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San Pedro logs & chunks
Advice about propagation of organically raised San Pedro Cactus
Spring time is when plants surge with growth energy, allowing cuttings to root more quickly. Once you start a San Pedro it will grow year after year until you have a tree sized cluster 10-12 feet tall. I haven't actually measured them over 11' 6", but that is plenty big!
You can root any tip, log or just a chunk. It is very easy if you set up a shade house with bright filtered light. Mix up sand + perlite + garden soil. Or use sterile soil. Of use just sand or just perlite. But sandy, well draining soil is fine. The soil has to be warm, over 60 degrees or so, to stimulate rooting. But avoid soggy, wet soil as that will rot the cutting. It 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.

After rooting in sandy soil (even sterile soil) mix in earth worm castings and 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 grow. 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. You want a 12 foot tall cluster, right?

Why organic?
Because you have to encourage symbiotic microbial life with the roots. Then the plant can really drink up tons of organic nutrients. There are thousands of tiny root hairs that look like a fine fuzz. You want to "inoculate" your plants with beneficial microorganisms. Buy fresh worm castings from a local person who raises earth worms. That is a great way to jump start this. Mix in about a 2 inch thick layer on top. Earth worm castings are alive with microorganism that will set up the right symbiotic relationship with the roots.
Spray'em with fish emulsion.
Since fish emulsion is a good nitrogen source it feeds earth worms, too. They in turn will eat the mulch you lay on top, thus making all the minerals available to the plant roots as they go about their earth worm thing.

Fish emulsion fertilizer is sold in gallon jugs. I both strain it and dilute it to prevent clogs. Sometimes the gallon jug has crusty chunks that clog the sprayer. Or it pours out like mud and needs to be diluted. I strain it through a tea strainer into a plastic 1/2 gallon jar, mix 50% with filtered tap water or distilled water. Shake it up and use this dilute mix in an Ortho "Dial Spray" set to maximum (8 oz.). When the gallon jug is 1/2 full pour in distilled water to refill it and shake it up. Then it flows better.

Now the fun part. Go spray feed your plants. If they have good root systems (see above) you can feed them this way every couple of weeks in the summer and they will grow rapidly. Any excess fish emulsion will be eaten by the earth worms.


Ortho Dial N Spray

See this very old, woody chunk?
Instead of tossing it I placed it in potting soil to see what it would do. That was last fall. About October, 2004. Now in February I see a bud forming. Cool!

A year from now it will have a 12" tip growing on it.
 

(below) This 6" chunk has a heavy wood core. That means it was from the bottom of an old plant. The wood grew thick and strong to support the heavy upper limbs. Notice the woody side branch that I sawed off. This ugly looking chunk still has Life Force energy and sent out roots last fall.
See all the roots hanging over the pot? This nasty looking old chunk will bud and grow an entire new plant from itself. I'll show you next year.


Half way up
you can see scars across several ribs. That is sunburn from direct sunlight overheating it before it had a sufficient root system (could not replace the water loss). I caught it in time and protected the plant from further damage.

Move cuttings into full sunlight gradually. It is normal practice with garden plants to "harden them off" first.

San Pedro will turn yellow in full sun. The nicest, deepest green looking plants are protected by 30% shade fabric, or given partial shade from nearby shade trees, or from their own limbs that block the sun.

This piece could now be planted into the earth. It has a nice root system to support the tip, and will grow pups from itself to become a new cluster of tips.

The point is not to judge a cutting by how it looks; once rooted it will grow blemish tips until it becomes a massive cluster.
Too ugly to sell
(right) This log was so ugly from scars and blemished I couldn't sell it on ebay. It had been rubbed back and forth by a nearby column and lost all its spines along this side.

See the little bud forming on top, up from the middle of my thumb? Yup! That will grow into a new tip. Then I can cut this log in half and leave the bottom part, rooted by then, to re-bud. I'll root the top piece with it's new tip and have two plants.

This is how you multiply specimens. Just keep rooting new tips that they produce.

20042014 By Verne & the furry Angels. All rights reserved for eternity.  Contact: raccoony@sacredcactus.com