Growing White Sage Pt 1: Salvia Apiana

White Sage (Salvia Apiana) is not the culinary sage, rather is the smudging sage – the sage that Native Americans and many spiritual people burn to give off an aromatic smoke that cleanses the air of bad energy. Now, whatever you believe in with this type of thing and whatever your spiritual practises are, I love smudging. I enjoy the aroma and I also find it helps me feel lighter of spirit. During stressful periods in my life, I try and smudge often, also smudging the office and places of stress to hopefully remove residual negative energy I have left behind. There is also some scientific evidence that the smoke helps balance the positive ions emitted from TVs, wifi and the other electrical devices that pervade our lives. Its good stuff.

Enjoying its uses, I have tried ¬†often to grow it from seed. I have had some success in germination, albeit at a low take up rate (10 – 15% of seeds) however something always seems to come up which leaves me with no alive plants. Mostly this comes down to me going away and a neighbour who I’ve asked to water them, forgets and they die. I’ve found this close to heartbreaking! Most recently I had 3 or 4 seedlings growing, I went to Melbourne for only 4 days only. I even put a watering reminder in my partners email calendar. Still she forgot and in 4 short days, they were dead.

I have a clear slate for the next 6 months at least now though with no planned trips away, so I am attempting to grow them again. We have to keep in mind that its a desert plant, so growing in the humid Gold Coast conditions will always prove challenging.

White Sage - Salvia Apiana

Germinated white sage seedling – 2 weeks after planting

About 2 weeks ago though I planted about 40 seeds into a cactus raising mix. This was in a 4 x 5 punnet seed raising tray. Today I see about 5 seeds have germinated. A typically low germination rate, however they have only just started to show themselves so I may get more. I do have many more seeds though, so what I thought I’d do is keep planting 10 or so seeds in the empty punnets per week, rotating through the tray, and see if I can fill the tray through effort of numbers. So today I planted 10 more seeds in the first row of empty punnets. I’ll do another row each week till I either run out of seeds or fill the tray with seedlings.

Successful germination itself is a bit of a challenge as you need to keep the seeds moist – but the plant itself requires well drained soil, full sun, desert like conditions. So there is a real balancing act through germination to a critical size, where you need to give the plants what they need, without letting them dry out and die, or get water logged and die. I’ll write another post is a few months with an update on how I am going.


About the author

I am a keen backyard gardener. I love getting my hands dirty, the magic of new life it brings, but most of all I love the taste of food I get to grow

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