Peyote (Lophophora) is a slow growing Cacti with hallucinogenic properties. Peyote has been used for over 5000 years by the indigenous peoples of the Americas for ceremonial and healing purposes. The peyote cactus is extremely slow growing and lives for hundreds of years in nature. The peyote cactus grows to a maximum of 15cm wide and about 7-8cm in height. Sometimes they form large multi-headed clumps up to a meter or more in width.
Although peyote is very slow growing in nature, (a peyote the size of a quarter may be decades old) in a controlled environment the growth process can be greatly enhanced.
Growing from Seed
Peyote will come readily, but slowly from seed, growing only about 1cm in diameter in their first year. To start your own peyote from seed you first make a batch of soil. My personal mix is about 2/3 Pro Mix BX from the local garden center and 1/3 coarse sand. I also add in some chipped limestone. The soil mix does not matter much and I have personally used straight sand, and pre-mixed cactus soil with no additives.
Once you have your soil ready its time to make some sort of humidity dome. Anything from an actual humidity dome from your local hydroponics store, to a professional heated seed starter to a simple Styrofoam cup with Saran wrap covering it will do. Basically the secret here is to provide a warm humid environment for the seeds to germinate in. I use cheap humidity domes from the local hydro store, but if you have a little extra cash try out a pro seed starter; though I do not use them myself, I have heard nothing but good things about them.
Before the soil is placed into the rows of little pots in the humidity dome I soak it in tap water and bake it in the oven @ 400 for about an hour. This keeps bacteria and other unwanted life forms out of the extremely humid environment during the long germination period.
Once your soil has been baked and allowed to cool to room temperature it is thoroughly soaked and allowed to drain, then it is placed into the pots and lightly patted down. The seeds are either sprinkled or placed one by one onto the surface of the soil. Aim to give each seed about 0.5- 1cm of room on all sides to allow for growth. Once all your seeds are placed onto the soil they are lightly patted down into the soil. They don't need to be submerged just very lightly patted into the soil. I do another light misting and then put the lid on the humidity dome.
That's all there is to starting Peyote from seed. Anywhere from 24 hours to two weeks later, little green balls will appear on the soil. After the initial germination open the humidity dome up a couple times a day and fan new air onto the Peyote's. Remember if the surface of the soil dries out, it needs to be re-misted. If using an air tight dome, or a Styrofoam cup with a sandwich taped onto the top you may not need to re-mist for months. I keep my seedlings in their humid atmosphere for over 6 months. After about 3 months I start to poke holes in the humidity dome with a nail. I do 3 holes about a cm in diameter every week until I feel the domes humidity has gone down to the point where it matches the ambient humidity of the room. After this time the dome is no longer used. For the first year the seedlings are kept in heavily shaded sunlight, under fluorescence, or at a fair distance from HID lighting.
Peyote are a desert plant and need a fair bit of light. They do not need direct sunlight and in fact can be injured or killed by too much light when they are young. Once mature that tolerate more light. For the first year of growth they are protected from too much light. After this point they can be slowly introduced to a heavier source of light by putting them in their new light source for longer and longer periods of the day. Regular fluorescent light sticks work well from the seedling through youngling stages of growth. HID lighting can be used very effectively if done properly. I have experience using both Metal Halide and High Pressure Sodium lamps. A 600w HPS lamp at a distance of 1.5-2 meters give good results for mature Peyote's. I have also had good results using a 400w metal halide lamp at around the same distance. If using good old fashioned mother nature for a light source, a partially shaded windowsill or greenhouse is ideal.
The soil needed in Peyote cultivation is not very critical at all. I have almost as many soil mixtures as I do Peyote's. Avoid heavily fertilized soils like those formulated for flowers and such. The most important thing to achieve is a well draining soil. Aim to have the soil go from completely wet to completely dry within one week. If it takes much longer than this you will be exposed to rot. I have found that a nutrient-less soil like Pro Mix BX mixed with 1/3 volume of sand and some lime stone chipping works well. The pot for a mature peyote should not be much larger than the peyote itself. The larger the pot, the longer you have to wait between watering. Also remember to use drainage stones for the bottom 4cm of the pot to prevent root rot and help with drainage.
