How To Grow Peyote? {Learn All About Peyote and Growing it}


Grow Peyote seeds in a substrate made from an equal ratio of coconut husk and pumice, preferably in the spring season. They will germinate in 1 to 2 weeks without direct sunlight and can be placed closer to a window under a fluorescent lamp that can be turned on for at least 12 hours. Now avoid direct sunlight for 12 to 14 hours a day.

Peyote

Once the seedlings are set up, limit watering and place these plants in indirect sunlight at a temperature between 70°F to 90° F.

We know that cacti grow slowly, but peyote (Lophophora Williamsii is a cactus) grows slower than most cacti.


How To Grow Peyote?


Growing peyote is allowed only if you are a member of the NAC, but you can grow a replica of a peyote plant that will satiate your cravings for this adorable small cactus without violating the law.

It is illegal to grow or consume peyote in the United States if you are not a member of the Native American Church.

US officials consider the Peyote plant toxic, but indigenous inhabitants use it as a ritual for the theological and individual awakening process.

What is Peyote?

  • Peyote (Lophophora williamsii) is a small, spherical, flattened, spineless, and greenish-blue cactus with 5 to 13 ribs and frizzy hairs. It contains mescaline, a psychoactive compound.
  • Peyote originated in Northeastern Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. 
  • Most of the peyote is below the ground where bulky, wide roots grow just like leeks or carrots. 
  • About 2.5cm (1 inch) of the peyote cactus is above ground and is rounded with a diameter lesser than 5 cm. ( 2 inches). 
  • Peyote plants often have tubers that give a twisted impression of the ribs. Sometimes, the plant produces pink flowers that develop into club-shaped, pink berries that are edible.
  • It contains many psychoactive chemicals, along with mescaline, which is used in religious celebrations to increase perception and to reach higher realms physically and mentally. 
  • Peyote cultivation takes a long time, as the plant grows slowly and will mature in about 13 years.  
  • For growing peyote, you should be a member of the church and must have completed proper paperwork.
  • Most of the peyote is below the ground where bulky, wide roots grow just like leeks or carrots. 
  • The peyote cactus can resist high temperatures, but be vary of extreme temperatures. The ideal temperature for peyote is 23° Celsius, and can be grown inside homes and in outer areas as well.
  • It can also survive in slightly lower and higher temperatures and even in areas where temperature is between 20°C to 30°C.
  • The plant is facing extinction due to overexploitation and land development.
  • Astrophytum Asterias, the star cactus, also called the sand dollar or sea urchin cactus is identical to peyote and is legal to grow, but it is also near extinction. 
  • Star cactus has a fibrous root system and eight ribs. Star cactus has similar care requirements just like peyote and other cacti.
  • The small cushion-like upper part of peyote is called peyote button and is dried or used fresh for rituals. the larger root that is under the ground regenerates a new crown. The dried peyote buttons are not bigger than a quarter and the dose is 6 to 15 buttons. 
  • As the peyote plants grow older, they produce offsets and develop larger clusters of many plants. The cactus contains nine narcotic alkaloids of the isoquinoline sequence. The visual hallucinations occur mainly along with auditory and olfactory alterations.

Peyote cultivation

  • A fascinating fact about growing peyote plants is the paperwork needed to grow it. You should be in Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado or Oregon. You should be a NAC member and 25% First Nations. 
  • You have to write a Declaration of Religious Belief, notarize it, and file it with the County Recorder’s Office. Post a copy of this document above the place where plants will be grown.
  • Only the five states mentioned above permit the church members to grow the plant. Growing peyote is unlawful and banned in all other states. So, avoid growing it unless you are a certified member of the Native American Church. 
  • Or growing the star cactus is a great option with similar visual appeal and growth pattern. 

TRADITIONAL USES: 

In Texas, peyote buttons are also found in places, where about six thousand years old archaeological heirlooms are found. In northern Mexico, remnants of peyote have been found that are from about 2500 to 3000 B.P.  Peyotes with active alkaloids were also found in a cave burial area of 810-1070 C.E. 

TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: 

Cut off peyote buttons (the head) from the root. The buttons are eaten fresh, dried, or brewed in water. The cactus is exceptionally bitter and 4 to 30 buttons can be consumed in one time. Dried peyote powder is smoked or added to alcoholic beverages.

MEDICINAL USES: 

For native people, peyote is a general medicine for body and soul. The Aztecs used it for the treatment of fever. The Kickapoo of Mexico used fresh peyote slices to cure headaches, by applying the cactus on the head with a cloth. They used brewed peyote to treat arthritis.

Peyote Cactus Seeds

Peyote cactus seeds are produced by pollination of the pink flowers. The Peyote flower is bisexual with both male and female parts. In the wild, mature plants bloom after rainfall, about a week after watering the plants. 

Peyote flowers can be pollinated with a small (#2) paintbrush to softly rub pollen from the stamen into the pistils. 

After some days, the pollinated flowers develop small, club- shaped pink berries, each about ½ inch- 1 inch long. Allow the ripe berries to dry as they contain seeds.

Harvesting and Cleaning Seeds

Watch these fruits as they dry and shrivel because they can be lost among the central, white frizzy hairs. Remove the dried berries carefully from the plant with your fingers and tweezers. 

Let the pods or berries dry in a warm shaded, dry area. When dry, place the dried berries in a plate, pan or flat tray with a rim to prevent the seeds from spilling.  

Crush the dried berries between the thumb and index finger to remove the seeds. Collect these seeds and store them in a small pouch or paper.

Each fruit contains 6-30 seeds.  Dried Peyote buttons used for religious rituals often have dried seed pods. 

Ants can also take peyote seeds, so it is important to keep them away from the seed beds. 

Seeds can be dormant and remain viable for many years if stored properly in dry and dark places. However, fresh seeds germinate fast and should be sown in favourable conditions.

Soil Mixes

Peyote grows well in soil with a pH of 6.5 – 7.2.

Many combinations can be used to make peyote soil. Sand, limestone, peat, bone meal, blood meal, potting soil, bat guano, vermiculite, rabbit shit polymers, and perlite are generally used to make peyote soil mix.

Peyote is found in nature where limestone and coarse, stony, soil is found. 

Use commercial cactus and succulent mixes to avoid any inconvenience of making a soil mix and to grow peyote efficiently.

Planting Peyote Seeds

Seeds can be sown in trays with covers which can be procured from the greenhouse supply list or in small pots covered by cling wrap or a sandwich bag, anything that gives a greenhouse effect.

Make sure the growing trays contain drain holes and are inside a solid tray. Spread the mix evenly to fill the trays.  Add purified water into the solid tray and then dip the seed tray with holes in it to moisten the soil mix.  When the substrate is saturated, let the water drain thoroughly before putting it back into a solid tray.  Keep the area sterile by rubbing alcohol on hands or use nitrile gloves when you sow the seeds. 

Sprinkle the seeds gently over the moist soil. Do not cover with sand or soil as the seeds need light to germinate and should not be covered. 

If the sterile substrate is moist, then don’t drench as described above, rather slightly sprinkle distilled water after spreading the seeds evenly on the substrate to keep it moist. 

Place the trays in a warm place in indirect sunlight or 10 inches below LED grow lights. Seeds will germinate in 7-10 days. Seedlings are very delicate and there is no need to transplant for many years.

Seed germination is affected by many things like light, temperature, moisture, soil and seed viability. 

Germination of peyote seeds can be difficult in a very low or very high temperature. 

Excess heat will also make germination difficult as it makes the soil dry which is harmful to the germinating seeds. 

Peyote seedlings grow best at a temperature between 70-90 degrees and 13 to14 hours of light.  In cold areas, provide bottom heating with a warming mat for better root growth.

Peyote grows well provided it is kept away from direct sunlight. Artificial lights can be used to avoid the burns peyote may get from sunlight.

