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FAQ: San Pedro

25 November 2009 2 Comments

Someone on ebay asked me the following question and I thought I post the answer here for everyone.

i have bought a san pedro cactus in the past.
i was wondering if you could offer any advice as to how to plant it.
when i got it both ends were sealed, do I need to chop off this sealed part or something and is there anyway to figure out which way up it goes?

I’d reallly appreciate your assistance in getting my cactus in the ground.
alternatively if you know of any useful growing resources on the net I’d be pleased to go here.”

san-pedro-flowering-unrootedThe cut end(s) of a San Pedro must be sealed dry prior to planting. That takes a minimum of a week, but you can leave them unplanted for months. Eventually they’ll start growing new tips even if not planted and will sprout roots looking for soil. Don’t re-cut the sealed end unless there is signs of rot, e.g. brown or orange bad looking colouring.

The San Pedro to the right has just started flowering despite being blown down a couple months ago and only planted a couple weeks ago when I first noticed the bud forming. This cactus doesn’t have roots yet and may well flower before¬†the¬†roots form.

To Plant: Rather than bury the San Pedro, rest it on top of a excellent draining light soil. You may need to stake it for the first six months while it grows roots and stabilises. Don’t water it too much. The worst thing to do is over water and have the base sitting on constantly wet soil, as that can cause rot.

Upside Down: If your San Pedro cutting doesn’t have a growing tip and you don’t know which way up it should go then the good news is it doesn’t matter. Plant it either way and it will grow, if upside down the new tips generally grow from the bottom, i.e. the old top. The even better news is there is a way you can tell.

Look very closely at the spines. Now look even closer at the pad the spines grow from. That pad slopes inwards, i.e. one part is further out and one part is ever so slightly sunk in. The in goes to the top and the out to the bottom.

Checkout these San Pedros for sale at eBay

2 Comments »

  • Geoff said:

    “Look very closely at the spines. Now look even closer at the pad the spines grow from. That pad slopes inwards, i.e. one part is further out and one part is ever so slightly sunk in. The in goes to the top and the out to the bottom.”

    From your quote above, I take it you mean the little spines on the cactus point UPWARD. Am I correct?

  • admin (author) said:

    Hi Geoff, I replied to your email.
    Planting cuttings upside down is certainly an easy mistake to make.
    To make this a non issue, I always cut the bottom of branch sections, i.e. any branch without a tip, in a concave fashion. You should do this anyway to promote root growth to go downward from the centre core, rather than out from the edges. It also reduces the chance of root.
    If you have a section which this hasn’t been done to then you need to look closely at the spine pads. Below the pad is slightly higher than the above the pad, i.e. each section between the pads grows slightly outward, skinner to fatter. Does that make sense? On average the spines do point upward, the best way to use that as a double check is run your hand along the section, it will catch more going downwards (i.e. the way that you should have it facing.)
    Dean

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