was undertaken by the head gardener of Enchanted Plants Nursery, Micah, and so it is him writing this post.
(Note this blog entry is aimed at the personal experience and journey of producing seeds, rather than the technical information.)
Salvia divinorum was my second plant after Cissus quadrangularis back in 2015 and so I was quite the gardening novice when I first got the plant. However I seemed to click instantly with it and felt a strong calling to grow it. Soon after receiving my first Salvia divinorum plant it even came to me in a dream showing me how to care for it and propagate it vegetatively for mass numbers. I can’t explain the connection I felt with this plant but I somehow already knew that this was my mission, and so off I set. I grew it for several years and during this time I honed my growing tek to the find the most ideal conditions I could for it, changing different variables one at a time until I found what it liked the most. I also gathered a number of the “Classic” Salvia divinorum clones over these years too.
Now with several years experience growing this plant, having a number of different clones in my collection and a deeper understanding of botany, which I had been studying a long side any information on Salvia divinorum plants that I could acquire, I once again felt another calling – this time it was to produce seeds. However I had also learnt this was regarded as near impossible and that seeds have never even been observed on plants in the wild. It seemed I had my work cut out for me, but I somehow I felt ready for the challenge.
My 1st attempt at producing seeds however was a failure, this didn’t surprise me much as I had read of other peoples attempts going the same way. It was quite disappointing but not disheartening enough to deter me and so I went back to the drawing board. After learning what techniques weren’t working from my first attempt I started to come up with some of my own ideas to create a fresh plan. Using these new pollination and seeding techniques as well as crossing different clones (not all of the classic clones produced seeds in my experience) I am very pleased to announce that I was successful in producing viable seeds! All in all I managed to produce 108 seeds. Wooo! 😀 I kept 91 for myself and sent 17 to a friend to attempt to grow.
However this story isn’t all happy and positive. Right at the end of this seeding project I started to fear my plants had caught a virus as there was unusual unhealthy growth which I hadn’t encountered before.
Prior to this I had done the amateur mistake of receiving a number of different plant species from several different sources from around the world and placing them all in with my Salvias instead of quarantining the new plants first. In the grow area it was very cramped with all my Salvias and the new plants touching one another. These new plants had also brought in some aphids which soon spread to all my plants. (Both aphids, and plants touching one another are ways in which plant viruses can be spread.) I was busy with other things at the time so it took me a while to get round to eradicating the aphids, but eventually I did.
After the seed project I left my Salvias to grow for a while but the deformed growth remained and there was no longer any signs of pests. Due to this I made the decision to dispose of them all, it broke my heart.
I kept the seeds but in the back of my head I was worried that the seeds would also turn out to be infected. I was hoping they might of been produced before the mother plants got infected and so they would have escaped it. After sowing them however this seemed to not be the case. 27 out of my 91 germinated, amongst them 12 seedlings appeared healthy and 15 seedlings appeared deformed and were stunted in growth. All the seeds were grown in the same condition, and some even in the same containers as you will see from the photos, and so this can’t of been an environmental issue. It seemed most likely a virus was passed down to some seeds and some others had escaped this, indicating the ones which escaped it are more likely have a higher natural resistance to viruses which is fantastic news for the genetics of these plants.
They were all grown in the same conditions, just a few trays over from one another, and so if healthy they should have all grown fairly equally as well as each other. This however was not the case and the seedlings which had deformed and stunted growth remained like this, it was not something they grew out of. This to me seemed to suggest it was a good chance it was a virus.
The photo below is the last day I had all of my seed raised Salvia divinorums before I decided it was time to dispose of the deformed and stunted ones or potentially risk spreading a virus to my other plants.