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World Seed Supply’s Guide to Growing Heimia Salicifolia & Myrtifolia

Heimia Salicifolia is an important Aztec herb featured on the statue of Xochipilli.  Several unique alkaloids have been isolated from these heimia species that have been reported to have tranquilizing and anti-inflammatory properties.  Heimia Salicifolia and myrtifolia are extremely similar both in appearance and active alkaloids.  In fact, reports indicate that myrtifolia may be more active than salicifolia despite the popularity and historical significance of salicifolia.  So the information in this guide can be used to grow either species. With the exception of the fact that the seedlings start out so tiny, heimia is a very easy plant to grow and is good for beginning growers. It can be grown easily indoors and will tolerate a wide range of environments.

Heimia seeds are extremely small, like dust.  In nature, the wind would carry Heimia seeds, dropping them on the surface of the soil, where they would eventually sprout. No amount of burying is necessary. It is also a general cultivation rule that the size of the seeds determines how deep the seed should be buried. In the case of really tiny seeds, they should be surfaced sowed, meaning that they should simply be pressed into the surface of the soil allowing light to reach them. Before sowing the seeds, make sure the soil is misted lightly so that the seeds have available moisture to absorb.
After sowing, you want to cover the container with a piece of clear plastic to seal in the humidity. If the soil is moist enough and you mist regularly, they will grow without the plastic, but it makes life much easier. Plus, with the plastic on, you may not have to water because the evaporating water will condense on the plastic and drop back to the soil. If at any point you notice the soil is drying out, simply remove the plastic and mist the soil with a fine mister. This will occur more often if your temperature is higher. Be sure to add the correct amount of water to your soil and then remove the excess water collected on your plastic so that it doesn’t drop back into the soil and cause too much soil moisture. Although mature plants will take as much water as you can give them, I have an unconfirmed suspicion that the seeds can be drowned. A temperature of about 70 degrees F should be fine. Using florescent lights or placing in front of a sunny window will both work for germination and plant growth.
From seed until it is a few inches high, Heimia S. grows painfully slow. Let them take as long as they need. It won’t continue like this forever. In the meantime, just keep the plastic on and make sure the soil stays moist. Be sure to mist if needed. When the seedlings are about 1/2?-3/4? you can take the plastic off. Continue to keep the soil very moist. At 2 1/2? it is an ideal time to transplant.
The soil you use in the new pots should be similar to the soil you used for germinating. Have your pots set up beforehand so that you can quickly transfer the seedlings without them spending much time in the open air. When transplanting, the most important thing to consider is to disturb the roots as little as possible. You’re most likely going to have a million roots tangled together, so some disturbance will inevitably occur. Some gentle prodding with a fork might be useful to help separate the roots.
Keep the seedlings out of any intense light and heat as they are especially vulnerable after transplanting. If at any point you notice wilting, make sure to water and put a plastic baggie over them to seal in humidity. You should keep this continually moist. Heimia plants are amazingly resilient to wilting, but they enjoy as much water as you can give them.  Heimia Salicifolia, once established, will prefer partial sun. If under-watered, H. Salicifolia plants will wilt drastically, looking as if they are dead. They may also drop leaves. If you catch it within the first day of this you can almost always bring it back by saturating the soil. Any dead material should be cut back, which will result in a fuller plant.
Heimia plants can be reproduced by cuttings from mature plants. But since heimia tends to have woody stems, they can be a little tougher to root than other Mexican entheogens like calea zacatechichi or salvia divinorum.  To minimize the difficulty of the process, it is best to select the newest growth because it is likely to be the softest.  Soft growth roots easier than woody growth.  You also want to use a rooting hormone, which can be either a commercial rooting hormone or a natural tea made of white willow bark (salix alba).  Commercial rooting hormones typically contain indole-3-butyric acid and can be found in powder or gel form. The gel is preferred since it sticks to the stem even in water.
Another trick with rooting heimia salicifolia is to remove all but the top few leaves. This will lighten the load on the plant because it will not have to support so many leaves.  A cutting that has been cut from the support of the roots on a mother plant is like a parent that has lost his or her job.  By sending the kids off to live with grandma, or by trimming off some of the leaves in the cutting’s case, the parent has a better chance of surviving on savings and what little money he or she can scrounge without a formal income.  So in those terms, the cutting can live on stored water and what little water it can draw up through its unrooted stem.  Soft stems usually absorb water quicker, which is probably one reason why they tend to be easier to root than woody stems.