After cultivating cannabis for a decade and several nightshades and south american plants for a couple of years, I've found my biggest passion yet: cacti ! I've been germinating and grafting for fun over the last couple of years, but last year I've decided that I'm gonna start a big and long-term journey with these wonderful plants.
The first steps are being made right now..I'm looking for a house to rent with a handful of friends, because we all have hobbies that need lot's of space (gardening, mushroom cultivating and two painters [and 5 dogs]) and we talked about renting a house together. We are looking all around right now and I also started to sow the first seeds today. We decided to find "the right" place where we can stay for at least the next 10 years and spend our time together (we know eachother since childhood).
I've decided to make a personal topic where I will show you what I'm doing in my cactus playground.
I don't want to make an encyclopedia on how to cultivate cacti, but just show you how I do it.
I will show you techniques and tricks that can help you out a lot when you're considering to start cultivating cacti yourself.
This is my first big project (several thousand seeds) and I've been reading into this for 2 years. I've met some very successful breeders in switzerland and have some very good connections to get seeds and useful informations. I went to italy, france and germany to get to know this people personaly because I know that this will be a part of my life until the day I perish. So I gave all my energy and also spend some money to travel to these people and meet them and their lifeworks in person.
I want to share this knowledge with you, some of these people are cultivating for over 50 years.
I will keep this topic updated as my project develops. But one must be very patient with cacti seedlings so don't expect to see huge peyotes grown from seed in 2-3 years. No, we can talk in 30-50 years about big ass peyotes :). This is my journey and I want to share it with you and also help you out if you need help with your cactus.
I am not an expert and have just started doing research myself a little over a year ago, but I'm consuming this topic right now and spend several hours everyday with reading and surfing cactus forums all over the internet.
Ask anything related to cacti and I will do my best to help you.
Greetings. Blessings. Love!
I wrote some stuff over the last couple of years and created a very very, very simple and small guide for beginners.
Neptunechilds Cacti Guide
I. Substrate & Pots
II. Seeds & CITES I & II
IV. Indoor & Outdoor Cultivation
Before you start to buy seeds, make sure you have the right substrate. Every breeder has his own mix, so do I.
Usually you work with 80-100% mineral soil. My coice would be pumice, limestone, lava and dolomite.
Young seedlings and cacti need a fine substrate, the substrate get's thicker as your cacti grow.
Starting with sand and finally using stones with a diameter of 1cm and above.
Nearly all cacti need a good drainage which is available when you work with pure mineral substrates. But if you grow a San Pedro cactus for example, you can add 50% soil to the mix. Put some rocks in your pot before you fill up with your substrate in that case.
When working with seeds many breeders sterilize their substrate. The seeds need to be kept at high humidity and warm for several months. The chances your substrate get's infected with fungi is not as big as working with soil, but it can still happen. Especially if you're working in a tent like me where you have other plants standing in soil. To sterilize can and is helpful, but I'm too lazy to do that. That's why I use biological aids but I'll come to this later. Charcoal can be used as a very cheap and useful disinfectant. My substrate contains about 10% charcoal, burnt by myself and chmicals free.
You can use any pot you want, just make sure it's not a very thin plastic pot. I work with plastic pots only because it's cheaper and I will need several 10'000 pots in the next couple of years, so it's also good because of the weight. I also want to isolate the roots as good as possible from the climate outside of the substrate. My cacti stand outside, not in a greenhouse.
Seeds & CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
Some decisions made by the CITES are very controversial. There are some cacti on the list which are not endangered. And there are some cacti missing which are critically endangered. But as a cacti breeder CITES is a part of your life, especially if you want to breed 100% legal.
All cacti are on the CITES II list and nearly 80% of my cacti are on the CITES I list. For me it's very important to not harm the species and nature, so I only buy CITES I seeds from offical breeders who are allowed to breed and sell them. I also buy CITES I seeds and plants from private persons when I know that these cacti were grown by hand and not collected from the nature. The only exception that I make is with very very old specimen that have been collected over half a century ago (ONLY with a certificate). But I'm also not a huge fan of this, so I only own 3 cacti that were "illegaly" collected (there was no CITES in the 1940's).
I don't want to addvertise here were to buy CITES I seeds, so just send me a PM and I'm willing to help you out.
There are only a handful of CITES certified breeders in the world, I think all of them in europe.
You can legaly buy every other cactus (CITES II) and seeds from anywhere you want.
Fresh Seeds germinate the best but I had also 10 year old Turbinicarpus seeds that germinated (at a lower rate, but they did!).
Keep your seeds a dark and cool place, but don't put them into the refrigerator.
Too make this short: Cacti need high humidity (85% and above) and light to germinate and must be kept warm day and night.
You will want to take measures because there is a chance that you'll have some problems with fungi or even algae.
