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Cactus growing instructions (as well as germination instruction for all seeds)

Here you'll find a wealth of info about growing Peyote Cactus and germinating all types of cactus seeds we sell. The majority of the info is related to growing Peyote and other exotic cactus indoors in Canada. All types of cactus seeds we sell can be germinated the same way as peyote to achieve great resuts.  

Peyote grow and flower with ease, producing fruit and seed even in your home. They are tough and very adaptable. They also transform in their appearance as they age- making rearing your own plants a rewarding experience indeed. Peyote are unique in that they do not have spines, making them very ‘touchable’ in your collection. Peyote and other members of the lophophora family may take from five to twenty years or more to become mature (seed bearing) in the wild, but can be grown to flowering stage in as little as eighteen months under optimal conditions. Here we will answer many of your growing and propagation questions such as:


What are ideal lighting conditions for peyote?

How much light to Peyote need?

Which grow lights should I use for my Peyote?

Which fertilizer should I use for my Peyote?

How often should I repot my peyote?

How often should I water my Peyote?

How to grow Peyote and other exotic cactus from seed?

How to propagate Peyote from cuttings?

Tips on growing healthy Peyote






     The ever changing physical characteristics of a Peyote Cactus make them fun to grow in your house. As Peyote grow they will transform significantly in appearance. These changes can be very rewarding and are often used as markers for success among growers. Wether enjoying the beauty of the flowers, counting ribs or admiring the size of the taproot, Peyote lends itself to a rewarding house plant to grow. Did I mention the palette of alkaloids that Produce?


    As Peyote grow they shift forms. Following the Fibonacci sequence, true Peyote begin life with five ribs, morph into eight ribbed cacti, and finally transform and live the rest of their lives as thirteen ribbed ‘Grandfather” Peyote. These rib additions are excellent milestones in peyote growing success over time and are a reward to the long-time peyote grower.

    Peyote flower quite easily with decent lighting conditions. Watching a gnarly looking Lophophora bring forth many beautiful white and pink pearlescent flowers is very enjoyable indeed. 

    As the Peyote age, and especially begin to flower, they shoot out little tufts of “wool” from the ariola. This “wool” is often a defining and sought after feature of large specimen Peyote. Lophophora Williamsii var. Texana brings forth an abundance of this ‘wool’. 

    Peyote generally have a blue/green colour. They will change colour slightly in response to environmental stimuli; for example, Peyote seedlings will turn red if they are exposed to intense lighting conditions. They will also darken in color a little at night as the stomata open in order to collect CO2. A note of interest is that peyote will take on a purple hue when exposed to extreme arid conditions over extended periods of time.


    You can’t help but notice that Lophophora Williamsii grows a large tuberous tap root. When researching (‘googling’) Peyote online, you will often find avid collectors posting photos and bragging about huge length and girth of their Peyote roots... Human nature is a funny thing isn’t it? 


    Rarely are there anomalies in the physical characteristics of Peyote, but when they are present, they are of great value to the collector. Examples of this type of anomaly among cacti are Cristata, Monstrose, “two-headed” and Variegated. On the rare occasion when a Cactus has a mutation or is non-typical, it is often grafted onto other rootstock to maintain survivability and boost growth rate. Peyote with these mutations are often bought and sold at a premium as they are of great value to collectors. Some say these anomalies are one in a thousand, I tend to agree.  



What are ideal lighting conditions for Peyote?


    There are important factors that determine the healthy growth or eventual demise of your Peyote. The main cause of their demise from the indoor gardener is from overwatering/over feeding. Overwatering will kill your Peyote. I repeat, overwatering WILL KILL your peyote. The #1 cause of a peyote’s demise is “loving them to death”. Your peyote will adapt to less than ideal lighting, poor soil, and marginal temperatures but will NOT adapt to being overwatered. Should you want to strive for optimal growth rate- a few considerations must be made for your little cacti. Lighting, feeding, soil composition, and temperature are the four cornerstones of good growth Peyote. See the Grafting Peyote page if you wish to see your growth rate increase exponentially.  



How much light do Peyote need?

 Ideally Peyote enjoy bright indirect sunlight. They will however adapt to most any lighting condition, but the growth rate will not be optimal. Placed inside of a window that allows full of sun is ideal in Canada, and especially in the summer. You will not likely have to supplement any light as long as the plants receive at least four hours of quality sunlight per day. Note that window glass will generally provide an ideal amount of diffused light for Lophophora Williamsii and no shade cloth will be required to protect your ‘Lophs’.  A south facing patio door that allows a substantial amount of light is just about perfect. If your windows are north facing or do no receive adequate light, you may wish to supplement your Peyote with artificial light in order to maintain optimal growth. Be careful of placing your Peyote between the window glass and your blinds in the winter- you will create a cold pocket which will either freeze or send your lovely peyote into dormancy. Should you wish to supplement you Peyote with artificial light, there are a few considerations you may wish to take into account. All types of grow lights will encourage your Peyote to grow and there are benefits to each type of lighting; Fluorescent, High pressure sodium (HPS), Metal Halide (MH), and Light Emitting Diode (LED). Plasma induction lamps look promising for growing Peyote, however I have never used them. 