As the trays are covered with lids, one possible problem is mould and moss growing on the substrate.  Use little or no organic matter (like worm castings) in the substrate to reduce the mould. 

Once the mold appears, mix 3% peroxide with distilled water in equal parts and spray the mould areas gently with a sprayer.  Provide more airflow, so open the vents. When the seedlings are six months old, remove the lids and mist with 5.1% water daily. This is how how to get rid of mould.

Transplantation

When the seedlings are 2 years old, they can be transplanted from  planting trays to pots and should be frequently watered. Transplant carefully into deeper containers with proper drainage

The seedlings are very delicate and it takes 6 to 12 years to grow from seeds to mature plants but they grow fast in a favourable environment and a small Peyote button can be seen  (¼” in diameter) within a year or two. 

A few Peyote grown from seeds will bloom in 5 years. 

Adult Peyote plants flourish in temperatures ranging from 45 F°-100°F. In dry soil, it can endure temperatures from 30°F to 110°F. To protect Peyote from temperatures more than 120° F, water frequently and cover with a shade cloth. 

Peyote cannot endure frost or near-freezing temperatures for a long time and can be damaged or killed by frost. It should be kept indoors in areas where the temperatures fall below 40° F.

Watering

Peyote should be watered frequently and fertilized in the summers, especially when it is planted in a Well-draining substrate. During the hot summers, water twice a week and fertilize once or twice a month. 

When grown for commercial purposes, gardeners sprinkle their plants with fertilizer daily. 

The sprinkling humidifies the surface of the Peyote and the small stomata absorb the moisture and nutrients from the skin.

Watering with a slightly acidic 5.1 pH water provides calcium and other minerals from the substrate mix to the plants. 

Avoid watering when the environment becomes cold, (as at the Church, in South Texas and Northern Mexico). Restrict watering for a month of dormancy so the plants get time to relax. 

Proper Harvesting

  1. The wild populations of Peyote are harmed by Federal laws which are made to damage Peyote habitats. 
  2. The commercial use of Peyote habitat for cattle farms, oil wells, and for housing has made peyote endangered. Improper harvesting in the wild is also adding to the reduction of the population of this plant. 
  3. Luckily, use of shovels to collect Peyote buttons is a less damaging harvesting technique than using clevers to cut the Peyote at the ground level.
  4. There are many ways to properly harvest greenhouse grown Peyote to let the plant revive. Giving a diagonal cut helps the root to discard water which may cause it to rot. 
  5. Use sharp tools to give a crescent cut or crown cut. Keep a sharp knife ¼”-1” above the root and cut across the top tilting to the root and leave some green peyote on the root. 
  6. When cut correctly, the root produces one or more crown buds, thus replacing the older one with a new crown and an additional crown.
  7. These buds can be treated with a rooting hormone and can be harvested when fully grown. 
  8. The root keeps on producing new buds. One good harvesting technique called ” crown cut” is used in greenhouses. For the crown cut, use a sharp knife and a ¾” hole-making drill bit.
  9. Push the drill bit over the apical meristem in the centre where the centre tuft is present and then with the sharp knife, cut around the base of the peyote crown leaving green all over on the root. 
  10. The round crown is then separated from the peyote plant and dried. The cut plant looks like an apple core and heals fast.  
  11. The cut becomes unnoticeable in about two years, leaving a little scar.
  12. Broken buds or the buds cut from the mother plant should be rooted only in a warm climate that can be regulated. 
  13. Place cut buttons in a dry, shaded area. Don’t put them in soil but place them on the top of a dry substrate in a greenhouse or closer to other growing peyote to encourage them to grow roots.
  14. Place them on a dry substrate and mist them instead of watering for many weeks. 
  15. The cut Peyote tops grow new roots and can rot if they are kept in an overly wet soil mix.  
  16. Peyote tops that are not healthy or are unrooted appear light and soft. As the plants start growing, they are vital and gain weight.
  17. The Peyote tops can be watered ardently once roots develop and the plants are plump and lively .