Equisetum arvense extracts and chinosol work great. I have no experience with other anti-fungicides...
I made a small and short turtorial where you can watch how I sow my Ariocarpus, Trichocereus and Ferocactus seeds.
There are 3 ways to cultivate cacti
Indoor under grow-lights
This is the least form that cacti are breed and is only done by beginners or by (mostly dutch) vendors.
Especially Peyotes are grown in the netherlands with a massive use of fertilizers to inflate them as fast as possible (like chickens).
That's how you sell a Peyote at 8 years of age with the size of 30 year old peyote. But not nearly as beautiful.
I have no experience myself with indoor breed cacti so I don't have much to say :)
Outdoor & windowsill with winter-dormancy
If you don't have the space or money for a greenhouse, or if you have just a handful of cacti, you can grow at your windowsill, in your garden or on your balcony. I personally grow on my balcony, it's big and facing south / south west which is the perfect spot if you're growing in your garden or elsewhere. I keep my cacti outside from when night tempratures don't fall under 10/12°C and take them inside before the first frost. Or even better, when tempratures don't rise above 10°C at night. From mid/end october until mid/end march I camp my cacti at 5-15°C with very low humidty and bright light. (Light is not necessary, you can overwinter them at a dark place as well).
Greenhouse with winter-dormancy
If you live in a place with a similar climate like the deserts of mexico or the mountains in south america, you won't need a greenhouse if you have a big garden...but nature is merciless and a hard winter can kill your lifework. Only take this risk if you live at a place were cacti grow naturally (Mexico, peruvian mountains etc..) Some loosers like me live in a place where you have -20°C in winter for several weeks and only about 33°C in the summer. So adding a greenhouse to your house will be a safe place for your cacti where you can have a very hot place with good humidity even if it's just 20°C outside. You will not have to move your cacti for winter dormancy but make sure that the night tempratures don't stay too low for long period.
When your cacti are young you will have to repot your cacti all 2-5 years depending on how you grow them and how big they get. I have some seedlings which have been in the same pot for 10 years becaue they were kept at extreme conditions and stayed very small and compact. Experienced growers know how to use fertilizers the right way and can keep their mature cactus in the same pot for several years (or even decades). It is very important that you repot your cacti only when the substrate is complete dry!
Many breeders recommend to leave your cacti for a day so that the root can dry even a little more before putting into new substrate. I never lost a cacti after repotting and think that it's a good advice.
Cacti without thorns are easy to repot, but when you're repotting a motherfucker like a Echinocactus grusonii you must use some tools like gloves or even polystyrene pieces.
I personally wait until the pot bursts apart. Which takes about 2-5 years with small cacti and 10+ years with bigger ones.
Some cacti grow over 10m and some of them don't get bigger then a golfball. Some cacti need nearly 30 years in nature to reach the size of a baseball, or even better, the size of a golfball (Aztekium Ritteri). If you don't want to wait e third of a lifetime for this to happen, you can graft your cacti on another cacti. Very popular example: Grafting the Peyote on a San Pedro cactus.
There are several reasons to graft a cacti.
You want a mother plant with many flowers so you can produce seeds.
You want your cacti to grow 2-4 times faster than usual.
To save the cactus, if the roots are rotten you can save the body by grafting it, if the infection didn't reach the body of the plant.
You have a special variagated cacti that will not survive on own roots and want to keep this rarity alive by grafting.
Experimental reasons, graftings etc..
Both plants must be out of dormancy and in full growth. So I don't make graftings before the end of april or even early may. If you cultivate indoors without dormancy you can do it whenever you want of course. You will need 2 cacti, a sterile knife, a pot with substrate and a good place to keep your grafted cactus (same condition as seeds).
The most popular cacti to graft on is the Pereskiopsis spathulata it grows like weed and is very easy to cultivate. You can grown them indoors all year and water then all two weeks. If you have a bigger cacti and you want to graft on a trichocereus or ferocactus for example, I recommend to start grafting on them when they are about 4-5 years of age. The age of the cactus that you want to graft does not matter. You can graft seedlings, young plants but also mature plants. You will have to change the graft stock after a couple of years. The older your cacti get, the longer they can stay on the same graft stock. Some cacti, for example the Ariocarpus genus, can be grafted once in their lifetime because they will break through the cactus they're grafted on and the roots will grow through it.
Keeping your graftings very warm and humid when you're grafting young seedlings is a must !
No extra high humidity is needed if you graft cacti that reached 2-3 cm in diameter, but it will def. be advantageous if you keep them at high humidity and I do highly recommend it. When your grafts show the first sign of new growth, you can place them to your other cacti.
Graftings need more water then seed grown cacti.
I water my grafted cacti twice as much as the other ones, and I also water some of them once a month in winter.
