San Pedro Cactus is one of the most popular cactus varieties and has been able to gain a lot of popularity due to multiple reasons. One of the most distinctive cacti, San Pedro cactus is known for the psychedelic properties that it comes with. While most of the cacti grow without much care, a few tips may still be essential to ensure that the growth of San Pedro cactus is on the expected lines.
San Perdo seeds will need moist soil, humidity and proper shade for germinating. It can be easily grown in fertile and well drained soil. Taking care to avoid too much sun can be much practical option to go with.
What is San Pedro Cactus?
San Pedro Cactus is scientifically known as Trichocereus pachanoi, Cereus pachanoi or Echinopsis peruviana (Peruvian torch cactus). It is a native to a South America including Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. It comes with a minimalistic look and has been the best to go with if you want to build a rock garden along with other cacti brands.
The cactus is also known by over 25 different names like andachuma, huachuma, wachuma, aguacolla, giganton, hahuacollay, to name a few. This cactus is fast-growing and can grow upto 3m (20 feet) in height and prefers an arid environment.
Growing San Pedro cactus is really undemanding, fun and rewarding for both learners and expert cacti cultivators. That is because this versatile cactus only need water and some nutrients, and nothing else! For thousands of years, San Pedro cactus has been used in conventional medicine and angekok practices in South America. However, the psychedelic properties of the plant make it a little out of sync with the authorities.
Dr. Joseph Nelson Rose, an American botanist, named it after Eng. Abelardo Pachano Lalana, a well known Ecuadorian botanist.
Friedrich and G. D. Rowley in 1974, combined the genus Trichocereus and Echinopsis (ek-in-OP-sis), mentioning an appearance similar to sea urchins.
The genus Echinopsis pachanoi is valid nowadays and efforts are being made to reinstate Trichocereus as the only genus due to conflicting differences in the genera.
Features of San Pedro Cactus
Some of the features that make the San Pedro cactus stand apart would include,
- San Pedro cactus is a large columnar, multi-stemmed cactus with each individual stem being green or blue-green and becoming darker with age. Each individual stem has about 4-8 ribs with upward facing areoles with spines that are light brown or dark yellow and is 2.4-5.9 inches (6-15cm) thick.
- It grows really fast, reaching up to 5-6 meters (19 feet) in height and 2 meters (6 feet) in width. In favourable conditions, San Pedro cactus grows up to 12 inches (30 cm) every year.
- In July, the sharp buds of the San Pedro cactus grow into beautiful fluted, whitish flowers which open at night, releasing a pleasant fragrance and are about 8.7 inches (22 cm) in diameter.
- The fruits of the San Pedro are edible and are called Pitahaya that are red in colour, sweet and delicious, covered with black or brown hairs and scales all over the fruit about 1.9″ to 2.4” inches long and 1.2″ inches in diameter.
- San Pedro or Trichocereus Pachanoi is closely linked to Trichocereus peruvianus also known as the Peruvian Torch Cactus. Both these cacti look alike and it is not possible to distinguish them if you’re not an expert.
- San Pedro cactus is loaded with wonders and like Peyote, it contains mescaline, a psychedelic compound, also known as 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine, is a hallucinogenic drug and it’s consumption is banned in the US, where it is grown only for ornamental purposes.
- The San Pedro cactus prospers at higher altitudes, like the Andes Mountains, where it can exist at a height of 6,600–9,800 feet (2000m-3000m).
- When grown outdoors, the San Pedro cactus can endure lower temperatures up to 48.2°F (-9°C) and it prefers light to moderate weather, lots of light, and slightly more nutrient-rich soil and well-draining soil than regular cacti soil mix.
- Although eating San Pedro cacti is prohibited in many countries, it is absolutely fine to adorn your home or garden with these wonderful plants. San Pedro is relatively poisonous so be mindful to keep it away from children and pets.
How to grow San Pedro Cactus Indoors?
Before growing San Pedro Cactus, make sure that you have the necessary tools and other paraphernalia ready with you.
You will invariably need the following –
- A pot. Ideally a 5 to 6 inch pot is recommended
- Cactus potting mix
- Potting soil
- Gardening gloves
Step 1 – Choose the right type of soil
Make sure that you have chosen the best quality of the soil to meet the needs of the cactus. The soil should be porous and should be able to drain out faster. This is to ensure that the plant is not over watered and does not cause rot rot as a consequence. San Pedro cactus would also find the dry soil a preferred option.
