Peyote Info

What are Peyote Cactus?

Peyote are a small, spineless, button shaped cactus that grow in the Southwestern United States and Northern Mexico. They are green to blueish green in color and have soft hairy tufts instead of needles. They produce tiny flowers that range in color from pink, purple and white. 

Peyote contain the psychedelic compound mescaline. Indigenous peoples have used peyote for its hallucinogenic properties in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. They believe it facilitates healing on mental, spiritual, and physical levels. It is also a way for them to connect to the divine, believed to allow them to communicate with the spirits of ancestors and deities.

Despite their psychoactive properties, peyote are legal to buy, sell, and cultivate in many countries including Canada. However, the extraction of mescaline or consumption of mescaline containing cacti is typically illegal and not recommended by Sacred Buttons. 

Under proper conditions, peyote usually flower around the two to three year mark. Peyote are a slow growing cactus, but this makes your first flower that much more special. Your peyote will flower fastest if you take proper care of it. Here are some tips on how to grow peyote. These tips will work for columnar cacti such as the San Pedro as well.   


Potting Instructions

When potting your new cactus, it is best to use an unglazed terracotta pot like the ones sold HERE on our website. These types of pots are porous and allow water to evaporate from the soil quicker. Cactus do not like to have wet roots for extended periods. Because of this, it is also important to choose a pot with drainage holes in the bottom. This will prevent water from pooling in the bottom of the pot and rotting the roots of your cactus.

A 4-inch wide pot should be sufficient. Using too large of a pot will cause the soil to stay moist for too long. Use a deep enough pot to allow plenty of room for the roots to grow. If the roots growth are obstructed, the cactus will become root bound and its growth will be stunted.

For soil, a high-quality cactus mix works well. However, a better option is mixing 3 parts nutrient-free potting soil (like Pro-Mix HP) with 1 part coarse sand and 1 part sifted limestone screenings or pea gravel (limestone is preferred). This mix mimics the limestone-rich environments peyote prefers, keeping the soil alkaline. Ensure the sand is coarse and the limestone screening is sifted to remove powder, as fine particles can harden the soil. Watch our video on making your own soil HERE. You may also purchase this soil premade HERE on our website.

It helps to pre moisten the soil before potting. The soil shouldn't be saturated but moist enough that it holds its shape when squeezed. This will guard against soil falling through the drainage holes of your pot while potting. It also helps to fill an inch or so of soil into the bottom of the pot and pack it down tightly before potting to further guard against soil loss.

To pot the cactus, hold it in the pot and fill soil around it with a spoon. Do not bend or curl the tap root of a peyote cactus. It must be planted pointing strait down or the growth of the cactus may be stunted. Cover only the roots with soil, keeping it away from the cactus body. This will prevent damp soil from staying in contact which will prevent infections. 

San Pedro and Peruvian Torch have a thin section where the roots are attached. This section can be burred up to the thicker part of the cactus body to help stabilize the cactus.

Wait a few days before watering to allow the roots to get over the shock of the transplant and use plain water (no fertilizer) for the first couple of waterings. Repot your peyote cactus once a year into a bigger pot. This will allow you to freshen the soil and make sure that the taproot has not become root bound. San Pedro and Peruvian Torch can be repotted when roots are seen growing from the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. Watch our potting video HERE. A complete potting kit with everything you need to pot your new cactus can be purchased HERE


Cactus Care Instructions


It does not take much light to grow peyote. In fact, direct sunlight may burn them. They will be happy outside in the shade or inside on a windowsill with indirect sunlight. They will also do well indoors under grow lights. Florescent bulbs can be kept fairly close (6-12 inches away). More powerful LED lights should be kept further away (2 feet or more). 

5000k-6000k daylight grow lights will promote growth and work best for young cacti and seedlings. Using full spectrum grow lights for mature cacti will promote flowering. Lights should be set to a cycle of 16 hours on and 8 hours off using a timer.

If your peyote cactus starts to turn reddish in color, it is receiving too much light and should be moved away from the light source. If it begins to grow tall and skinny instead of short and stout, it is not receiving enough light and should be moved closer to the light source.  

