Growing Salvias and other Chaparral Plants from Seed

Most California Salvias are Native to Chaparral Areas

Fires were once a natural occurrence and re-generator of life in these areas. Many chaparral plants can be burned to a stump, and new growth appears again once the rains come. The fires also helped to create a mineral-rich seed bed and reduce competition, allowing the seed bank in the soil to germinate.

As propagators, we can duplicate some of these conditions by pre-soaking the seed with a ‘smoke paper’.  The smoke papers can be purchased at

I put a section of the paper in a small bowl, add my seeds, and soak it all in warm water for 8 to 12 hours. Then I sow the seed in a container outside.

A clay pot is the best container to use when germinating seeds of the species that like really dry conditions, such as White Sage.

Germination occurs in about 4 to 6 weeks, and seedlings are ready to transplant in another two to three months. The cotyledons are tiny wedge-shaped leaves with the straight edges on opposite sides of the stem; and very typical of all Mint family plants. Seedlings are susceptible to over-watering, but once they really take hold, they grow fast and will be a mature shrub in about a year.