Growing San Pedro

Nan's Nook : Archives : Botanicals : Cactus : San Pedro : Growing San Pedro
  Subtopic Posts Updated Creator
Planting My Pedro's 30 5/03 Fungusmaximus
Rooting San Pedro Cuttings ? 7/03  
Cactus Soil Compositions  ? 7/03 Admin
Watering Frequency for Pedro ? 6/03  
Liming & pH 3 7/03 Nan
Flowers? 5 6/03 reshroomED
Folar Feeding 7   ion
Hydroponic Cactus Culture? 7 6/03 shrum
Wounded/Sick Cacti 9 6/03 DirtyWop
San Pedro Grow Guide 9 8/03 Fungusmaximus
Trichocereus Growing Guide 1 8/03 Archaea
Closet cactus care  1 ???????? Admin

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Monday, August 27, 2001 - 01:00 am:

Rooting and growing cactus cuttings: By Nanook

You will need a 4-6” clay pot and the soil mix detailed below for the best results. It really is worthwhile to mix up your own batch of specialized cactus soil. I have been experimenting with cacti soil mixes for years and this is what I have found works best for this specie, and many, if not most, other species as well. I have studied the soil types of many different cacti in their native range… And I can locate wild specimens by locating the correct soil type. This is a good potting mix:

One part commercial bagged topsoil.
One part commercial bagged cow manure, compost/manure, or compost
One part crushed limestone “3/8 inch minus grade” (This bagged limestone, available from large nurseries and landscape companies, is the finest screening from a rock crusher. It contains limestone particles ranging in size from sand to pebbles that fit through a 3/8 inch screen.)
1 cup or so of powdered or pelleted limestone (or Dolomite, you want lots of Magnesium in cactus culture) per 6' pot.
Peter's Professional All-Purpose Plant food (hardware or garden center)

You can substitute crushed oyster shell or crushed cuttlebone (pet or feed store) or finely crushed marble for the minus grade limestone. I just call around and pick up a bag of the crushed stone for about $3.00.

The problem with commercial bagged cactus potting soil is that most of it contains mostly peat moss. Peat moss reacts with fertilizer (and mushroom suppliments) to produce an acid pH. Acid soil encourages rot, and Pedro will not take up primary nutrients: you get a weaker plant in addition to increased chances of rot… Some commercial cactus soils are pretty good, but how do you know? They all need some pH adjustment and stabilization, and getting the right pH after a few heavy soakings with strong fertilizer solution can be tricky… So I recommend a peatless mix, and the recipe above contains stone chips that provide good drainage in addition to long term pH stability. The mix will grow cactus in the same pot for years and years with just an occasional light liming in the summer when using strong feed.

Mix the ingredients and break up any lumps, you want the soil to have lumps no larger than your rock chips. If you are rooting a bud or small stalk, fill the pot to within 1-1/2 inches to the top, packing the soil down tightly with your fist while filling. Center your bud or cutting and pack soil mix around it to within ½ inch of the top of the pot. You want about 1 to 1-1/2 inches of the cutting in the soil, just enough to hold it stable. Make sure to pack the mix tight. Then soak the pot slowly and thoroughly with plain water. You can set the pot in a bucket and fill with water to the pot rim, let soak 15 min, remove & let drain.

With specimens that are already rooted (usually shipped “bare root”), it helps to have one person hold the cactus with the roots hanging in the pot, fill with crumbled soil mix and gently tamp, taking care not to clump the roots up together. Fill the pot up with soil to the yellow line on the cacti base. Soak the potted cacti in 2-1/2 tablespoons Peter's per five gallons of water.

Place the pot in full direct sun if possible, the more light the better. For fastest rooting and healthiest plants it helps to dig a hole in the ground in a sunny location and sink the pot in up to the lip. This provides some temperature and humidity stabilization that helps rooting and encourages much healthier growth. They neglect better and you will water less as well.

