Basics of Taking Care of Peyote Cactus Plants - for Staff and Customers:
- Cactus plants must be kept in pots of the correct size - there should never be more than about a half an inch (to an inch max) of soil around the plant. Any more than that and the root mass does not reach into that excess soil, which then will remain moist rather than being ‘drank’ by the roots, and therefore will cause the plant to rot and die.
- Cactus plants must not be over-watered - they can be entirely happy being bone dry for long periods but will die if kept moist for longer than a couple-few days. So, the idea is to keep them in the correct soil (ideally a mix of Grow Stone, quarter-chip lime, perlite, some worm castings, and maybe a bit of peat) and size of pot such that they will drink the water within a couple days and then you can let them happily dry out completely, watering them again after days of dryness - depending on the temperature and season etc. usually every 7-10 days or so.
- As long as they are drinking and drying regularly, watering with a weak nutrient solution of 10-52-10 NPK works
- Once they’ve completely filled out their pot, they are being restricted from further growth, and they should be re-potted but only if and when you are able to give them a correctly-sized (adding about a half-inch to MAXIMUM one inch or so of soil area (diameter, technically) around the body of the cactus). Once they’ve been re-potted into the correctly up-sized pot, they should show their contentment and gratefulness with a period of relatively rapid growth - expanding dramatically within a couple weeks.
- Frank: “What we are trying to do with a re-pot is give the plant a new home that is of adequate size for the plant to grow freely, and contains a well aerated quick draining/drying mix. If we want to go with a pot that might be a little larger than needed we should compensate a little, meaning when we make our mix we add even more of the best draining stuff we have. Perlite comes in the granular size and also in larger quarter or half inch parts. It is very light, offers great aeration and provides for good drainage... when people don't have access to much material I tell them to add up to fifty percent perlite to keep it drying quick. The only problem with perlite is if a person top-waters it tends to cause all the perlite in the mix to float to the surface. If you bottom water you won't have that issue. As for potting multiple plants in one pot. They love being near each other. When potting together multiple plants, you want about an inch between each plant because they are both going to grow.”
- Cactus kept indoors under light will not enter a ‘dormant period’ but should continue to grow (and happily flower) all year round. So the idea is to keep them happy and growing, flowering, watering and fed all year round.
- Many Peyote species are not self-pollinating - pollen from one plant’s pistils (male parts) won’t cause that same plant’s stamens (female parts) to create seeds - they need to have someone purposefully take pollen from one plant’s pistils and transfer them to another plant’s stamens in order to impregnate them to cause them to make seeds. The best way to do that may be with a natural camel-hair paint brush, gently touching the (generally yellow) pollen from the pistils surrounding the stamens, and transferring it to the stamens in the midst of another plant’s pistils.
- While they aren’t super-delicate plants, there is a bit of a protective coating on many cactus plants and while touching them a little won’t do them any harm, excessive handling can of course transmit pests and disease and oils or other contaminants from fingers (or inconsiderate roughness) can definitely do irreversible damage. It’s best to not allow people to handle the plants, bottom line.
- Red Spider Mites are as terrible a pestilence for Peyote cactus as they are for a Cannabis plant. They are however slightly easier to fight on cactus since there isn’t as much complicated and massive surface area for them to hide in and torture us from. Red Spider Mites can come in from any number of sources - on people’s hands, clothes, on dogs or other pets, even on flies and bees that fly in through an open door or window! The first sign of Red Spider Mite infestation starting is a ‘haze’ on the surface of the cactus plants. You must constantly vigilantly be on the lookout for this haze and if you see any such sign, get out a magnifier (minimum 10x jeweler’s loupe or little 30x or 60-100x hand microscope type thing that we sell for this purpose as well as harvest timing etc) and look for the horrible little bugs. Catch them early and do battle with Safer’s End-All and get rid of them before they get out of hand and do real damage! Spray at least three times but do it over six days... leave a day in between each... and that should cover it but always go back and check day seven and eight.
SOME THINGS THAT A CANADIAN PEYOTE CACTUS CULTIVATOR OUGHT TO KNOW
In issue #13 of Cannabis Culture there is an article on the Peyote Foundation as well as information that is useful.
THC (Toronto Hemp Company) sells a book or two that are full of information about cultivating Peyote and other interesting cactus and plants.
From November till March, most cactus are in a dormant state. Watering should be done sparingly; like once a month. Should the plant show signs of shriveling then it follows that more water is needed. Always allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
DO NOT FERTILIZE DURING THE DORMANT CYCLE UNLESS YOU WANT TO KILL YOUR PLANTS.
Winter temperature 20c. Summer temperature 30c or 40 plus if you have a greenhouse.
A 400 Watt metal halide lamp will suffice. 1000 Watt is better yet. Those who are using natural sunlight must make sure it is abundant diffuse light and not direct sunlight because direct sunlight will burn even mature peyote plants. This is known as phototoxicity and the plant will turn reddish brown. A whiteish scab will form around the cactus, but this is the plant healing itself. After a while, the scab will fall off and green growth will follow. This is similar to us having a sunburn and the inevitable peeling of skin.
Tall and thin means that there is not enough light.
In the wild, peyote can take up to ten years before producing its first flower. Plants grown at home under optimal conditions may take only five years to reach this rate of growth.
Watering during the summer months depends on your particular setup. Watering once a week is all they really need (good soak) during those dog days of summer. Overwatering will kill unless the root rot gets there first; so it is better to be a little cautious and under water rather than drown the cacti.
To steer you in the direction of successful cultivation, there are two things that helped.
Get a copy of Peyote and other Psychoactive Cacti by Adam Gottlieb. Most of what I know I got from this book.
Consider supporting The Peyote Foundation P.O. Box 778 Kearny Arizona 85237
Membership is $40.00 U.S. annually and apart from a one year subscription to The Peyote Foundation Journal you will be helping to do your part in seeing that this sacrament and medicine is not lost.
In 2001, I will have accumulated enough information on products an practices that work. You can thank the peyote foundation for that, for without the help of Leo and Raven, this would have been much more difficult.