Salvia Seed Sowing here's how:

Salvia_guy(z8 OR)February 24, 2005

I've been noticing several questions about salvia seed sowing and germination. Here's the method I use to start my salvia seeds. I germinate hundreds of seeds of many different species.

Salvia Seed Sowing

Fill pots with moist potting mix that drains well. Sow seeds on the surface of the potting mix. Mist seeds well after sowing.

Optional Step

Place pots in a tub or sink filled with warm water. Allow the water to seep up through the mix until it breaks the mix surface. Remove the pots and allow to drain.

Place pots with sown seeds in a bright window. Cover pots with a plastic bag, for individual pots. If using a seed sowing kit place pots in tray and cover the whole tray with the plastic dome. Keep seeds moist, mist if needed.

A heat pad will help with germination.

Most salvia seeds will develop a gelatinous coating once they are moistened. Some will also develop a fuzzy mold on this coating prior to germinating. Salvia seeds start to germinate ( when the root first breaks through the seed shell) anywhere from 2 - 14 days, some may take even longer. A light misting can help stubborn seeds germinate.

Once most of the seeds have germinated and the seed leaves have emerged remove the covering from the pots. When the second set of true leaves appear pot the seedlings up into individual pots. This can be done after the first set of true leaves appear if the seedlings are getting lanky or are large.

Water seedlings from the bottom as needed.

PLEASE NOTE: Some species germinate better after the seeds have been aged (8 mths. to a year) in dry storage. I use paper coin envelopes to store my seed. I do not refrigerate them.


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CA Kate

thanks for the 101... I've saved it for future reference.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 12:19PM
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Thanks from here too, Salvia guy.

Jan --about to start Salvia for the first time

PS. How about putting that into a FAQ?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2005 at 10:31PM
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I winter sowed my Salvia outdoors with pretty much the same method. I used seed starting soil and large & small styrofoam cups or 4 in. pots. I put them in clear plastic storage containers on a table outside. I started them on Winter solstice and the last were done by the end of January. So far I have 50% germinated!! I had good success last year Winter Sowing Salvias also. I thought they needed a 4 week cold period so did not do any in the greenhouse with heatmat.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2005 at 9:15PM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

SG and Phoebe,
i too have had very good success with wintersowing my salvia seeds. Farinacea is an excellent candidate for wintersowing especially in colder zones.


    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 11:02AM
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jwmeyer(Z8 OR)

All good inf. Just so I understand this, you just lay the seed on top of the soil and water from the bottom? As you can tell, i'm new at seed starting..

Thanks a lot...

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 8:32PM
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Salvia_guy(z8 OR)

You surface sow then mist the seed well, then water from bottom.


    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 9:36AM
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penny1947(z6 WNY)

Misting the seed from the top after you sow it helps the seed to settle in and make good contact with the soil.


    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 7:19AM
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jwmeyer(Z8 OR)

OK, thanks.....

    Bookmark   March 3, 2005 at 8:45PM
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julie79(z5/6 MA)

Thanks for all the tips. I'm new to growing salvia and appreciate them all.

I bought a packet of Perennial Salvia Oxford Blue (Salvia patens) at the New England Flower Show yesterday and am wondering whether it's suitable for winter sowing. It's a front tender perennial, zones 5-9. (The packet says to lift the tuberous roots in winter, as for dahlias.)

Do any of you have experience with this variety?

If I can get it to germinate and grow (a big "if"!), will it flower this summer?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 12:03PM
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Julie: zone 5 sounds liberal. Betsy says low 20's and mine survived 24* heavily mulched with pebbles and redwood.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 12:20PM
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flyskyhigh40(z17 N.Ca)

so...just how do you collect the seed from a salvia? Living and experimenting in N.california and have a few wonderful and bright colored salvia. When and how do you collect seed if at all possible.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 11:52PM
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Just the info I was hopeing to find. Have a few hundred seed taken from various salvia last year. Can't wait to see what kind of mix I get.

Question... should I let them bloom this year??? Will blooming weaken root growth??? Also, I have heard that these plants won't be as long lived as the parent stock???

Again thanks for the info..

