Peyote Info

What are Peyote Cactus?

Peyote are a small, spineless, button shaped, flowering cactus that grow in Mexico and parts of the Southern United States. They are green to blueish green in color and have soft hairy tuffs instead of needles. They produce tiny flowers ranging in color from white, pink, and purple. The cactus that we ship are around six months old. Under proper conditions peyote usually flower around the 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.

Peyote cactus contain the psychoactive compound mescaline (a powerful hallucinogen). Indigenous peoples have used peyote for its hallucinogenic properties in religious ceremonies for thousands of years. Despite its psychoactive properties, peyote is legal to buy, sell, and cultivate in many countries including Canada. Although, the extraction of mescaline or consumption of mescaline containing cactus is illegal and not recommended by Sacred Buttons. Here are some tips on how to grow peyote cactus.   


Potting Instructions

When potting peyote 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 the roots from sitting in water that may pool in the bottom of the pot.

A 3 to 4 inch wide pot should be sufficient. Just make sure it is not a shallow pot. Peyote need a deep pot to accommodate their large vertical growing tap root. If the growth of this root is obstructed the cactus will become root bound and its growth will be stunted.

When it comes to soil, a high quality cactus mix will work fine. Although, a better option is to make your own by mixing 4 parts regular plant potting soil (that contains no nutrients and a high perlite content like Pro-Mix HP) with 1 part coarse sand, and 1 part sifted limestone screenings or pea gravel (limestone is preferred). These cacti grow in limestone rich areas. Adding it to the soil will keep it alkaline which the peyote will like. The sand must be coarse and not too fine and the limestone screening must be sifted to remove any powder. Fine sand or limestone powder will cause the soil to harden. Watch our video on making your own soil here. Soil designed specifically for growing sacred cactus can be purchased here on our website.

Hold the cactus in the pot and fill in around it with soil. Do not bend or curl the tap root. It must be planted pointing strait down or the growth of the cactus may be stunted. The soil should just cover the roots and not any part of the flesh of a peyote cactus. This will prevent damp soil from staying in contact with the cactus body and prevent rotting. San Pedro and Peruvian Torch have a thin section where it attaches to the roots. This section can be burred up to the thicker body of the cactus to help the cactus stand. Wait a few days before watering and use plain water (no fertilizer) for the first watering.

Repot your peyote cactus once a year. 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. Watch our peyote potting video here. A complete potting kit with everything you need to pot your new cactus can be purchased here


Care Instructions

Growing peyote is a fairly easy process. It does not take much light to grow peyote. In fact, too much light may actually burn them. They will be happy in a windowsill with indirect sunlight. As they get older they can handle more light. They will also do well 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 work best. We recommend Spider Farmer LED grow lights. They use the highest quality LEDs and driver for their price point. If your peyote cactus starts to turn reddish in colour it is receiving too much light. If it begins to grow tall and skinny instead of short and stout, it is not receiving enough light. Lights should be set to a cycle of 16 hours on and 8 hours off.

Water peyote cactus as soon as the soil dries completely. An underwatered peyote cactus will grow slower than a properly watered one but an overwatered one may rot and become sick. When your peyote needs water it will look thirsty (becoming wrinkly in appearance). Although, it is best not to let it get to this state. Water your peyote 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. Watch our watering peyote video here.

Keeping the temperature between 70F-90F (21C-32C) will help to grow peyote faster. Keep them away from drafty windows in the winter. Fertilizing on a regular schedule using a fertilizer designed for use with cacti will also help. We suggest using Shultz Liquid Cactus Fertilizer


Seed Germination 

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 little 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 tin 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 tin 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 the beneficial organisms. Once the soil is completely cooled it can be used and should be used as soon as possible.

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 we begin watering the cacti. The drainage holes will prevent water from pooling in the bottom if the container is overwatered. It is also a good idea to label the container with the type of seeds that you plan to germinate and the date. 

To sow the seeds, remove the tin foil from the bowl containing the pasteurized soil and spoon the soil into the germination container. Then cover any leftover soil back up with the tin foil. 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 you may sprinkle your seeds onto the surface. Do not bury the seeds. They 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 and the soil surface 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. If using a grow light, keep them far away (3 feet or more for florescent and 4 feet or more for powerful LED grow lights) as the little seedlings will be very sensitive to light. 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 colour. If they are red or orange in colour, 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. Set a timer for 16 hours on and 8 hours off. 

For best germination results, temperature should reach above 80F (26.5C) to a maximum 90F (32C) while the lights are on, and must dip down between 70F (21C) and 60F (15.5C) while the lights are off.  A heat mat with a thermostat designed for use with heat mats will help achieve this. 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.

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 peyote cactus it is best to kill them with your fingers. If your cactus is large and has many hard to reach crevasses, you can use a small brush to brush them off. You can also use a spray bottle with water to spray them off. Once bugs are spotted you may have to repeat this two or three times a day for a few days to kill any new bugs that may hatch from eggs.

If the bugs are colonizing the soil, the best action to take is to repot the cactus. Wash it well and remove all of the old soil from the roots. Then place the cactus into new soil. 

Try to refrain from using soaps and insecticides as the cactus 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 peyote 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 peyote for a couple of weeks until you are positive that they do not contain bugs. 

Toping your soil with a 1/4 inch layer of course sand will detour bugs and will also protect the underside of the cactus from rot.


Further Information

If you are interested in learning how to grow peyote more in depth, please consider taking our comprehensive online course. 

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