Salvia divinorum - a member of the Family: Mint (Lamiaceae), Genus: Sage (Salvia, Latin, meaning "to save"), Species: S. divinorum, (Latin meaning "divination") - is an unusual plant in so many ways.
First, it is a plant that has been cultivated for so long in only one part of the world - in the cloud forest of the Sierra Madre region of Oaxaca, Mexico, home of the Mazatec Indians - that it has become its own species, and is therefore considered to be a cultigen: "...a plant that has been deliberately altered or selected by humans; it is the result of artificial selection." Until the mid 1990's Salvia was only grown in this remote area of Mexico and grew nowhere in the wild. Now it really needs human attention and appears to be getting it from entheogenically inclined people all over the world who have chosen to grow and propagate it in the own countries.
Salvia divinorum's Endemic Home
The State of Oaxaca, Mexico (Latitude 16 degrees, 20 minutes N)
Understandably, Salvia is best adapted to its native environment: cloudy, humid, warm air, diffuse sunlight, in the ravines, along riversides, in the subtropics where day length is very close to a regular routine of 12 hours of light, 12 hours of dark.
I grew Salvia when I first learned about it back in 2000, in my apartment in Portland, Maine (here is a great pdf Map of Maine). I did pretty well, but the strain I was trying to grow seemed somewhat flacid and weak (I believe it was a Wasson/Hofmann clone). Anyway, Southern Maine (Latitude 43 degrees, 30 minutes N) is much farther North than Oaxaca, Mexico. My first Salvia growing attempts failed because I ended up having to move out of my apartment and couldn't take my plants. But I vowed to try again someday.
Let's look at some specific conditions that make Oaxaca ideal.
Below are some pictures I linked to through the master Salvia Gardener (and my hero) Sea Mac's terrific sites...
The Secret SAGE Garden
Sea Mac's Photo Journal
Grow your OWN Salvia Seeds
Sea Mac's Botanical Research Page
These are pictures from Sea Mac's friend, Jupe...
Salvia grows in an ideal environment...
And an image of the soil, barky-rich, some-what sandy...
Here is a great picture of Salvia being harvested...
Sea Mac hails from San Diego where the temps and weather are more like the native environment of Mexico. He has been able to achieve astounding success (biggest Salvia divinorum plants on the web and maybe on earth!)...
Giant Salvia of the Amazing Sea Mac!
I strongly urge folks to visit all of the links that Sea Mac offers. He is a gentle genius and great internet mentor for salvia growers everywhere.
I had the opportunity recently to get in touch with him. I would love to do an audio interview, and that might be something to look forward to in the future here at SoftAcres.
Also in the future will be the next installment on this particular thread, Growing Salvia divinorum in Maine: Maine Winter and the Indoor Desert.