During the growing season water the pots whenever it feels dry when you press your finger into the soil surface. Rooting should occur quickly when the cactus stalks are set up in full sun, the pots are sunk into the ground, and the soil mix is kept cool and damp (not wet). Usually 2-3 weeks. Usually new growth on the tips indicate roots have begun to set. When the growth resumes, begin feeding:

2-1/2 Tablespoons of Peter's Professional All-Purpose plant food per 5 gallons of water for starts. This is a 20-20-20 fertilizer with chelated trace elements: Trace elements are essential for good color, growth and potency in cacti… “Blue” Pedro is grown by maintaining the proper levels of: sun, feed (nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus & trace), pH and water... Lots of water. In summer, when mixing feed for fully rooted and growing Pedro's, try to add some pure urea to your feed. For peak summer growing I feed with a mixture of 2 tablespoons Peter's (above) and 3 tablespoons of Urea (46-0-0) in five gallons of water. Don't let the pots go completely dry during the growing season if you can avoid it. Outdoors in many areas summer feed is supplemented with rainwater, if not give the plants a break from feed about every second or third watering… Plain water, or weak lime water once in awhile rinses out accumulating salts. Rinse the pots well with a hose or rainwater ad-lib, but keep feeding… And lime with a few tablespoons of powdered rock per pot every few months if you are feeding heavy. A word to the wise: don't feed any heavier or you will burn the roots and don't let the pots dry out and get hot in full sun if you feed heavy. Roots like it rich, cool, and moist.

When using the Urea formula above, add a tablespoon or two of powdered limestone or dolomite to each pot every two-three months to maintain a "sweet" soil chemistry. Soured pots will still grow, but the color and potency of the cactus is second rate, and it will not grow as fast. The lowest the pH should get is 6.8, any lower and Pedro will start to grow out pale yellow. Hit sickly or yellowed plants with: lime, hardwood ashes, sunlight and fertilizer... They will improve.

I water my cacti out of a five gallon bucket I keep filled in the back yard. The water has a chance to sit 24 hours at air temperature, I mix in fertilizer, and dip it out with a small pot. Using this water in combination with sunken pots works just great. The roots are never shocked and nutrient/water uptake is both rapid and constant. Pedro will grow like a weed once the root systems are established. The grow method detailed here is simply the bestest… This grow tek provides an ideal environment for Pedro roots: proper drainage, gas exchange, water uptake, nutrient uptake, pH control… When soaked with feed, sunken pots will fill and hold water long enough to completely soak the soil mix, thereby retaining the maximum amount of moisture. When the feed solution drains off by seepage a complete gas exchange takes place within the pot. Pots never need to dry out under these conditions, especially since there is pH control with the crushed limestone rock. This environment produces a thick, fat, knotted rooted system… It looks just like a fully colonized jar of mushroom mycellia when a healthy cactus is pulled from a pot.

In the early spring and early fall, Pedro grown outdoors should be switched to rooting feed: 2-1/2 tablespoons Peter's in five gallons. One month before the first frost: rinse the pots well with 2-3 fillings of plain water, then stop watering and fertilizing altogether. You are done for the season, rainwater will usually be more than enough to keep plants hydrated during the late fall in many parts. Bring dormant plants indoors just before the first frost.

It is not unusual to bring dirty, cold, soaking wet pots inside, so be forewarned. Let the pots winter indoors in a cool bright location. There is no need in most cases to water during the winter dormant period (unless your plants were not well hydrated when you brought them in), water can be resumed indoors around Feb 15th, but unless there is plenty of light it is usually best to wait until after the last frost and move them outdoors before watering. Lack of light causes skinny weak growth. This cacti really needs bright light to grow exceedingly well. Short day lengths, cool temperatures, and lack of water during the late fall, winter, and early spring will cause the cacti to go dormant. Increasing day length, and water, starts them growing again the next spring.

Pots tend to go a little acid when plants are wintering dormant. You can take advantage of this acid condition in the early spring with a “post dormancy” treatment for the first spring watering: 1 rounded teaspoon S.T.E.M. (Soluble Trace Element Mix, available from nursery supply companies) and 2-1/2 level tablespoons Epsom salt in 5 gallons of water. Soak pots with this solution; let them sit in the cool early spring weather, good sun, for 7-10 days. STEM and Epsom salt creates a temporary low pH condition (below 6.8) where trace elements will absorb rapidly. You will see thin dark blue (almost black sometimes) streaks moving up the creases in the stalk as the trace elements hits the chloroplasts. Cacti are typically heavy trace element feeders.

