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How to Germinate Lophophora Williamsii Seeds

Peyote seeds are not difficult to germinate if you follow these simple steps:

Choosing a Container: Ideally you want a shallow container with a clear plastic covering. Many take-out containers fit this description and will make excellent tiny greenhouses for your vulnerable young plants. (This is known as ‘take-away tek’). Be sure to scrub your containers very clean and add drainage holes at the bottom for water to escape. In our experience these types of containers work better than covering a pot with clear plastic wrap.

1 – Fill your seed tray or small pot with moistened, sterilized potting soil mix (sterilize using boiling water, 3% hydrogen peroxide or a microwave) and flatten the mix down gently. Any quality seedling mix from your local home and garden center will do (such as PRO-MIX).

You want a flat, even surface so pick out any large pieces of bark or Perlite, etc. We like to sift our seedling starter mix through a 1/8″ screen, but it’s not necessary.

Many people (including us) also use unsterilized soil with good success. A vast array of media will work for sprouting, from sand and pure mineral mixes to compost. As long as your soil is relatively clean and uncontaminated, the particles are small and you keep on top of mold/algae/pests, you’ll be fine. The advantage to using unsterilized soil is that the established beneficial microbes/mycorrhizal fungi in the soil will not be killed off.

2 – Moisten your media so that it is damp, but not wet. Allow it to drain and cool completely (if using boiling water). Soil should be moist but not saturated. If you can squeeze it and water comes out, it’s too wet.

3 – Sprinkle seeds evenly over the starting mix, then gently press seeds down using the back of a spoon so they are in good contact with the medium. Peyote requires light to sprout so DO NOT bury the seeds. Seeds can be safely misted with pure 3% hydrogen peroxide to encourage sprouting. This will increase your germination rate and help sterilize the top surface of the soil if you haven’t done so already.

4 – Cover your container with a clear plastic cover, or clear plastic wrap. You’ll want to keep the humidity high for quite some time. Feel free to open the cover to check on your seeds a couple of times a day. The fresh air has been shown to be beneficial for sprouting. Just don’t forget to replace it when you’re done.

5 – Place under grow lights or in bright, indirect light. Seedlings in the wild usually grow in the shade of other plants, so do not require very much light. Fluorescent or LED lighting works very well. Never place them in direct sunlight as this could scorch your young plants. Artificial lighting in a 12 hour on 12 off cycle is perfect.

Warmth is important, and temperatures should ideally reach 26C (80F) to 43C (109F) during the day, and must dip below 26C at night for best germination results. The cool/warm cycle mimics conditions in their natural habitat. A seedling heat mat turned off at night works well.

6 – Most seeds should germinate within 2 to 14 days but some can take up to a month or more.

In an ideal setup, water should not be needed for months. As long as you see condensation on your plastic you’re good. If seed trays begin to dry out, use a spray bottle to mist the surface.

7 – When seedlings are about four to six months old, you can begin acclimatizing them to lower humidity by lifting tray covers for ever lengthening periods or poking holes in the plastic. Start off with one or two holes, wait a few days then poke a few more until they are acclimated.

8 – Keep seedlings in indirect sunlight for about six months, and then slowly let them have more light. Seedlings should have a lush green color if the light levels are right. If the epidermis (skin) turns red it means they are getting too much light. If so, raise the lights or add shade. If they begin to stretch out or “etiolate”, they need more light. Healthy baby peyotes look like tiny, verdant green round balls.

9- Water your seedlings only when the soil has been totally dry for at least 2-3 days. Keep them warm and err on the side of underwatering. Peyote can take a lot of drying out but will not tolerate overwatering, especially when young.

You can begin to fertilize very lightly with a low-nitrogen fertilizer such as fish emulsion, at about 1/4 the recommended strength. If you do not see consistent growth, your conditions may have caused your peyotes to turn dormant. Cut way back on water and stop fertilizing. Offer them more warmth and light to get them back on track.

10 – Don’t rush to repot your seedlings. Lophophora enjoys the company of others, so wait until they are really fighting for room before potting them up.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments.

Happy Growing!

8 thoughts on “How to Germinate Lophophora Williamsii Seeds

  1. Awesome thank you! I’ve germinated LW for the first time using this guide. So far I’ve got a 50 out of 100 seeds germination rate but every day another pops out , so I’m optimistic. I’m going to be detailed in this comment in case the information is helpful to someone else .

    I used coarse vermiculite soaked with tap water and a few drops of superthrive, then packed tightly into aluminum mini-meatloaf pans with plastic covers from the grocery store. I then sprayed the entire surface with a mist of 3% peroxide. I found that first soaking the seeds in warm water for 30 minutes sped up germ time. (My first 10 were not soaked, then a week later I soaked the remainder of my seeds and sewed them separately.)

    During daytime I use a heat mat with a control unit set to 92F, with the probe going thru a tiny hole in the plastic lid, penetrating into the surface of the vermiculite. A great way to measure substrate temp is with an inexpensive lazer thermometer from amazon. I use a cheap 4’ led shop light for light , placed about 8” above the top of the lids. Due to my work schedule they often get a 16on/8 off light schedule, and only started to turn reddish when I added more than one light for a day. The color disappeared within a couple days after the light was removed

    At night I place them in a small room with a window unit set to 65F, and I’ve been placing them in a fridge every morning before work for 2 hours to drop the temp even further; my thought is to mimic the low temps of a desert climate before sunrise, when things get hot fast. Overkill perhaps, but I wanted to do all I could to be successful.

    1. I used vermiculite instead of soil or coco coir to prevent issues with mold or algae. Since it’s a mineral it can’t mold. I’m sure sand would be awesome also.

  2. I’ve successfully germinated L.williamsii twice, but I gave the the better ones to friends, expecting the ones we kept would catch up. All was going well, but then we moved house. They are not happy at all. So I plan to germinate a third time, but using your advice.

    To anyone with any horticultural knowledge, your techniques make the most sense. Thank you for explaining the reasoning behind your approach. We’re not used to germinating succulents in my country, but we kind of pride ourselves on growing things from seed that is ‘challenging’. I just didn’t then know how to care for seedlings, likely pricking out from the group way too early in the mistaken belief that seedlings need space.

    So, thank you verybmuch for this.

  3. Not sure if anyone will see or answer this as there hasn’t been a post for some time… I’ve been having a REALLY hard time getting lophophora seeds to germinate. I’m currently going through a second trial of attempting to germinate a pack of 30 seeds. And I am seeing… nothing. It’s been about a month. The container is on a seedling heat mat and there is additionally a small space heater nearby (set to 70 degrees F) as this is in my basement which isn’t the warmest. There is plenty of moisture and 12 hrs of light a day. For a week or so I put the container on the ground (concrete that’s moderately cool/cold at night) to shock the seeds into life as I’ve read here and elsewhere that this is necessary. Do you have any hints, tips, advice? I’m starting to get real discouraged.

  4. When you say, “keep on top of mold/algae/pests”, how is that done best?
    At what point is it safe to open it up and work on them?

    1. Monitor your seedlings regularly. If you see them being overtaken by mold or algae, you may need to prick them out and repot them. A 1.5% H202 spray will help take care of mold. If you see pests, a castile soap spray works well. Keep reading, your last question is answered in the post 🙂

  5. But how many seeds do I put in the pot? Because I have 100 seeds and surely I don’t put that many

    1. It depends on the size of your pot. Lophophora seeds can be quite crowded as they grow very slowly.

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