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Rooting & supporting big cuttings
Cut & heal
Cut the piece you want to root with a clean knife. Place cutting in a moderately cool, dry, shady location to allow the base to form a scab. This will take 2-3 weeks.

An electric fan can help dehydrate the end in 24 hours, then let it rest for a couple of weeks. You just can't put a freshly cut end in soil or it will get infected with fungus or bacteria spores that are everywhere.

Sterile rooting medium NONSENSE!
Don't do it! Do not try to use a sterile medium like perlite, sand, etc. The "experts say" you can use sand or vermiculite as a rooting medium. WRONG! I've witnessed it failing and photos from customers, too.

Healthy soil contains beneficial bacteria.

Rot is NOT from soil bacteria unless you made some really bad stinky (anerobic) compost. Good compost is sweet smelling humus; the black stuff you find on a forest floor called "leaf mold" - it has good bacteria.
potting soil for rooting san pedro cactus cuttings
Use potting soil
You can mix it yourself as I show you, or just buy a bag of cactus mix potting soil. Easy! You may buy a bag of cactus mix potting soil at a garden center/Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.

Rot is from too much water - you should not water a cutting until it has roots. Don't use damp potting soil. And don't tamp down the soil - you want it lightly set in the soil to allow air circulation. Rot can form in damp, anerobic (no oxygen) conditions.
rooting san pedro cactus in soil mix

Set cutting vertically in a container of soil. Don't pack down the soil - keep it light and fluffy to allow air to get around the base where it was cut.

• Set cuttings in a warm shaded place. Avoid direct sun or they can get sunburned because they don't have roots to pull in water tand control their temperature.

Gently mist the soil with a small amount of water--it doesn't have to be "bone dry" - but don't soak it either.

Never water a cutting without roots!
It cannot drink through the skin. Wait for weeks to a month or longer and when you do, water it very lightly with a misting bottle. If you water it like a plant before it roots --
it will rot.


The trick to rooting is to stress the cutting into forming roots. It has to have warm soil and bright daylight but not direct burning sun. If it is too cold, too little light--it has no need to form roots and will slow its metabolism way down (go sort of dormant).

You can't root cuttings in winter or cool weather unless you heat the soil and provide bright light. I never have had to do that.


When roots start to form, water very lightly.
Wait until  the soil feels dry when you stick your finger into it before watering again. After about 4 to 6 weeks, gently lift the cactus see if it has roots yet. If rooting has not occurred, rebury it and check again in two weeks.

It can take many weeks or months to root a cutting. Variables such as the time of year, local temperature and duration of sunlight, etc. are all factors.

Keep the cutting warm because that always stimulates rooting.

Avoid direct sunlight

In tune with nature! Cuttings can sometimes root in only a few  weeks in spring and early summer if all conditions are ideal.


When the cutting has roots (congratulations!) increase watering and when it shows signs of growing give a bit of fertilizer.

When the roots form a substantial root-ball you may transplant it into a larger container with a compost rich, well draining soil mix. I use 50% large size perlite. That is called #3 and may be hard to find. The tiny perlite at Lowes is really for seedlings.

checking for roots on a san pedro cactus cutting
Checking roots on a small tip
san pedro cactus tip cutting has a small root


Supporting a large cutting (below) this cutting is named Jules Verne

S
hort tip vs tall

If you root a tip 6 to 12 inches tall it will easily stand up. But when rooting 18" to 36" tips support must be provided. Shown at right is a 24 inch tip held with twine between redwood poles.

One way to hold up a tip
Garden stakes made of 1 inch square, 6 foot long redwood are commonly sold for use in vegetable gardening. At right are two such pieces used as supports. Deck screws, 1" long, are driven through the outside of the pot into the redwood.

Perlite potting soil

Prepared 50% perlite with 50% garden soil works for me. The pot at right was filled about 2/3 of the way, the tip set on in it, then more mix added so that the tip sets about 3 inches deep. The buried end will sense that it is underground and in time sprout root buds to search for water.


Garden twine
In the picture garden twine was used to tension the two poles. Doing so pressed gently yet firmly enough to hold the tip in position.


Miracle Tie
Or use this product called "Miracle garden tie". It is a nicely soft, stretchy, but tough plastic ribbon.


More information and advice:
Trichocereus rooting secrets


How long does it take to root a cutting?
Depends on soil temperature
Gardening is such hard intellectual effort sometimes; mix dirt, fill pots, stick in cuttings.
This cutting has been in soil since October without rooting. Why? Because it was too cold. Notice how healthy it looks. It just went dormant for the winter and would not root in cold soil. It never needed water because its stoma (breathing pores) open at night to get CO2 and H20. It never rotted because I kept it in dry soil. But now its ready to rocket! Spring will break that dormancy as the sun shines longer every day and the soil warms up.
See our friend? We put him back in soil and will check
on him next month. I'll bet he has some root buds by then.
The soil needs to be warm, over 60 degrees or so (I guess), to stimulate rooting. Spring time weather is fine for this unless you live in a cold place; but this is all standard gardening knowledge. You can't get vegetable seeds to germinate in cold soil either. To start tomatoes you usually use a soil heating pad, or I've even used cables you lay in the dirt (for a greenhouse). Most vegetables require 60 to 70 degrees and I guess rooting a cactus isn't much different temperature wise.

You can certainly start rooting your cuttings in the house because that is warm. Here in California I can root cuttings outdoors from Spring all through the Summer. By September they slow down and go dormant around October when it cools off.

Soil mix
You can root in 100% sand if you like. Even 100% vermiculite--but I have not tried it. I just use 50% soil and perlite. You want to avoid wet, soggy soil as that will rot the cutting. Your cutting does not need water to root! No water. Got it? Its a cactus. It breaths through its stoma (pores) at night to get CO2 and water vapor. Watering a cutting is dumb--it has no roots to absorb the moisture. But the soil can be a bit damp; it does not have to be "bone dry". Don't obsess. Nature will go into automatic mode and root it for you. Often you find stuff grows best if you leave it alone.

Check every month for roots
After rooting in sandy soil put it in a bigger container and I recommend you mix in earth worm castings and/or real organic compost (buy it from a local organic gardener--do not use the garbage they sell at Home Depot!).

Big Pots=Big plants
The larger the pot the larger the root system will be. The more roots, the faster the plant will develop. To get large root systems you need rich, organic soil that is easy for roots to grow in. It should have lots of sand or perlite so it does not compact and cut off air & water. Thick clay soils are bad, but can be mixed with 50% sand and perlite to become OK. If you grow in a large container always go with 50% perlite to help avoid soil compaction (hard soil).

San Pedro wants to grow to tree size unless you restrict the roots in a pot. You know how Bonsai works? To achieve huge plants you need to put them in the earth so the roots can grow as large as they wish. Dig a big hole and back fill it with mixed sand, perlite, and compost. Then top mulch your San Pedro continuously with at least 2" of organic compost. Get earth worms living in the soil around the San Pedro.


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