But be careful, even if your grafting doesn't die or rot away when you overwater it, your cactus can look weird and and unnatural.
Some breeders like this..I also have a Aricarpus Fissuratus graft that I overwater because I think that the cacti looks hilarious...
...and produces lots of seeds, so we are even hehehe =) !
I will show you guys step by step how I do it in april when I will start my first grafts for this year. There are some important techniques for a successful graft! Words are not enough to explain, you have to see it, and then later try it, to learn it !
Here is also a list of cacti that are very good for grafting, from personal experience and from inputs my friends gave me.
Especially recommended for seedlings:
These three cacti are very fast growing cacti but you can only use them mostly for just a couple of years.
I had one graft on a pereskiopsis which only lasted for 2 years and died within the third year. I saved the graft by regrafting it on a trichocereus. You can also use mature pereskiopsis, but this is uncommon. I guess the main reason is that it deforms the graft, while your cacti stay very authentic and with a natural apperance on a Ferocactus for example. But this is just a guess.
There are exceptions of course, just like with nearly everything in life :)!
For bigger and mature cacti:
This cacti that I just discovered seems to be a very popular graft stock for mature ariocarpus in germany! I must read more into this, as I'm a AriocarpusFreak!
Def.the best cacti to graft Astrophytum Caput-Medusae & Ariocarpus on from my experience.
I've seen a Trichocereus grafted on this since 30 years. Def. something I have to check out sooner or later.
Trichocereus Pachanoi, bridgesii and peruviana
Very stable graft stocks, but don't push growth as fast as Ferocactus or Harrisia. Doesn't like cool winter months if used for grafting
Myrtillocactus geometrizans & Cereus peruvianu
Don't have personal experience with these cacti, but I've seen some beautiful Astrophytum & Lophophora graftings on them.
Will update asap.
Well that's about it with informations and introduction..
I will post several pictures as my journey ripens and my cacti begin to bloom, get bigger or even grafted.
Hoping that you guys will enjoy this thread, I know that I will love to keep everyone updated.
This is an ongoing process and I am inviting you to take part in it with me. I also appreciate silent readers. I was reading years through mycotopia before I even joined the site :)!
Please ask anything you want about cactus cultivation and I will try my best to help you.
Greetings - Blessings - Love
I do not sterilize my substrate but soak it with bilogical anti-fungicide. If you choose to do it the same way, this is what you need.
First, gather your pots, substrate, seeds and a big bowl with your solution and big empty bowl to let it drain.
In my case:
Seeds & Pots
San Pedro (for grafting and also for ceremonies in a couple of years)
Ferocactus glaucescens (to graft on)
Ariocarpus Retusus var. Trigonus
Ariocarpus Retusus var. Trigonus. var Confusus, Aramberri
Ariocarpus Retusus var. Scapharostroides
Ariocarpus Bravoanus var. Hintonii
Dolomite (dolostone in english) for drainage 1/4 of the pot [you can also use limestone of course, it's only for drainage]
My cacti substrate 1/4 of the pot
The rest is a mix of of very fine pumic & zeolith (you can als use just pumice)
Water-solution: Water and 4ml of Equisetum arvense extract per 1L water.
If you have your pots ready soak them in your water solution and let them drain completely. The substrate must be moist, but not wet!
Sprickle your seeds over the substrate and do not cover it. I repeat, DO NOT, cover your seeds. They need the light to germinate!
Find a good place for your seeds.
I put them in a heated green house, and the greenhouse is inside my tent where I have 18 hours of 300W LED lightning.
I keep my mother plants in the tent over winter.
Calea Ternifolia (Zacatechichi), Rivea Corymbosa, Banisteriopsis Caapi, Psychotria Virids, Salvia Divinorum & Solandra Maxima.
(I also have atropa belladona, mandragora officinarum, brugmansia etc... motherplants but they are not in the tent as they don't need warm climates in winter.)
You understand that my cacti have great and powerfull spirits to guard and assit them by becoming wonderful.
Repotting Cacti, in this case Peyote seedlings (and 5 Turbinicarpus Flaviflorus)
These are the cacti that need a new pot.
Fill up your pots with 1/4 of drainage material, in this case dolomite. And then fill it up with your substrate.
Gently stick your seedlings into the substrate and fill it up with the rest of the substrate so that they have a good stand.
Cover them with very fine pumice, limestone or quartz-sand.
Drum on all side of the pot a little bit with your fingers so that the sand trickles down and hardens the substrate.
Cover it once more with sand and repeat. They should look like this now:
Done :). If you do this in the spring time, DO NOT WATER FOR AT LEAST 2 WEEKS !
I will post pictures in 2 months when I repot bigger cacti.!
Edited by coorsmikey, 10 September 2016 - 11:26 AM.
Added Archive tag