Key Takeaway –
While growing San Pedro Cactus indoors, keep it on a well-lit window sill, ideally on the south-side and water it frequently on hot summer days. As we already know, it grows fast, if they are accustomed to their growth environment, in well-draining soil, and watered more often in warm summer months.
As houseplants, these cacti demand lighter and in the absence of adequate natural light, you can arrange some grow lights for better growth of the plant.
Mature plants grow 11-12 inches (30cm) in a year.
You can make the soil more porous and improve the drainage by adding the following elements to the soil –
Step 2 – Transplanting the cactus from Nursery pot to your permanent pot
Once you have the soil and potting mix ready, you can simply fill your pot with it halfway. Even it with the Trowel. You can add the draining material that we already specified above.
Now make a hole in the pot with your fingers. The hole can be around two to three inches in diameter. Carefully remove the San Pedro cactus from the nursery plot and transfer it to the new pot into the hole that you have just created. Tuck in the soil around the cactus until the roots are completely covered. Water the cactus until the soil is a little damp. Take care not to make it too sopping wet.
Step 3 – Water your newly planted Cactus
Now that the cactus has been planted, water it once a week. In case you are growing a cactus from a seed, it is advisable to water it twice a week until you find some sort of germination happening. Ensure that you are not overwatering your cactus. You will end up with the root rot which can ultimately kill the plant.
It may be a good idea to stop watering the plant completely during the colder months. The San Pedro Cactus is likely to go dormant between October and April, and watering it during this period may make it rot faster.
Fertilisers should be an integral part of your San Pedro cactus care. Fertilisers will provide the plant with the nutrients that the water alone may not be able to provide. It is highly recommended to use liquid fertiliser which is considered to be a more practical solution.
Seedlings will need diluted fertilisers, while adult cacti can work well with undiluted fertilisers.
Check out a few mistakes that you need to avoid when taking care of San Pedro cactus –
Step 4 – Provide proper sunlight
Given the fact that San Pedro is a desert plant, it is advisable to provide it with enough proper sunshine. Make sure that you are introducing it slowly to the sunlight. You need to take special care if that happens to be a seedling, as it can burn out due to heavy sunlight.
It is important that your San Pedro cactus receives enough sunlight along with a little shade. This will help lessen the harshness of the sun.
Propagating San Pedro Cactus
Propagation of San Pedro can be done either from seeds or from offsets.
Take healthy seeds that are less than ten years old, but within one year the seeds are the most successfully germinated.
Fill the container or pot with the potting soil mix and level the soil and press down lightly to give a stable platform for the seeds. Spread the seeds on the soil, letting them rest on top. Gently spray the soil with water and cover with plastic wrap or lids.
Keep the container or pot in a sunny area where they don’t get direct sunlight.
You can use an LED lamp of 150 watts or higher to initiate germination. The temperature should be between 77°F and 86°F (25° – 30° C).
Seeds will germinate within 2 to 3 weeks. If a seed doesn’t germinate in 6 weeks or has white mold, then it is dead.
Remove the lid and let the soil dry if you find any signs of the fungus gnats.
Seedlings can be transplanted to pots after one year.
Be cautious to buy good quality seeds as the inferior quality seeds are easily available in the market.
Also check the age of the seeds before trying to self-germinate.
The younger seeds have better chances of successful germination.
It is easy to propagate San Pedro cacti from offsets, which grow amply near the base of the mature plants. Remove the offsets safely, make a clear cut with a sharp, clean knife, as close to the stem as possible. Keep the fresh cuttings on a piece of paper and let them dry out a little, cut each one at the narrowest place, and allow it to be callous for a few days. When cuttings have been calloused, safely place them in a container with drainage holes and well-draining soil.
Repot your San Pedro cactus during the warm season. Before repotting, the soil should be dry to avoid damaging the roots. Remove all the soil simply and clean any dead or rotten roots. Check out for pests and diseases and treat any cuts with a fungicide. Put the plant in a new container and spread the roots widely while you add fresh cacti soil mix. Allow the plant to rest in dry soil for a week and then start watering it lightly till the plant adapts to its new environment.