Watering is the best way to get excellent growth on Peyote; its also by far the easiest way to kill it. Never water your Peyote unless the soil has dried out almost completely. a moisture meter is a cheap and effective way to take out the guess work and I highly recommend one to anyone new to Peyote cultivation. After a while you will "just know" when you plants need water.
My plants are watered about once a week for the ones in small (10cm or less) pots. Any larger clay pots that house my large mature Peyote's have to wait about 2 weeks between watering. Watering of Peyote is best done by sitting the pots in about 6cm of water until the soil is thoroughly wet (about 20-30min.) Peyote growing under sunlight of in green house conditions need almost no water during the winter. Maybe once of twice. Under artificial lighting they can drink year round.
A NOTE ON WATERING: Peyote may like limestone and/or alkaline soil, but they like acidic water. In fact most Cacti need acidic water or they will become sick after about a year in a particular pot. For every 14L batch of water I make for my Peyote's I add 2 teaspoons of white vinegar to the mix. This brings the PH down to about 5.6-6. I used a PH meter to come up with this formula and you should too as the PH of water can vary greatly from municipality to municipality. I also add a dilute fertilizer with every watering. Any cactus specific fertilizer will do. Just dilute it to one quarter the recommended strength.
Pest can and will attack Peyote. The most common are Mealy bugs and Red Mites. Mealy bugs are a waxy little white scarab looking insect that feeds on the juices of you plants. Pick off all the Mealy bugs and spray the plant down with horticultural oil. If there is a major problem you may need to use a systemic insecticide. Just be sure to educated yourself about how long this "chemical" will last inside your plant and do not consume a plant that has not metabolized the insecticide. I use an insecticide that degrades in about three weeks regardless of what plant it has been absorbed into. Red Spider mites are very insidious. They are almost invisible and can cause great scarring. Though they are not usually fatal, they spread like wild fire and can turn a beautiful plant into an ugly duckling in no time. They too can be treated with insecticidal oils and soaps as well as systemic insecticides. Raising the humidity of the growing area can also greatly discourage Red Mites. Once a plant has been attacked by these mites it often shows a rusty yellowish scarring, which many new growers mistake for excessive sunlight. the scarring will eventually grow out, but can take over a year to do so.
Harvesting a peyote button is extremely simple; you cut the whole top off the plant just a little above the soil line. If you leave a bit of green and a few Aureola, the root should produce new buttons. Once a button has been harvested it may be consumed fresh or it can be dried out for later use. Drying is easily achieved by laying the button upside down and directing a fan on it for a day or until it is brittle when bent. Peyote has and extremely extremely bitter taste and many people go to an extreme to mask the flavor. A sure fire way to do this is to grind the dried buttons to a powder with a coffee grinder and encapsulate it into gel caps. About 10 grams of dried peyote is needed for the full effects to manifest. If you are one of those "die hard" types and feel the need to experience the extreme bitterness, then try a few sips of Grapefruit juice after each bite.
Many people get nausea for about the first hour or so after ingestion and some say it helps to eat half a dose, then wait an hour and eat the second half. Many people do in fact vomit from ingesting peyote and this is normal. Once you have "purged" the nausea generally subsides as the Peyote takes effect. A typical Peyote experience will last between 10-12 hours and can last even longer with a larger dose.
Legality of Peyote
The main active alkaloid in peyote in Mescaline. Under Canadian law Mescaline is a Schedule 3 drug and any container of Mescaline is subject to the same legal definition. However Peyote or Lophophora Williamsii is specifically exempt from the Controlled substances and Drugs act.
"17. Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxybenzeneethanamine) and any salt thereof but not peyote (Lophophora)"
So in Canada at least, Peyote is legal to grow, sell, buy, and consume.
Edited by Mrs.Hippie3, 28 April 2010 - 06:47 PM.