Saturday, April 05, 2008

Starting Pelecyphora and Lophophora from seed, 2008

Yesterday I started this year’s first batch of seed. I’m usally sowing my cactus seeds at the beginning of March, but I’ve been otherwise occupied so I had to start a bit later than usual. 30 seeds each of the following species were sown:

  • Lophophora williamsii (SB 418; Presidio County, Texas)
  • Pelecyphora aselliformis (MMR 111.1; El Pedernal, San Luis Potosí, Mexico)

Lophophora williamsii, Shafter, Presidio County, Texas
Lophophora williamsii, Shafter, Presidio County, Texas (photo from

I’ve been looking for L. williamsii originating from the Trans-Pecos region of Texas for a while, so I was pretty exited to find the SB418 seeds from Presidio County, Texas. I’m looking forward to see how these plants develop (and also bought a batch of these seeds to start in my coldhouse).

Pelecyphora aselliformis in habitat
Pelecyphora aselliformis in habitat (photo from

Pelecyphora aselliformis is a first for me. I’ve always wanted to grow this distinctive species but for some reason never got around to it until now.

The seeds were started as described in the post on growing cactus from seeds and are bought from Jan Martin Jecminek.

Most of the seeds I’m growing this year have been selected for their (alleged;-) cold hardiness and will be sown later in my unheated greenhouse.

Update - April 12, 2008
Prompted by Patrick's comment I decided to include more detailed information on how the germination progresses. 5 days after sowing the seeds one Lophophora and 8 Pelecyphora seedlings had germinated (L=1/P=8). After 6 days the numbers were L=6/P=14, after 7 days L=13/P=17, and today (day 8) L=15/P=20. This means that after 8 days the germination rates for the Lophophora and Pelecyphora seeds are respectively 50% and 67%.

Update - April 25, 2008
April 19 the germination numbers were L=16/P=24, on April 22 the Lophophora germination count had risen to 19, and today April 25 the counts still are L=19/P=24. So after approximately 3 weeks the germination rates for the Lophophora and Pelecyphora seeds are respectively 63% and 80%. It should be mentioned that one of the Lophophora seedlings died off but is still included in the germination count (as it actually started growing but didn't make it from there).


  1. Hi,

    I recently started a batch of Lophophora seedlings using the sealed bag technique you describe. Rather than mix my own soil I used a pre-packaged "cactus soil" - which the package says is a mix of compost, perlite and sand. It has been 2 weeks now (I planted on March 22nd) - and I am noticing a fairly low rate of germination. I planted 3 trays with about 35 seeds in each and I'm only seeing about 5 sprouts per tray. The only other thing I can think of is that I live in Toronto, and my house this time of year is usually between 17-18 degrees. Would you normally expect to see more sprouts than this or does it usually just take longer?

    Thank you!

  2. Patrick, I would expect the majority of the viable seeds to germinate within the first 2-4 weeks. That being said you might still see a few late-comers after this period. I've had Lophophora germination rates everywhere between 20% and 100% depending on the source of the seeds. The low temperature might be a problem though. I'm usually germinating my seeds at room temperature with a bit of bottom heat from a radiator - this year I started the seeds in a windowsill with no other heat sources than the bleak Danish sun, so my current conditions seem very similar to yours. I'll keep you posted on how my seedlings progress.

  3. Hi,

    Thank you for your feedback. I have posted some photos on the google group for this blog of my seedlings. I might give it a try again and this time order my seeds from the Jan Martin Jecminek site - I imagine that it is still early enough in the year to try another batch. The seed pricing info on that site confuses my simple brain. If I understand correctly the prices are in CHZ and if I convert them to euros they should cost about 0.2 - 0.8 euros for 10 seeds plus shipping and handling (which seems too cheap and makes me think I got something wrong) - has this been your experience? which ones do you typically order? sorry for all the questions...I'm still trying to figure this all out.

  4. Yes, it should be early enough for you to order more seeds and start another batch - I'm starting my coldhouse grown seeds in a month or two. Jan's prices are in CZK (Czech Republic Koruny) - I usually use the currency converter at to get the prices in EUR. I prefer seeds from known localities and like the northerly, more cold hardy varieties so good choices for me would be Lophophora williamsii MMR 89, El Oso, Coahuila (20 CZK ~ 0.80 EUR for 10 seeds) and L. williamsii SB 418, Presidio County, Texas (58 CZK ~ 2.3 EUR). These prices are, as you indicate, very reasonable. That's why I prefer doing business with cactus enthusiasts instead of dealing with "ethnobotanical outfits" selling random seeds without locality information at way too high prices ;-)


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