Once absorbed, soak the pots down well with the following feed: 1-quart hardwood ashes (sifted barbeque ashes are fine), 2-1/2 tablespoons Peter's, and one cup powdered limestone or dolomite swirled in a five gallon bucket. This feed will raise the pH back up, where Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are absorbed readily by the root systems. Trace elements are still available at a higher pH when using Peter's because the elements are chelated. Chelated nutrients are compounded in order to make them available to plant roots over a wide range of pH conditions, and it works, but a strong shot of trace elements in early spring, first thing, will establish reserves that are available for the early summer growth spurt. You get bluer cacti when you dose with trace elements

See the Cactus Links Page for Suppliers of San Pedro

Nanook's Cactus Syrup Tek : Shroom Glossary

Posted by: Nanook Jun 30 03, 07:58 PM GMT

Nan's Soil Mix

user posted image

I am mixing one part from each bag. The first bag on the left is a "3/8" Minus" grade of crushed limestone for about $3.00. The center bag is generic bagged topsoil for about $2.50 The bag on the right is cow compost/manure for about $3.00. The basic formula is one part of each. I use one bag of each, you can add a little more crushed limestone (the landscape rock has slightly less volume than the manure or topsoil per bag). I just mix one bag of each and throw in 4-6 cups of powdered limestone or dolomite rock per batch. Mix well and break up lumps with a shovel or trowel.

The correct limestone gravel can be a little hard to find, and is by far the best for this purpose. I checked at the national chain hardware stores and did not find what I thought was a small enough grade of rock, they have crushed limestone and crushed marble in like a 1 inch size, that's too large. I went to a landscape supplier and found the right stuff cheap

Posted by: Nanook Jan 03 03, 02:42 PM GMT

Starter Plant - Beginners Garden

Do you cut or do you cook?

Let's say you get a starter plant. It's like an investment in the bank earning compound interest, if you do not touch the account, wait, after a few years you can live off the interest and never have to spend the principal. That is the goal.

Now, with that said... You can cut. Just don't cook. I think what I would do would be to cut your taller stalks in half. Then root the tops... Giving you more plants starting. It will make your cactus look hacked, but the pruning will stimulate new bud growth. New buds will come out from each of the cut stalks on the mother plant as soon as the plant comes out of dormancy in spring (summer, even early fall). And if you make the cuts now, and there is no shock (because they are dormant - Look at the timestamp).

This will increase the number of plants. It will increase the number of pots and root systems which are the base of a Pedro garden. Next fall, the mother plant will have nice new big fat buds and you can either let them grow to harvestable size, or cut the new growth off at the base and root new plants to expand the garden base.

Anytime you harvest column cacti, save as big a tip cut (up to 18 inches) as you can and root those tips to start new pots... Or gift them if you already have the maximum number of pots you can manage.

The first couple of years getting a Pedro garden established are the most important. You want to get some pots of roots with 18 inch tall plants going. That's what the big tall columns shoot up from. When I first started getting my Pedro gardens going, I placed an order for tip cuttings every spring for the first couple of years until I got my number of rooted pots up. If you can spend money, the sooner the better, try some, grow the rest

10 six to eight inch pots are all that's needed to produce several good solid mescaline trips a year. The buds produced each season will start a entire new garden base... every year. Every pruned stalk will start a nice new plant. But you have to get a few pots established and going to reach "critical mass" and I find that's about 10 pots worth.

Posted by: DirtyWOP Jan 03 03, 02:52 PM GMT
New buds will come out from each of the cut stalks on the mother plant as soon as the plant comes out of dormancy this spring. And if you make the cuts now, and there is no shock (because they are dormant).

so does that mean cuts should be taken before they start to grow again? I thought it was the other way......

Posted by: Nanook Jan 03 03, 03:25 PM GMT
Your plant is not quite out of dormancy. Make cuts now, or wait 2-3 weeks is not going to make much difference. As soon as the day lengths increase, cuttings will root up fine. Indoors in bright natural light cuttings can be started to root Feb 15, and will be ready to move out after the last frost of spring.

Cutting at a slight angle prevents water from pooling in the cut once it drys and recesses.

Posted by: DirtyWOP Jan 08 03, 06:39 PM GMT
thanks nan
I guess I'll slice tommorow and root feb. 15...
or maybe not....
how long till they are scabbed sufficiently?

I bought a new 3 in. paring knife.....will that be good?
OR should I use a knife with some teeth?

Posted by: Nanook Jan 08 03, 09:48 PM GMT
They scab sufficiently to put in soil in 3-5 days as long as the soil does not remain saturated. I would:

Cut now. Wait 5 days for the cuttings to scab. Pot them. Water the pots moderately once. Start water and rooting strength fert come Feb 15.