Which grow lights should I use for my Peyote?

Peyote prefer bright indirect sunlight. A south facing window is ideal and your peyote will grow very well in these conditions. In my experience Peyote cacti will look better and will be more resilient to adversity when grown under the sun rather than grow lights.  However, many collectors employ supplemental grow lights for their cacti (especially in winter) to aid in growth rates or if they do not have a suitable location to grow their plants. Peyote are very adaptable and will respond favorably to any type of horticultural lighting. I find the best method is to keep it simple. 



  • Fluorescent grow lights for peyote: Peyote enjoy the cool/blue spectrum of light from fluorescents. There are different types of fluorescent grow lights, from the old school T-12‘s and T-8‘s to the newer T5, T5Ho and Compact Fluorescent bulbs. Any of them will work. Because Peyote are a short, globular cactus, fluorescent tubes may be placed fairly close to the plants providing them efficient and even lighting. The tube fluorescent lights are inexpensive, efficient and are very easy to set up. Peyote do not require as much light intensity as many other Cacti, and any fluorescent light will produce good results if placed at about the right height. For the beginner grower, a cheap and efficient way to grow peyote is under a small table lamp with a cheap compact flourescent bulb. These bulbs can be bought from any hardware store. For growing Peyote indoors fluorescent tubes will provide you the best value and very little maintenance is required. I would begin with tubes at 12-14” above the plants and work my down. With sensitive seedlings, fluorescent lighting is perfect. If your tender seedlings begin to turn red, a piece of white paper may be placed over the seedlings to diffuse the light. Fluorescent tubes are ideal for the beginner/novice grower.


  • High Pressure Sodium/ HPS grow lights for Peyote: The mother of all grow lights. HPS lights are the most common light used in commercial greenhouses around the world. HPS lights are relatively inexpensive, easy to find, high maintenance, finicky, require venting, require temperature control, provide a huge amount of lumens per watt, use up large quantities of electricity, need bulky ballasts, run as hot as the fires of hell and do a kick-ass job at growing Peyote. Here we have the classic metaphorical case of ‘Muscle Car vs. Rice Rocket’ between HPS and modern high efficiency grow lights. The choice is yours.


  • Metal Halide/ MH grow lights for Peyote. For Peyote growing purposes, MH and HPS are very similar. There is much debate between HPS and MH and which of the two High Intensity Discharge lamps are best for growing cactus. The benefit of MH is that it will provide an ideal spectrum for Peyote and you will have happy, healthy and beautiful Peyote. The downside is that MH are not very efficient when compared with other modern grow lights. Either MH or HPS will work wonderfully for Peyote or any cactus, just keep the lights far enough away from the plants until they have reached a significant size.


  • LED grow lights for Peyote: Efficient and low maintenance. Modern LED’s are taylor made to suit the required spectrums of plant growth and fruit production, with little wattage wasted on unusable light for your plants. Just make sure you get the 3watt + chips. The downside of LED’s is first and foremost the initial cost of the grow lights. Because of the amount of research and development that is required to produce high quality LED’s, the cost is significantly higher in comparison to older grow light technologies. Secondly, there is a mighty ocean of LED “grow lights” on the market and knowing which to choose may require a large amount of research on your part. Nearly all LED grow lights are made in china (or at least the components), they are all marketed as the best thing next to sliced bread. Purchasing the right LED grow light will either take an understanding of light spectrums, LED chipsets, and respective cooling systems, or spending a lot of your hard earned money buying and LED grow light from a company that has done the research for you. In truth, many of the LED lights found online aren’t worth the raw materials it takes to make them. That being said, when you find a good quality LED grow light and willing to foot the bill, they are user friendly and efficient. 




Which Fertilizer should I use on my Peyote?

     Fertilizer for Peyote: Feeding Peyote is not a complicated task. Peyote and most other cacti are adapted to grow in poor soil conditions. As long as the soil has excellent drainage, a small amount of nutrients and adequate calcium, Peyote will enjoy growing in it. A Cactus specific fertilizer at half  or a quarter strength every feeding will help your Peyote grow. A fertilizer with low nitrogen is recommended to keep your Peyote healthy. Too much nitrogen in your fertilizer will leave you with a host of problems. Find a fertilizer with low nitrogen (ie. 2-7-7), and use it at half the recommended strength to keep your Peyote growing well. In regards to soil, a simple off-the-shelf Cactus soil mixed with 50% perlite in addition to fertilizer will keep your Peyote in excellent health. 


