UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA


Garden Help > Herbs

Chia, Salvia hispanica, is a member of the mint family and is native to Mexico and Central America. Chia is grown primarily for the small mottle-colored seeds which are used as a food source. There is another plant grown for seeds, Salvia columbariae, that is commonly known as golden chia, desert chia, or California sage. This discussion will focus on S. hispanica.

How to grow

Chia is frost sensitive and is known to die back in winter in Santa Clara County. If not all seeds are harvested, the plants will self-seed for the following season.

  • Type: Grown as an annual, but may be perennial in frost-free microclimates
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade
  • Soil: Well-drained
  • Water: Low 
  • Size: 2–3' high, 1–2' wide

When to plant/propagate

  • From seed: Direct seed after the last frost date in spring, or sow seeds indoors 8-10 weeks prior to the last frost date
  • Transplants: Plant seedlings when the danger of frost is past
  • Cuttings & divisions: Can propagate via cuttings and divisions

Harvesting: In late fall, collect seed pods when they just begin to turn brown, and dry in a well-ventilated space. Crush the pods to release the seeds, and separate out the chaff. 


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