Columnar cacti such as San Pedro prefer bright light and can handle six to eight hours of full sun per day once mature. Although, harsh sunlight can still burn them causing them to turn yellowish in color. In this case they should be given less sunlight per day. Make sure to acclimate your new San Pedro cactus to direct sunlight slowly. Giving young cacti extended periods of full sun right away will burn them.


Water your cactus as soon as the soil dries completely. An underwatered cactus will grow slower than a properly watered one, but an overwatered cactus may rot and become sick. Water your cactus from the top until water runs out of the holes in the bottom of your pot. Pots with drainage holes should always be used to prevent excess water from pooling in the bottom and rotting the roots. 

Fertilizing on a regular schedule using a fertilizer designed for use with cacti will also help. We suggest using Shultz Liquid Cactus Fertilizer.  Watch our video covering watering HERE.


Keeping your cactus between 70F-90F (21C-32C) will help it to grow more quickly. I find 80F (26.5C) to be the sweet spot. Colder temperatures will slow growth while higher temperatures will encourage things like fungus and mold. 


Seed Germination 

Preparing the Soil

When germinating cactus seeds such as Peyote and San Pedro it is best to use a high-quality potting or seed starting mix that contains no nutrients. I prefer to use Pro-Mix HP. The seedlings will not require nutrients. They are very sensitive in the early stages and nutrients may burn them.

Start by slowly adding spring water to the soil until it reaches field capacity. It is important to use spring water as tap water may have harsh chemicals that will hurt germination rates. Also, stay away from reverse osmosis and distilled water as these contain no beneficial minerals.

You’ll know when the soil is at field capacity when you squeeze a handful of it firmly and only a few drops of water drip from your hand. Mix in the water bit by bit (squeeze testing the soil often) so you don’t over saturate the soil. If a stream of water pours from your hand when the soil is firmly squeezed, the soil is too wet and more dry soil must be added. 

Once the soil reaches field capacity it can be placed into an oven safe bowl. Fill the bowl completely, but do not pack the soil in. Leave it light and airy. Then cover the bowl with aluminum foil. Seal it well to keep as much moisture in as possible during the pasteurization process.

Now pierce the probe from a digital meat thermometer through the aluminum foil and push it down into the soil. Try to get the tip of the probe as close to the center of the soil mass as possible. The alarm on the thermometer should be set to 180F.

Lastly, place the bowl into a conventional oven and then set the oven to 200F. When the thermometer alarm sounds, turn off the oven and leave the bowl inside until it is completely cooled. The temperature of the soil may continue to rise after the oven is turned off and this is okay.

The temperature should stay between 180F and 200F for around 10 to 20 minutes. This is when the pasteurization process takes place. If the temperature reaches above 200F remove the bowl from the oven immediately. Temperatures above 200F will kill off beneficial organisms in the soil. Once the soil is completely cooled it can be used and should be used as soon as possible.

Preparing the Container

To prepare the germination container, drill several 1/4-inch drainage holes in the bottom. I use clear Tupperware containers that can be purchased at your local dollar store. The containers should be at least a few inches deep.

Choosing clear plastic will make it much easier to monitor the moisture level of the soil once you begin watering the cacti. The drainage holes will prevent the soil from becoming over saturated.

It is also a good idea to label the container with the type of seeds that you plan to germinate and the date. 

Preparing the Work Area

It is important to work clean at this point to prevent the soil in the germination container from becoming contaminated. The cleaner you work at this point, the less chance you will encounter a contamination.

Prior to sowing the seeds, turn off any fans or AC units in the area that may be blowing dust and mold spores around. It is also a good idea to perform this work after showering and putting on freshly laundered clothes.

Using 99% isopropyl alcohol, disinfect the work surface, your hands and forearms, the germination container, and a spoon.

Sowing the Seeds

To sow the seeds, remove the aluminum foil from the bowl containing the pasteurized soil and transfer the soil to the germination container using the disinfected spoon.