    How often should I repot my Peyote? 

Peyote absolutely love to be root bound and love to be very closely grown to one another. Repot only when you see a decline in growth or when the peyote’s tap root no longer fits in the pot. Growers often repot once a year to replenish the soil’s nutrients, but do not often upsize the pots. My personal rule of thumb is that my peyote when they are squeezing against each other too tightly. It may be of note that some cacti growers will plant all Lophophora species very closely to together as they will have better growth when root bound and very close to one another. Deep and narrow pots lend themselves well to growing Peyote to accomodate the large taproot as well as improved drainage. 




    How often should I water my Peyote?

Peyote come from the desert- they are accustomed to dry conditions. ONLY WATER ONCE THE SOIL HAS DRIED OUT COMPLETELY. How often you water is completely dependent on your soil and your plant’s growth. If your soil is mineral based, has superb drainage and your plant is growing quickly you may be able to water once a week or more. If your Peyote is growing in a shady location with clay/high humus soil that retains a lot of moisture, you may not want to water them more than once every six weeks. Either way, Peyote will grow far better with too little water than too much. This tidbit of information is contrary to houseplant logic, but the vast majority of Cacti are more than capable of thriving in extremely dry conditions.  Peyote can and do store water for later use. A Peyote indoors will only store as much water as they can hold. At this point the excess water is useless and if left too long will in turn cause rot. Peyote use their amazing ability to store water and grow profusely long after it’s soil has completely dried out. 

      Peyote go dormant during the winter months, and I would suggest you water very sparingly or just a few times in the winter season. Some collectors only water 2-3 times during the seasonal dormancy period. Peyote in the wild esily survive 3-4 months of drought without need for water. Let your plants be the judge of when they need water, but as a rule of thumb, once every 2-3 weeks during the growing season and once every 4-6 weeks in the winter. This will keep your plants in great condition. If there is one thing that I would pass on to you, it’s that too much water for your Peyote Cactus is detrimental. DO NOT water the plants until the soil has dried out completely- and be especially careful with the Caespitosa variant



How to grow Peyote and other exotic cactus from seed?


This growing method is based on growing peyote and all types of seeds we sell indoors in Canada. 


Germinating and growing plants from seed is simple. There are many methods of growing Lophophora species, but here I will list the method I prefer.



  1. Acquire good quality seed. Fresh is best in this case. Lophophora seeds do in fact have a short lifespan. Seed that is few years may grow but likely have a low germination rate. I'll throw in a plug that our seeds are harvested fresh from our very own plants. 
  2. Purchase seedling soil from any nursery, garden centre or hardware store. I would opt for the more expensive brands as they will be better suited to small seedling growth and be much easier to work with. Sterilized seedling soil is an advantage but not a necessity. You can easily sterilize your soil at home. 
  3. You may use a 1020 tray with a clear lid, small pots in ziplock bags, tupperware, or clear plastic container- no matter your choice, the goal is to create an environment with close to 100% humidity and good drainage. High humidity is necessary, but you don’t want the seedlings swimming in water. Make sure whatever pots you use have holes in the bottom. The best germination rates I have achieved have been with regular old small plastic pots of soil placed in a ziplock bag. 
  4. Time to sterilize the soil. Use boiling water from a kettle and pour onto the soil until completely saturated. Another option is to bake the soil until the internal temperature is over 100 degrees C. Pouring boiling water and waiting an hour will be faster with large amounts of soil than baking in the oven. I’ve heard the microwave works to sterilize soil as well, but have never tried this method. I would venture a guess that a microwave will work well as long as there are no conductive particles in the soil... After pouring boiling water into the soil, let soil drain and cool for at least and hour before planting seedlings. Sterilization is very important. Fungi, insect eggs and other pests live everywhere. I would suggest you give your seeds the best start possible. Once pests have entered your soil, they can be a nightmare to erradicate. 
  5. Place seeds evenly across the top of soil. Do not bury the seeds- they need light to germinate unlike many common plants. Press down the seeds with the bottom of a spoon. This pressing is to ensure good contact with the soil so the humidity from the soil will wick into the seed. Place a clear lid on your tray or seal the small pots into a ziplock bag to provide an exceptionally humid environment while still allowing light to enter the container.
  6. Temperature. A very important and often overlooked step in germinating Peyote seeds is temperature. In it’s natural habitat, daytime and nighttime temperatures will fluctuate a significant amount. Find a way to keep the seeds cool at night and let them warm up during the day. Ideally 22-30 degrees Celsius during the day is ideal and a drop from 8-18 degrees Celsius at night is adequate. If seeds get too hot or too cold, this will hinder your germination rate. Placing the seeds in front of a window that is slightly open in the spring will easily provide the temperature swings necessary to unlock seedling growth. Without the swings in temperature, your seeds will germinate, but may not achieve optimal germination rates. 
  7. Any type of fluorescent light places close to the seeds will aid in germination. Peyote seeds can certainly be germinated in front of a window indoors as well. If you choose natural light, be sure to place shade cloth over the bags or white paper over the lid of the tray as the seedlings will get scorched quite easily if you do not. Peyote seedlings are quite tender when starting out into the big big world. If they are bright green in colour, they are growing well. If the majority of the seedlings are turning red or dark orange this means the light source is too close or too strong, or that the humidity is too low. If a bit of algae or moss occurs, it’s perfectly normal in a humid environment. Your little ones will be fine, in fact I find that the moss helps to hold water and welcome it with my seedlings.
  8. Slowly acclimatize the seedlings to the outside world. After eight to ten weeks in the humidity chamber, begin by either poking small holes in the ziplock or tilting the lid of the tray a little bit more every few days. The process should take a few weeks or more to acclimatize your seedlings. When you begin acclimatizing you will need to begin adding water to your plants. At this point, a diluted fertilizer may be used to encourage growth. Do not use full strength fertilizer. Stay away from high nitrogen fertilizer (a 2-7-7 or so fertilizer is about perfect). Any seedling fertilizer or cactus fertilizer will do if diluted 50%. Once the peyote acclimatize, begin watering on a regular schedule.
  9. Enjoy watching them grow and take shape and enjoy your new rare and unique Cactus!


