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San Pedro is one of the best choices for a landscaping cactus

1) Fastest growing, spreading column like specimens. In a few years you can have towering tree size plants where other varieties of cactus would take decades to reach that size.

2) Safe to use around pets and children. The small spines (thorns to most people) are virtually harmless. Varieties such as barrel cactus, prickly pears, etc. can seriously injure a child or dog.

3) Large, beautiful, fragrant flowers. A large stand of San Pedro can flower with so much spectacle that people will stop to take photos.

4) Cold hardy. Unlike many succulents that can be damaged by frost, San Pedro will be uninjured by temperatures in the low 20s.

5) Easy to grow and propagate. One established you can take cuttings and root them in sandy soil. That way you can speed up landscaping an entire property line, or driveway for an impressive southwestern decor.
Some people may be concerned that San Pedro contain trace amounts of poisonous alkaloids including mescaline. However, this is a natural aspect of many cactus—not just San Pedro! There are dozens of other such plants. Nature produces these bitter tasting substances to prevent insects & animals from eating them. I have never seen insect damage and rarely any rodent damage to San Pedro.

Why they are legal
Trace amounts of poisonous alkaloids do not concern lawmakers. Think of this: Orange juice and many other fruit juices will naturally contain about 1/2 of 1% alcohol. Yet there is no worry that such trace amounts will harm anyone. You do not have to be 21 to buy orange juice. Only people who concentrate alcohol, like moon shiners, are breaking the law.

So enjoy this amazing landscaping plant! Once you have your own huge stand of San Pedro you will find it to be a source of wonder and mystery. You can easily make new plants each season to give to friends. They are the most rewarding of all cactus to own.
General info

Bare root versus fresh cut

You do not need San Pedro pre-rooted for you because this is the easiest plant in the world to grow. San Pedro will self-root into dry soil. I have seen cut sections survive only on stored energy and transpired moisture (they open their stoma at night) for months.
Smart survivor
As my pictures show you can throw pieces in the weeds and they will use the plant energy inside the section to sprout vertically and root themselves without your help. The only thing bad you can do is waterlog them (no drainage—planting in soggy soil).

No roots, yet it survived for 8 months in the weeds with enough energy to grow two branch buds. This is proof that cactus suck in water & CO2 through their pores (stoma) at night. They store the CO2 to use in photosynthesis during the daylight hours.


If you get freezing temperatures down to below about 28 degrees the tips may turn black and die. No big deal—the surviving column will simply grow around the dead tip by budding 2 or 3 new tips! I know this because one year we had a rare freezing for 3 days when it went to 26 degrees at night. All my plants survived but a few had frozen tips that turned black, then they budded branches in the Spring and kept growing. With good soil, fertilizer and water these will double in size yearly. I am not exaggerating. I have seen a 24" plant grow 12" and sprout a 12" side branch in one year. The stand (group of plants) you see are controlled—I have had to thin them. They are a really prolific species.

 
Last year's 36" tips grew 1-foot taller by April. In the SF Bay Area they grow in the winter during the rainy season. There is a visible winter growth spurt. (above) Stumps quickly grow new limbs. These were harvested for moving to a new growing location.
Little puppies rooting in a filtered light nursery. Do not put cuttings in full sun. How would you like to be left out in the sun without any way to drink water? No roots--can't drink. Filtered light is provided here by two layers of tyvek row cover fabric on a wood frame above. This reduces the stress while the plant gets a root system going.
Sometimes the new growth has a bluish cast to it. This is a plant wax that rubs off with your finger tip.
The emerald green occurs from less than full sun--such as filtered light from trees. Full, 100% sun will
give the side facing south a yellow cast. And if the column is blocked from light they turn white. When
a column has ground vegetation covering it, or even a fellow column, it can develop a permanent tan
colored skin.
From a pot of five 18" tips in 1989 to this thicket that I have had to thin several times—now over 11 feet tall.

Notice the prolific flower tufts which now contain seeds. The base of the limbs are as thick as a man's leg. I should re-photograph this with a person in the picture. For now let the step ladder and 6' fence give you an idea of size.

As you can tell from the pictures I have been growing this species for many years. My family of plants have all been propagated from huge sections that were broken off the mother plants near Watsonville, CA during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The grower, a friend who knew my special love for this herbal plant, gave me about 100 linear feet of limbs snapped off when the ground shook so hard that 10-12 foot high tips were snapped.
 

I planted 5 San Pedro tips in a 1/2 whiskey barrel. Latter this was transferred into the ground--now that group is nearly 12 feet tall and flowers in prolific waves several times a year. Some of my other plants are from the same mother group but were propagated before the quake. That dates my cuttings back at least 14 years from a San Pedro mother stand planted in the early 1970's.

The flowers are a special treat--I pick tubs of them, pack several together in a 1-2 quart plastic storage thing and half fill with water. They only last about a day, sometimes two, but during that short time the fragrance is intensely flowery-sweet like gardenias. They are placed in the house and especially in the bedroom for night dreams.
Shady is best
 
They grow darker in a bit a shade. Full sun makes them yellowish.

Too much sun
These are a bit yellow from too much sun exposure. Cuttings become normal when planted in less light.
BOOK REVIEW

"(this book)...has no authoritative merit...we will attempt to paint a nice picture of the confusion..."

Trout's Notes on San Pedro & Related Trichocereus species

"...a taxonomic analog of the Sargasso Sea."
When I learned that this book was being published I wrote to obtain the wholesale prices. But after receiving an evaluation copy I realized I could never sell or otherwise recommend it. I won't try to profit from something I don't believe in.

First I discovered that the PayPal payment system to purchase online was never set up despite a promise to fix it "this coming week". Finally I sent a check but the publisher held it for a month before shipping. When my copy arrived the box was crushed with the cover bent in half. The USPS had attached a label stating it "arrived in damaged condition." Then I looked between the covers. More...

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