Flatten the surface of the soil in the germination container with the back of the spoon. Try to get the surface as smooth as possible without compacting the soil too much. You want the soil to stay light and airy. You also want to leave an inch or so of room between the surface of the soil and the top of the container. You will be covering the container with plastic wrap so it is important to leave room for the seedlings to grow. 

Once the soil is level, sprinkle your seeds onto the surface. Do not bury the seeds. They will require light in order to germinate. The seeds should not be planted too densely either. Once they germinate they will need room to grow so it is important not to plant them too close together.

Now give the entire surface of the soil a good spray with pure 3% hydrogen peroxide using a spray bottle. This will help to sterilize the seeds, soil, and increase germination rates. The hydrogen peroxide does not need to be diluted. Finally, cover the container tightly with plastic wrap. You may secure it with tape if needed. 


Place the container in indirect sunlight (direct sun will burn them) or under a grow light. I recommend using a grow light as they are easier to control than natural light. Fluorescent lights should be placed around two feet away while more powerful LEDs should be placed 3 feet or more. Set a timer for 16 hours on and 8 hours off. The little seedlings will be very sensitive to light, so you will have to play around to find the optimal height for your specific light.

When the seedlings sprout, they should be bright green in color. If they are red or orange in color, they are receiving too much light and should be moved away from the light. If they begin to grow tall and skinny, they are not receiving enough light and should be moved closer to the light. 


For the best germination rates, temperature should reach above 80F (26.5C) to a maximum of 90F (32C) while the lights are on, and should dip down between 70F (21C) and 60F (15.5C) while the lights are off. This will mimic their natural desert environment and increase germination rates.  A heat mat can help you achieve higher temperatures during the day. If this temperature fluctuation cannot be achieved, try to keep them in a warm spot at a constant 80F. Germination should take place within 2-14 days.

Maintaining the Seedlings

Once the seedlings sprout, maintain temperature between 70°F and 90°F, with a constant 80°F being ideal. Colder temperatures will slow growth, while higher temperatures may encourage fungus and mold.

Keep the container covered until the seedlings are at least a centimeter in diameter. Avoid opening the container to prevent contamination and to protect the seedlings from dry air.

The soil should stay moist while covered. If it begins to dry out, slightly lift a corner of the plastic wrap and mist the soil with a spray bottle. Spray lightly to avoid disturbing the delicate seedlings.

Once the seedlings reach a centimeter in diameter, they can be hardened off. This is the process of slowly introducing them to dry air. This process is covered in our YouTube video HERE.

Download our free Germination Guide PDF HERE.

Watch our Germination Video HERE.


Pest Control

We will NEVER send you an infested cactus, but you may acquire a pest problem somewhere down the road. If you notice bugs on your cactus, it is best to remove them manually. Use a Q-Tip or small brush to kill or brush them off. You can also use a spray bottle to spray them off with water. Once bugs are spotted you may have to repeat this two or three times daily for a few days to kill any new bugs that may hatch from eggs.

If bugs are colonizing the soil, it is best to repot the cactus. Wash the roots well to remove all of the old soil, then repot the cactus into new soil. Toping your soil with a 1/4 inch layer of coarse sand or small stones will detour bugs from living in the soil.

Try to refrain from using soaps or insecticides as the cacti are very sensitive. If the problem is advanced you may have to use one. We suggest using Safer's Insecticidal Soap. You should apply the spray sparingly once a day for a few days until the problem is solved. The soap may mildly damage the cactus, but mites and other bugs can do much more damage if not treated. The cactus should spring back to good health in a short while. 

The best way to control bugs is to prevent them. Keep your cactus away from open windows and keep screens on any open windows in the house. Do not let people into your house that are known to have bug infestations in their home as they may act as a carrier. Do not go into a home that is known to have an infestation as you may bring pests home with you. Lastly, when bringing new houseplants or cacti home, keep them quarantined away from your cactus for a couple of weeks until you are positive that they do not contain bugs. 


Further Information

If you want to master the art of peyote cultivation, please consider taking our Peyote Cactus Cultivation Course. Click HERE to learn more!

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