Problems

Why do Peyote plants appear shriveled and dehydrated, despite being given sufficient water?

The problem may be due to compact soil that doesn’t allow the plants to breathe and the roots to spread. 

This problem can be rectified by using a stony soil mix( use pumice, zen sand, and lava sand),  calcium carbonate or limestone when mixed together as both are porous and gritty, providing various nutrients to peyote.

Avoid using worm castings, fine sand, compost, and other soils that form lumps in the soil, thus making breathing difficult for the plants. So use them in minimal amounts.

Examine the roots of the plant and if you see whitish stuff on the root, the soil is too compact (i.e. excess worm casting or compost mix or insufficient aerating pumice). 

The fungus is a sign of poor soil mix and will be fixed itself as the soil mix is rectified. 

Thoroughly wash the roots in an equal mix (50/50) of commercial 3% peroxide and distilled water and allow the plants to dry in shade. 

When dry, replant in a dry earth, granulated limestone ( zen sand) and pumice mix with limited worm castings. Avoid watering for at least one week.

Recovery may take time (months), during this time do not soak the soil. Light misting is sufficient. When you start watering, water thoroughly like any other plant so that water drains out of the bottom and keep aside for at least one week to dry out completely.

Avoid keeping the Peyote plant in a sunny Southern window.

Peyote plants can shrivel in the intense sunlight. Peyote acts more like a succulent rather than a cactus and loves similar lighting just like Aloe Vera.

Check your light and if the bright sunlight is for a longer duration that may shrivel peyote or turn brown. Put shade cloth over the window and find if your plants are relieved.

Less light will make Peyote tall or etiolated.

Bugs

Red spider mites,  Springtails, and Thrips are the bugs that affect peyote. 

  • Spider mites are small, red spider-like insects that damage peyote plants of any age and need immediate action. Apply 70% Neem as a foliar spray.  Spray it twice, first to remove the mites and then again in 10-14 days to destroy the hatching insects. 
  • Thrips devour into the core of the Peyote, giving the impression of new peyote heads growing where the damage occurs. Monterey Spray with Spinosad can be used for Thrips. Use the spray first to kill the bugs, and after 10-14 days to kill the hatching bugs. In the warm months, spray quarterly. Use Neem spray for two consecutive weeks and then Monterey Spray for two consecutive weeks.
  • Pyrethrum spray is the most effective organic bug spray that can be used by spraying corners, floors, walls, and shelves in the greenhouses for a preventative effect.
  • Use AzaMax organic insecticide for soaking the planting trays with seedlings. Follow the label instructions carefully before using insecticides.

Buying Peyote Cactus

Buying peyote cactus can be troublesome as it can be grown only by members of Native American Church. For the others it is illegal to grow peyote.

Peyote is a Schedule 1 controlled drug illegal to use in the U.S. except for the members of the Native American Church.1.

In Texas, peyote sellers have to register with the Drug Enforcement Administration and then with the Texas Department of Public Safety to legally sell the peyote “buttons” to the members of the Native American Church.

Peyote Plant For Sale

You can buy peyote plants and seeds both offline and online.

The best place to buy peyote cactus is online, search for a good cactus seed dealer to grow your own peyote. It will take some time  to grow big. Another way is to look for a cactus seller’s market to buy peyote offline, especially in Europe.    

If you want to buy peyote cactus online, there are many online stores

like Amazon, Flipkart and many others that sell fresh peyote plants and peyote seeds. We are sharing some links below from where you can buy peyote plants and seeds:

You should research properly where to buy peyote as some places that claim to sell peyote aren’t actual but are fake ones.

Conclusion

Growing peyote needs dedication as peyote is a demanding cactus plant in terms of care and growth, but it can be fun and satisfying both.  

For those who grow peyote, it is immortalizing and following their religion. 

This article gives information only for educational and gardening purposes.

Nikita

Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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