Home | Info | Propagation | Soil & tools | Potting | Rooting | Logs | Shade | Containers | Landscaping

Potting 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Roots | Repotting a Peruvian Torch seedling
Potting & rooting
I have never known a section not to root unless it was never watered or so over watered it rotted. In neither case did the cactus die. You just start watering in the first case and cut off the rot in the second. When not watered enough they will "tell you" by sucking in their ribs to look like they are starving to death (hint, hint!) and if the planted end rotted I simply cut the rot off and replanted in soil with better drainage (instead of mud, duh!). It rooted OK then.

I have never used any rooting hormone on these. That will speed up rooting, but I know from 15 years of growing this species it is not needed. They always root themselves as long as there is at least a minimal amount of ground moisture. In fact, too much water can rot an un-rooted section—so be careful.
 1) freshly cut
 2) healed (dry)
Specimens are propagated by simply cutting a tip and allowing the cut end to heal over, or dry out. This takes two weeks normally in the shade. The cut piece should always be kept cool and shaded. When the cut is dry and "sucks in" it is ready to plant with little risk of infection.
 3) compost / sand /perlite
 4) staked (you're done!)
5) 5 to 6 weeks = roots!

Propagation tips

• Cut with a sterilized knife (isopropyl or bleach)
• Cut ends have to dry and "heal" before planting. (A fresh cut section immediately placed in wet dirt will probably rot) The cut will become dry like paper, and suck inward—then it is ready.
• You may use sterilized soil and apply rooting hormone for best professional results, but this is not necessary.
• Do not water for 1 or 2 weeks after potting. Let the section get used to the dirt and begin to search for water on its own by budding roots. Ribs will suck inward and become thin as the specimen uses up its internal resources, when the ribs begin to fatten up you know you have a good root system.
• When the ribs fatten from water uptake and you see new growth at the tip that is the same diameter as the main column you have a fully rooted, healthy new plant.
Short pieces, up to 12 inches, can be rooted by simply pushing down into sandy soil. Plant about 2 to 3 inches deep. But the piece will get knocked over unless you have a plant nursery. I prefer to stake them with 1" square redwood garden stakes as shown here.

Even larger sections can be rooted directly in the ground. Just prepare the soil by mixing in compost, sand and / or perlite to improve drainage. Then support the section with stakes driven next to it in the ground. Using this technique I have commonly started 4 foot tall sections directly in the ground.

PS Don't forget to feed your plants when they have good root system. They love a top dressing or mulch made from rich compost. Water with Miracle Grow, and/or fish emulsion/liquid kelp, etc.—as you would garden vegetables—to increase growth. I know this works fine as I grew for the local farmers market for years and treated the San Pedro to the same fertilizers as the tomatoes. They love to be fed. Organic fertilizers are fine, but many are slow release rock powders. If there is enough compost present around roots (compost is actually humus) the plant can't tell the difference between a phosphorus ion from Miracle Grow versus a phosphorus ion from rock phosphate. Keep in mind that plants understand biochemistry, not necessarily someone's "organic political philosophy"...Plants love light, water, fertilizer, healthy soil and good drainage. If they look unhappy they are trying to tell you something so tune in and learn from them.

© 2004—2014 By Verne & the furry Angels. All rights reserved for eternity.  Contact: raccoony@sacredcactus.com