How to graft Lophophora

What is grafting?

You can join two plants together to grow as one using the technique of grafting. This method can improve the growth and health of a plant, and can assist in propagating a desirable form or cultivar. The Lophophora cactus, also known as the peyote, can benefit from grafting. In this blog, we will discuss how to graft Lophophora and why it is useful to do so.

Why should you graft the Lophophora cactus?

Lophophora is a slow-growing genus of cacti native to northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The First Nations People of this area have used peyote in their traditional medicine for centuries. It currently faces decline in wild populations due to poaching and habitat destruction. Grafting can help preserve this rare cactus by increasing the cultivated population, thereby reducing demand for wild plants.

Grafting Lophophora offers several benefits, such as increasing the rate of growth and overall health of the plant. As a slow-growing plant, it can take many years for it to reach maturity. A faster-growing cactus species, such as the Trichocereus pachanoi (San Pedro cactus) is a prime selection for grafting. Using this plant as rootstock will significantly increase the growth rate of a peyote. In the case of species that are normally single stemmed, such as Lophophora williamsii v. cardona, grafting can encourage the production of offsets. This is beneficial for commercial growers and hobbyists alike.

Grafting can also make it easier to propagate a desirable form or cultivar. In particular, the variegated form of Lophophora williamsii v. caespitosa is often grafted in order to encourage it to produce more offsets. These offsets are then carefully removed and replanted in their own pots.

Preparing the rootstock for grafting

The process of grafting Lophophora is relatively simple, but does have a slight learning curve. First, select the cactus that you are going to use as the rootstock. We recommend Trichocereus, Hylocereus, Myrtillocereus or Pereskiopsis. Using a clean, sharp knife, prepare the rootstock by cutting off the top to create a flat surface. Grafting is more successful if you cut close to the top of the plant, and not the base. We only cut close to the base in this tutorial, as the San Pedro cactus we used was quite tall. If the first cut was somewhat skew, don’t hesitate to cut off a bit more of the rootstock to make an even surface.

You will notice that there is a circular pattern in the middle of the stem. The cactus you are grafting will also have one. This structure is a vascular bundle, and transports nutrients from the roots of the plant and carries it throughout the stem. Colloquially, this structure is called a ‘scion’. Take note of the location of the vascular bundle, as it will be important later in the grafting process.

Preparing the Lophophora for grafting

Before continuing, clean the knife again. Remove the base of the Lophophora by cutting just below the ‘head’ of the plant. Now align the vascular bundle of the rootstock and Lophophora, and firmly place the cut surfaces of each plant together. After this, it is important to secure the grafted plant onto the rootstock. We used normal tape and a piece of plastic to protect the plant, but you can also use grafting tape or rubber bands to hold it in place.

Place the newly grafted plant in a warm, dry location for about two weeks until the cacti fuse together. You can then remove the tape or rubber bands from the plant. If the grafting process was successful, you can treat it like a normal cactus. The rootstock will provide the necessary nutrients and water to the grafted Lophophora.

The leftovers

After this whole process, you will be left with the top of the rootstock as well as the base of the grafted peyote. Both of these can be salvaged and replanted. For the rootstock, simply dry it for two weeks before replanting it. The base of the peyote can be immediately replanted, and may produce plentiful pups if given time. Make sure that the cut surface is 1-2cm about the soil, otherwise it will rot.

Finally, do not be despondent if your first attempt was not successful. Not all plants accept the grafting process. If you want to practice before cutting up your valuable peyote, we recommend grafting cheaper plants such as Mammillaria until you get the hang of it and learning how to graft Lophophora.

- Chanique R

Had an amazing experience. My plant arrived the next day, and it was packaged so beautifully! Thank you so much for my new little Bear Paw plant!

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