Use a clean smooth knife. Serrated blades leave ragged wounds.

Posted by: Plants Feb 01 03, 02:05 PM GMT

When you have cuttings - rooted or yet to be rooted, cut off the tip, make it about 10cm.
Then wait for the cut end to callous before rooting it (the tip and the cutting).

When you make any cuts, always rub the cut end with sand, this helps to seal the wound.

And don't worry about cutting at an angle, make it a straight cut.

Once it has calloused, new pups will form.

A while ago I recently rooted a number of cuttings, so I cut off all the tips.
Planted the tips in pots.
And where there were tips, there are now many new pups sprouting.

And if you have 1meter cuttings, cut them into 3x1ft sections, plus a tip.
This is good for expanding your collection exponentially.

Happy growing.

Posted by: plinkerdink420 Nov 24 02, 12:29 PM GMT
i've called every gardening place i can think of within 20 miles of here and cannot find lime in any form, or dolomite... can i use calcium carbonate in the same way?... is there any way around it?... i almost just broke down and bought the cactus and succulent mix they had at frank's, but remember the warning about it being too high in peat.... i don't mean to be a pest, but i don't like to do anything unless i know that it's not gonna screw things up

Posted by: Nanook Nov 24 02, 01:42 PM GMT
You are really out of season for this... Did you try a landscaper?

This grade of crushed limestone is frequently used as fill for driveways and patios... I see it dumped or spilled out all the time where there is road construction. Sometimes the grade used a little coarser, but if you pick out the larger stones and scoop the small stuff up... You should be good to go.

You can go without. In that case, add about 1 part sand (for drainage). Calcium carbonate is your powdered lime, not the crushed stone. You can top dress your pots with a little extra calcium carbonate on a regular basis to keep them sweet if you don't mix in crushed stone smile.gif

Posted by: c23 Nov 24 02, 05:51 PM GMT
did you try a hardware store in the cement section? that is where i got mine, but i had to buy a BIG bag ( lifetime supply - haha ).


Posted by: plinkerdink420 Nov 25 02, 12:47 PM GMT
no, actually i didn't try the hardware store... i could try that... also, i got alot of friends who work construction... i didn't even think of that possibility... thanks guys

Posted by: czen Nov 25 02, 03:30 PM GMT
You can also get lime at a feed store or farmer's supply if you live in an agricultural locale.


Posted by: plinkerdink420 Nov 26 02, 10:45 AM GMT
i don't live too close to anything agricultural, but my family does, and i will be going out there for thanksgiving this week... maybe i'll just have my sister pick me up some.... hell yeah... thanks czen!

Posted by: dlagwagon Dec 28 02, 04:48 PM GMT
is it necessary to soak the roots in something before potting? I kinda winged it and have fafard cactus soil mixed with vermiculite, crushed oyster shells and a bit of bat guano. think this will manage? For fertilizer I have fox farm grow big 12-7-7 is this ok?


Posted by: dlagwagon Dec 28 02, 05:12 PM GMT
here is a picture of the beauty nan sent!!! I didn't even expect anything and I just got this huge package in the mail!!!! thanks sooo much again! Alright well I mixed up the ingredients I said and then covered the top with lava rock as it was still having trouble supporting itself!! Should I water it now or what, fertilize with foxfarm?

thanks again,

and I now have a new companion!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: dlagwagon Dec 28 02, 05:16 PM GMT
I plan on just putting it under the windowsill for light will this work? If not I have a 100 watt HPS but would have to get rid of the mj to make space for the cacti. Is just sitting in the window ok? thanks again and sorry for so many questions but this just completely caught me off guard. I had no idea I had a cacti coming my way but am damn happy I entered that photo essay contest now!!! Please help with the questions when you get a chance. thanks a lot

Posted by: Nanook Dec 28 02, 05:41 PM GMT

is it necessary to soak the roots in something before potting?

Soak it with plain water after planting.

I kinda winged it and have fafard cactus soil mixed with vermiculite, crushed oyster shells and a bit of bat guano. think this will manage?

It's not ideal, but it can be made to work wink.gif

For fertilizer I have fox farm grow big 12-7-7 is this ok?

It won't need fertilizer until spring. That cactus, all the cactus I have shipped in the last month, is dormant. Not growing. They will remain dormant until the day lengths increase, indoors where you are... Around Feb 15th.