How to Propagate peyote from cuttings?


This technique does not add to the strength of the species as there is no new gene pool added in reproduction. However, if you receive a cutting or if you are intrigued by a certain trait of a particular plant and wish to see more of this trait, the cutting will be genetically identical to the parent plant. You are essentially creating an identical Peyote “clone”.


  1. Take cutting from existing plant. Slide a sharp knife into a crease of the cactus between the parent and the new offshoot/button. Avoid cutting into the epidermis of the offshoot or the parent plant- just cut the union between the two. If cutting from a ‘pup’ from the main stem (Lophophora williamsii var. Caespitosa), cut flush to the root of the parent plant. Dust all wounds in the cutting and parent plant with sulfur powder to prevent rot. Be sure to remove the soil near the wound of the parent plant as a fresh wound is vulnerable to rot. Cactus need dry airflow to heal and callus otherwise they will rot. Placing the fresh cut peyote or cutting under a fan or below an open window will aid in the healing process.
  2. The cutting and the parent will need time to callus. One to three weeks to heal is generally enough time in a non-humid environment. Your cuttings will wrinkle a bit during the callousing but this is to be expected. Do not place the Peyote cutting in direct light; a bit of shade during the callusing process is beneficial. A dinner plate in the shade works well.
  3. Once callused, place ‘buttons’ on top of dry soil or bury the ‘pups’ stem in dry soil. Mist every couple of days. In a week to a month’s time, your button will grow a small amount of new roots. Do not move or jostle your cuttings. Mist every couple of days until new root growth has been achieved. Always let soil dry out between misting. Soon you will notice your plants ‘plumping up’. Do keep the green (chlorophyl producing) section of the Peyote above the soil. Set cuttings on top of the soil. The point where the crown connects to the stem is the most vulnerable portion of your Peyote plant to rot. 
  4. Once your cutting has formed a few healthy roots, they will begin ‘plumping up’. As this point you may begin a regular sparse watering schedule and your little Peyotes will be less prone to rot. 


*Note that if any spots of red/rust coloration or a white/brown wound forming on the crown, root or stem of the cutting, you are over-watering. Stop Watering immediately.  Restart the process from step 2. 




Tips on growing healthy Peyote


- Always, always, always let soil dry out completely between waterings. Rot moves very quickly and it’s often too late once it sets in. 

- Peyote prefer to be grown in tight quarters with each other and/or be root-bound.

  • Alkaline soil is preferred to acidic soil. The natural habitat of peyote contains a large amount of limestone and they respond well to a higher PH in the soil.
  • Do not use high nitrogen fertilizer. Your plants may grow quickly for a time but will become susceptible to splitting, hollowing out, disease and winter hardships. Half strength liquid fertilizer in a 2-7-7 works well.
  • When using grow lights, do not use more than 16 hours of light per day. Because Peyote use crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), they naturally desire the darkness of night to open their stomata and absorb the C02 required for the next day’s growth. Though you may not notice any change in your Peyote at night (except for a slight color variation), they are busy producing their alkaloids, absorbing CO2, and getting prepared for the next day’s photosynthesis. The growth rate of Peyote only increases marginally under a 24 hour light cycle vs. a 16/8 light cycle. It is uneconomical to place Peyote under a 24 hour light cycle as the growth rate increase during the extra 8 hours will be roughly 5-8%, however your power consumption will be 34% more than a 16/8 schedule