Would you like to become the loving parent of one of our beautiful cacti? Before you adopt one, here is an overview of information that certainly will be useful. For this blog we focus on Peyote, the most famous mescaline-containing cactus.
Someone who sees a Peyote for the first time may not immediately think of a cactus. He lacks that stereotypical feature... spines! This cuddly species has the biggest reputation among the mescaline-containing cacti. Because of its special appearance it is a beautiful addition to houseplants and can thrive well indoors, provided the right care and attention is given.
The Peyote grows very slowly: it can take 13 years to mature! Often it is no bigger than a golf ball. From the age of three it can produce beautiful white-pink flowers, with a deep yellow calyx and red fruits with black seeds.
The Peyote originates from the northern part of Texas and Central Mexico. Here, the species is now threatened. Because of its extremely slow growth and great interest from collectors, it is unfortunately rare to be found in the wild. Originally it was the indigenous people of that region who used the cactus for ritual purposes. Its use dates back to at least 5500 years ago. To this day 'Peyotism' exists, the Native American Church has permission to use this hallucinogenic cactus for ceremonies.
We travel to Mexico, where the climate can be very dry, sunny and warm. The soil consists of rocks with various minerals, which allow the water to drain away well. The Peyote loves this. Thanks to its long 'pen' root, it can store a lot of water in times of drought. To stimulate the growth of your Peyote and to support it having a healthy root, it is wise to repot your cactus to a larger pot (about 3-4 times the diameter and 4-5 times the height of the Peyote). Repotting is best done in spring time.
Cacti like alkaline, porous soil. Porous means that the soil is airy and lets water through well. Imitate as much as possible the circumstances in which the Peyote originally came from.
This formula can be used for your Peyote, but is also suitable for other cacti:
Equal parts commercial potting soil and construction sand. Add one tablespoon of bone meal and ground limestone per litre of mixture.
Tip: When you make your own mixture, it's a good idea to sterilize it. This means that you bake the soil mix at 100 degrees Celsius in the oven, to kill the insect eggs, weed seeds and bacteria that are present.
As mentioned before, Peyote loves drought. It even goes so far that from about mid-October it doesn't need any water at all, until about mid-March, when the weather gets sunnier and warmer. During the entire winter period it will rest and prefers a temperature of around 5-10 degrees Celsius. So put it at the least heated place at home (but where it doesn't get below 5 degrees Celsius), with enough daylight.
In the summer months you can water your cactus more and put it outside. Fresh air and sunshine will do it considerable good. Attention: a cactus has to get used to direct sunlight, put it in the shade for the first few weeks! You can also let it experience a heavy rainfall, as long as it gets time to dry up completely (always watch out with root rot, this is a killer!). Anyway it's best not to give your Peyote tap water, because it contains too much lime and fluoride. Collect rainwater in a tub and you always have a supply to quench your Peyote's thirst. Depending on the weather conditions, you can water your cactus about once every 2 weeks, preferably on sunny days, so it can dry well.
Fortunately, cacti can take a beating and are not very susceptible to diseases. The only thing you have to pay attention to are fungi and rotting, especially when they get too much water they can suffer from this. Rotten parts need to be cut away and treated with a fungicide.
In terms of pests, your cactus can suffer from scale insects. When this happens you have to intervene immediately and save your beloved cactus (best in a nature friendly way).
The most environmentally friendly way to combat scale insects is to spray the cactus with a mixture of cleaning alcohol and nicotine.
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