I plan on just putting it under the windowsill for light will this work?

Pefect, then after the last frost, usually in April sometime in the mid latitude states, move it outdoor and begin watering and feeding.

Have fun smile.gif Enjoy wub.gif


Posted by: dlagwagon Dec 29 02, 03:36 PM GMT
I gave it about 1/4 gallon of bottled water, this ok? I just keep walking in and staring at the beauty, thanks sooo much again!!!

Posted by: Nanook Dec 29 02, 03:41 PM GMT
Yup, then leave it be for a few weeks... Until Mid-Feb, then you can soak it down again.

Posted by: Morgan Jan 19 03, 09:21 PM GMT
I recently ordered some pachanoi and got a pretty measly 6" cutting which looked extremely de-hydrated & I thought it was pretty much dead when it arrived. It arrived just as the silly season was beginning & I procrastinated potting it for about another 2 weeks which probably didn't help.

So anyway it was planted about a week ago in store-bought cactus mix & topped with a fair layer of lime, watered twice since then which I realise was too often, but I kept feeling sorry for it as it looked so thirsty.

It's currently summer over here (Summer here is Dec, Jan, Feb but lately the hot weather continues for quite a while longer).

In the 1 week it's been planted & left outside I can see it's starting to fatten up but I've got a few questions:

1. The cutting was a mid-section and is about 2 inches thick, however at the top it looks shrivelled and the last inch at the top is only 1 inch thick and bends sharply. What should I do with this? Cut it back to where it's thick?

2. There seems to be a small black growth only about .5cmx2.5cm. I might borrow a digital camera and post pics as it's hard to explain. It doesn't look very nice, should I do something about it?

3. We get pretty cold in winter in my part of Australia & even if I take it inside it can get to about 10 degrees inside. I seem to remember reading something about San Pedro not liking the cold. Do I take it inside? Is this enough?

Any help/suggestions would be appreciated.



Posted by: Nanook Jan 19 03, 10:48 PM GMT
1) I would leave well enough alone. If you need to cut it or do anything, wait until it has fully rooted before shocking it.

2) You should perform minor surgery and remove all discolored growths, opening up black spots so they can air and drain if required. Rot can travel sub-cutaneous, best to remove the skin over black spots and remove discolored tissue with a clean sharp knife. Sometimes they are simply blisters which dry up and turn brown... Still best to open them up gently.

3) Dormant Pedro (dormancy occurs naturally from short day length and falling temperatures) do quite well at temps around the freezing mark. They do fine at 32*F - 0*C for extended periods and will handily survive dips much colder for a few hours without damage. They are pretty hardy when allowed to acclimate naturally.

Posted by: DirtyWOP Jan 23 03, 02:56 PM GMT
hey nan.....
my cactus has a few very tiny orange bumps in clusters in two places....
it hasn't gotten bad at all yet, but what should I do?
Is it a bug?
They are on one of the stalk bases and the bud I cut off, which is sitting in the windowsill unrooted, above the mother cactus....

also, how "scabbed" should it be when I place it in the soil?
should I wait until february, or pot now?
Out of each open wound there is little tendrils shooting out, around the core of the cactus stalk, is that normal? Are they roots?

thanks, sorry to interupt yer thread buddy

Posted by: Nanook Jan 23 03, 06:20 PM GMT
my cactus has a few very tiny orange bumps in clusters in two places.... it hasn't gotten bad at all yet, but what should I do?

Minor blemishes are not uncommon. I ignore them unless the darken black and/or spread. Even sunburn is superficial.

Scabbing takes just a few days really. People have told me to wait 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 6 weeks... In truth when the cut dries and the scab feels like waxed paper, dry and smooth, go ahead and pot it up.

You don't need much water. I would water once throughly when it is potted up, and then wait until you see the tips crack open with new growth before regular water/feedings.

Those "tendrils" may simple be fiber from the core that does not shrink and retract when the tissue drys after being cut.

Sooo ignore minor blemishes, pot them up so they can get used to being in soil and can start with roots as soon as they come out of dormancy in a few weeks.

Posted by: DirtyWOP Jan 23 03, 08:52 PM GMT

Posted by: reshroomED Feb 11 03, 05:22 AM GMT
Don't worry about the cold. I live in Colac, VIC and all my cactii are in the ground outside and still grow at an almost scary rate.

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