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 12:03AM
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I would like to see some information here on pinching salvias. In the past, I have only growing farinacea 'Victoria', 'Victoria White', and 'Strata'. I would pinch those at about 4 inches tall, with fingernail clippers. This year, I am growing those along with, what I guess is, Salvia spendens: 'Hotline Burgundy', 'Flare' and 'Salsa Bicolor'. These plants have grown differently than farinaceas. Just when I was about the pinch the tops of them, they were sending out a flower bud! I went ahead and pinched the tops, but left the flower buds. Should I have pinched them as well? My plants are super tough plants, about 5 or 6 inches tall, perfect even growth on all plants. I now have them outside hardening off, as I always do right after pinching (if the weather is right). I would like to know if I should have pinched the flowers off as well.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2005 at 10:50PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Interesting post, Salvia_guy. Thanks. I have experience with germinating only one species: Salvia mellifera. I found that germination was easy. The problems are with keeping the seedlings growing after they are a couple of weeks old. Out of all of my hundreds of seedlings, I had ONE that was doing really nicely by last spring, and then it suddenly almost died and has still not recovered to anything like its condition as of a year ago. I have a few others limping along, plus some new ones (tiny!) germinated from the original seed this spring. The seed rapidly loses viability after a few months. This is a bumper year for S. mellifera flowers in the wild, so I should be able to collect lots of seed to try again. In the meantime, I'll probably also try some cuttings. I just want to get one or two big enough to transplant into my yard. My area is native habitat for S. mellifera.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 1:39AM
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I'm bumping this older thread to solicit advice on the Salvia seeds I'm having more trouble germinating - apiana, clevelandii, dorii, leucophylla, and to a lesser extent, mellifera. i'm essentially using salvia guy's method, but instead of potting mix I'm using 4 parts vermiculite/2 parts sand/1 part potting soil.

I pulled the following from Seeds of Change's website about possible aids to germination and am looking for thoughts on wherther any of the following are worthwhile (I've used only the peroxide, with no noticable results):

Smoke and charred-wood leachate (water in which charred wood has been soaked) may stimulate germination of plants from fire-prone habitats with hot, dry summers, such as the Mediterranean, California, South Africa and Australia.

GA-3 is sometimes used in very low concentrations, from 1 ppm to 150 ppm, to promote the germination of non-dormant seeds.

Hydrogen peroxide stimulates many species. Seeds are soaked in a 1 - 3% solution for 5 minutes to 48 hours for hard seeds. We have had very good results.

Presoaking seeds in malt extract solution or in beer may increase germination and vigor, especially of old seeds, due to enzyme enrichment. Higher resistance to damping off and higher yields have been reported.

Sodium hypochlorite (household bleach) has been used in a 1% solution for a one-hour presoak to stimulate germination of some species. Mix one part bleach with 4 1/4 parts water for a 1% solution. A ten minute soak in one part bleach plus one part water is an FDA approved seed disinfectant.

Potassium nitrate (KNO3) is often used to stimulate germination of dormant or irregular seeds. It can replace the light requirement of some pines. The seeds are soaked in a 1000 to 3000ppm solution (1 - 3 grams per liter), or are germinated on pads soaked in this solution. Concentration is not crucial, so 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per quart is fine. It is about 6 grams per teaspoon. In our tests, some seeds which normally give seedlings over 3 months have all come up in a month with KNO3.

1 Like    Bookmark   October 14, 2007 at 10:34PM
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Yes, seed sowing is very easy, but last year I got into wintersowing which is different and might be the thing for people that dont have the time or desire to do the inside stuff. Take a look.

Here is a link that might be useful: winter sowing outside.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2007 at 11:04AM
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peterls(N Yorks, UK)

If I may make a suggestion - I always mist each day with a dilute copper solution. Its called Cheshunt Powder in the UK. It's used to prevent rot and damping off.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2007 at 3:17PM
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Carolinaflowerlover NC Zone 7b

I know this is old, but I am so glad to read it. Thank you! I saw my salvia seeds today with a fuzzy coating, and it worried me (though I saw a few sprouting). I think I tossed ones in the past like that. I am glad it is normal. :)

    Bookmark   March 14, 2015 at 7:22PM
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