The Peyote cactus is a cacctus wihtout spines and has a rich history of being in use for the ritual purposes. If you are checking out the options for how to grow Peyote, it may be necessary to check out the legal obligations in your region. The plant may be illegal, but also carries a lot of religious significance.
Growing Peyote cactus in the United States is illegal and not allowed both for growing and consumption. However, if you are a memeber of NAC or National American Church, you will be allowed to grow and consume the Peyote cactus. However, it is recommended that you can grow the plants that act as lookalikes of Peyote.
What is Peyote cactus?
The Peyote cactus is a small and spineless cactus and psychoactive alkaloids. The major ingredient contained in the Peyote cactus is Mescaline which is also found in the San Pedro cactus. The cactus has its name derived from the Spanish word Nahuatl peyōtl, meaning “caterpillar cocoon”, from a root peyōni, “to glisten”.
Peyote ccactuss is native to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and northeastern Mexico. The plant has psychoactive chemicals which are used for awareness and cause a mental and physical high. The plant belongs to the slowly growing variety and can take up to 13 years to grow to the full size. In any case, it is illegal to grow Peyote unless you are not a memebr of NAC.
Bulk part of the plant is underground and has thicker and wider roots. It looks much like carrots. The plant is greenish blue with 5 to 13 ribs and fuzzy hair. It produces the pink colored flowers and they further grow into club-shaped, edible pink berries.
Some of the characteristics of the Peyote cactus an be summed up as
How to take care of Peyote cactus?
Peyote cactus is a small plant and thus is vulnerable to a higher degree. It would take seeveral months for the root system of the plant to develop. That would involve a lot of patience on your part to check out the plant and avoid any issues that may damage it.
It is advisable to keep the soil warm for the first two years. This will help accelerate the growth of the plant. Water the younger ones only a little as they are known to go wihtot water for a longer period of time. Avoid watering the Peyote cactus altogether between mid-autumn and the end of winter to avoid root rot. By the end of first year, there should be enough growth of the roots.
To 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. Make sure that you have avoided direct sunlight for 12 to 14 hours a day.
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 few things you should know about
Before you can begin cultivaing Peyote cactus, you should take care of a few prerequisites –
- You need to be from the designated areas for cultivating the Peyote cactus. Only those belonging to Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado or Oregon are allowed.
- You should be a member of NAC
- 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 are planned to 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.
- You can grow an alternative cactus if you are not permitted to grow the Peyote cactus.
The peyote seeeds are generally “stolen” by the ants. Make sure that you have made proper arrangements for the storage of the seeds. There are several factors that would decide the seed germination. A few such factros would include seed viability, moisture, temperature, soil mix, and light. Make sure of a soil pH value of 6.5-7.2 for a successful germiantion. When we tested the proper pH levels for the Peyote plants, we found a better rate of success with the pH value of 6.5 to 6.7 in most of the cases. Based on our experiene in cultivating the Peyote and a host of ther succulents, we recommend to maintain the pH value that is at the optimum level.
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.
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.
If you have planted the seeds in a well drained planting mix, they can be sufficiently watered. If you have a hot weather at the time, it would be a good option to water it enough. It should be watered twice a week and fertilised once in a weeek. It may be a good option to water the plants with slightly acid 5.1 pH water.
What are the uses of Peyote cactus?
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.
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.
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.
Few issues you may come across with Peyote cactus
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.
Red spider mites, Springtails, and Thrips are the bugs that affect peyote. Mnay cactus and succulent plants attract bugs and that has become a serious concern for the cactus cultivators like us.
- 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.
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.
A few FAQs
What are a few common Peyote side effects?
Some commonly observed side effects of Peyote ccactus usage can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased blood pressure
- Profound sweating
- Increase in body temperature
- Severe nausea and vomiting
This article gives information only for educational and gardening purposes.