How do I care for my Lophophora cactus?

Unpack your Lophophora cactus as soon as possible, and for the first two weeks place in an area which receives bright filtered, non-direct light. After this acclimatisation time, it is time for the first watering, and the gradual introduction of more intense light.

An ideal condition for the growth of any Lophophora cactus is well-drained soil with a basic pH from 7.9 to 8.3, hence the provision of adequate calcium is vital (limestone chips are perfect). Most growers use a mix of sand, peat, limestone, blood meal, bone meal, potting soil, animal faeces, vermiculite, or perlite – the aim being to avoid encouraging common hazards such as nitrogen burn, saline dehydration, and rot.

For the casual Peyote gardener, we recommend growing Lophophora cacti in an equal mix of John Innes No.2 or generic cactus soil (available from most garden centres – make sure to break up/sieve out any large organic matter) and perlite (or similar volcanic stone). We also recommend adding a 1-2cm layer of stones or clay pot fragments at the bottom of the pot, to assist with drainage.

Contrary to popular wisdom, we water our Peyote every two weeks or so throughout the sunnier and warmer months, ceasing to do so as the seasons cool, bringing the plant’s dormant season. During the growth cycle, plants should not be watered again until the soil mix has been dry for at least three days. After a while it easy to tell when Lophophora require water, as they will become a little more shrunken and soften. Well-watered Peyote is hard to the touch and generally a little brighter.

All cacti benefit from occasional dosage with low nitrogen, high phosphorous fertilizer, as this promotes root development and proper tissue consistency. While high nitrogen fertilizer will dramatically increase the speed of growth, it may also cause the cacti to swell, split, and/or become hollow, damaging the plants and reducing their survival rate during the colder months.

Lophophora tolerate temperatures of or 5°C-55°C / 45°F-130°F, but is easily injured or killed by frost or prolonged near freezing temperatures. Because of this, Peyote must be brought inside and kept dry should the temperature fall below 5°C / 45°F. If temperatures exceed 49°C / 120°F, frequent watering and use of a shade cloth will offer some protection.

Freaky Cacti sells healthy Lophophora williamsii plants, on a seasonal basis