and Growing Tips
Germination of Lophophora species
Germinating seed of the Lophophora genus is quite
easy, but requires time, dedication and patience. Growing
cacti from seed will teach you patience like no other
plant. Regular attention is required if seedlings are
to be raised to adult stage successfully.
When germinating any seed, there are several
critical factors: growing medium, air, moisture, light
and temperature. earthalchemy has several years experience
in germinating the Lophophora species, and although there
are many different methods, each yielding varying success
rates, discussion will be restricted to the method I have
found to yield the best germination rates.
Coarse sharp sand serves best as a growing medium for
Lophophora seedlings. From germination, the seedlings
can be grown on in the sand, so long as fertiliser is
included at 1/10 concentration when watering. Due to the
non-porous nature of coarse sharp sand, watering is required
regularly, every one or two days depending on temperature.
Fill seed-raising trays or pots (at least 1 1/2 inches
deep) with coarse sharp sand. Sow seed on surface, and
gently push in to a depth of twice the seed diametre with
a pointed object. Wooden kebab skewers work well.
Water in well by misting heavily with a garden spray bottle.
Do not use a direct stream of water, as this will dislodge
the seeds and disturb the growing medium. If seeds are
pushed too deep into the medium, they may germinate and
run out of nutrients before they break the surface and
are exposed to light. Once germination occurs, misting
should be conducted with fertiliser (Seaweed extract is
good) at 1/10th strength.
Lophophora species germinate best at temperatures around
25-30 degrees Celsius. I have had excellent germination
rates at temperatures as high as 32 deg C. However, I
cycle heating so that for 16 hours daytime temperature
is maintained, and then heating and light is turned off
for the remainder of the day.
Normal flouroescent tubes provide ample lighting for germinating
Lophophora seeds. Raise seed trays to sit 4 or 5 inches
from the lights. As mentioned previously, I cycle lights
to be switched off for 8 hours per day, synchronised with
heating. If using household flouroescent tubes, they should
be replaced every three months, as I am told that the
spectrum required by plants decreases significantly over
The majority of seed should germinate within 1-2 weeks.
However, further germinations may occur sporadically after
Ok, you may be wondering now how you're going to manage
to control heating and temperature without breaking the
bank. It's easy. All that's required is:
2 foot fishtank
Tack-type cable clips
The cheapest way to obtain a heating cable
is to disembowell an electric blanket. The other materials
can be sourced from a hardware supply house, with the
exception of the thermostat which will cost you a fortune
from a hydroponic store. But it's worth it if you can
afford it. Old fishtanks can sometimes be found lying
around houses with fish imprisoned within. Free the fish.
That tank has a higher purpose.
* Cut insulating board to fit the bottom
of the tank
* Lay out heating cable along the board,
in a backwards-and-forwards pattern, making sure you leave
enough slack to reach to the top of the tank and allow
you to plug the cable in to power
* Fix the cable to the board with the cable
* Fit the board to the bottom of the tank,
cable-side up, and cover with an inch or so of gravel
* Connect the cable and light to power,
with the timer intercepting. You can now set the timer
to switch both the light and heat on in the mornings and
off at night.
* The thermostat control can be connected
between the heating cable and the timer, enabling heating
to be switched off when the desired temperature is acheived.
This is not intended to be either a professional,
nor complete, approach to germinating Lophophora seed.
However, it should make Lophophora propagation on a mass
scale possible for even the most under-resourced grower.
The following links provide further information on growing
cacti from seed.