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Subject: I like the site, I have a question. / Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2008

Hello, your Trichocereus site was the most informative site I have found yet regarding these wonderful cactus. I don't eat them and have no intention of doing so. I do have a few questions and I don't want to waste your time as I see you don't suffer fools lightly.

I have collected cactus for years. I try to be careful with Latin names but many were taken from friends with no info and while I could try to compare your pictures, could I send a few pictures and get your opinion? I am not looking for a final answer, just direction. I don't care to sell them as I love them and I hate to cut anything, even when folks beg because the unscarred cactus is most beautiful to me. Nothing against the trade, I just want tall plants in my yard. I do want to buy some cactus from you in the spring because I hate plant mysteries. I knew a George Fuller of San Leandro who used to cross this tricho and that and had God knows what but he had HUGE plants, all unlabeled. When he died, someone came in the threw them out and the land was bulldozed. Oh Well.

I inherited a collection from a fellow who died and of course, no labels. I just want to know what the hell they are.
I used to drive by a house in Hayward ca that had an entire yard of some sort of Trichocereus but people said he was tired of answering questions as so many people wanted to eat the damn things so I never approached him.

I now live in the southern part of the San Joaquin near Visalia. My cactus are in the ground and are growing like mad.
Please go easy on me, I don't want to be one of the people who pester you. Andrew

LOW LIGHT = ETIOLATION / December 2008

Hi verne! I bought this Trichocereus Pachanoi from you off on Oct. 6, 2008

I just wanted to let you know how happy I am with not only the health plant
that I recieved, but also the great information on your website trichocereus.com To update you on my baby.

I used a perlite/no clay soil and 1/2 coir mix. I repotted into a real peruvian clay 20"pot.=A0 It has been a little over 2 months and my plant has grown 4 inches!

The pup also grew close to 4 inches! its amazing, I just have it in my bedroom window with very minimal sunlight and constant 65-70degree temp. I though thses were supposed to go dormant this time of year. Cant wait to see what it does this summer! Thanks

Ouch! "Minimal light?" That 4" of growth is not a good sign. It is etiolation.

My Cactus Care handout sheet (shipped with the specimen) has a section about light. It states they need strong light. This is why�your pup is etiolated from low light levels. I only grow outside so cannot advise what to do. Please visit a local plant store. Show them your photos. Many people (I imagine) grow cactus and succulents indoors so there must be information about lighting requirements.

But you may need to buy lights for indoor growing. Here in California I only grow with sunlight. Look at my covered deck where I keep the specimens after they are photographed for sale. They get plenty of light this way. http://trichocereus.com/greenhouse.htm

Stories about indoor growing
Years ago in San Francisco there was a cactus store on Market Street near Van Ness. The floor was sand like a desert. Store fronts on Market had huge glass show windows. That is what provided sunlight plus they had electric lights of some kind. The specimens were magnificent--some the size of a person. They sold a lot to the interior design trade (decorators).

All around the US are chapters of the Cactus & Succulent Society (CSS). I'm no fan of theirs, but there is nothing wrong with them except maybe a lot of serious collectors who strike me as having obvious personality disorders like you find in any group of grown up boys & girls. They have shows where members sell their stuff, win prizes, meet the public, etc. I'd recommend anyone who doesn't live in zone 9 or greater check out the local CSS members for information about indoor growing.

40 years ago I lived in the lower east side of New York City. This guy had a flat in a 6 story walk up, a decrepit old brick tenement. He was a friend of a film school classmate who worked in a rare plant store. The neighborhood was a ghetto, but inside his unit were hundreds of orchids growing under those pink fluorescent plant lights. It was humid as a jungle. He had a Gila monster (illegal to possess) in a cage that scared me in the same way a rattlesnake would have.

It was amazing to be in that crumbling, rotting old lower east side building while inside a tropical heaven. I can imagine one could have an indoor cactus garden anywhere; but I've never seen one.

From: July 2008 An email was blocked at the server due to excessive file size. I found it 5 months later.

RE: What is this cactus?

It is a common Cereus.

For plant identification why not take a cutting, a sample, to your local plant nursery? Ask them.

Please do not send megabyte size photos to me. Try one of those cactus forums where people argue over the proper name for plants. Send them your megabyte size files. That would be cool.


December 12, 2008

Your rooting literature states ths is the dormant season for the cactus and rooting may not be as successful. ok, Can i plant these beautiful girls now? Is it better to keep them stored as they are and plant in say feb or march?


That is an interesting question that I'd like to explain for the benefit of others. I get this question a lot. The thing is that I do it, but need to explain. Here is a page about winter rooting. Winter_rooting

December 09, 2008

Hi Vern, My order arrived today! I am impressed by your excellent shipping preparation. I am very pleased and have already transplanted my new friend. Your site has much good info and I have learned a number of new things. Hope to do business again. Sincerely Dave
December 02, 2008

Vern- I wanted to say thanks for all the work you put into your website. Very informative and great pictures too. My plant arrived today & I am very pleased. Thanks, Mike

October 30


Thanks again for the swift and secure shipment.

The first rooted San Pedro I got form you 13 1/2 months ago has grown 36" here in the Rio Grande Valley. You may quote me on this.

This is my woman holding the point of the scar (for lack of a better word) where it was when we put it in the ground 13 1/2 months ago.

Please feel free to quote me and/or use the picture. I can send a higher res photo if you like.

Location in La Feria, Texas

Thanks, Rich Davis

Thanks Rich! It is a fact that people have sent me email calling me a liar for claiming San Pedro can grow this fast.

Obviously you have learned that with roots in the earth these plants want to become tree sized.

In 2 or 3 more years you'll have a cluster of columns with mass equal to a person.

Thank you so much for sharing your photo of these two special beings.

Also: See the "Fastest Growing Peruvianus"

Subject: Karel Knize / Fri, 12 Sep 2008


I was amused by your webpage description of your experience with dealing with Knize. I agree that he is a terrible businessman and I would like to see his operation shut down.

I ordered plants from him in 2005 and never received nearly the number or species that I ordered. What little I got was entirely mislabeled, evidently so that he could correlate the shipment with his forged CITES document, nor did I get a refund for the plants that I paid for and never received. I should have learned my lesson then.

Recently I thought I would try again and remind him that I would not order unless I got what I paid for. Well, I emailed an order and after a week or so eventually got a reply that he would do better to ship the plants I ordered to someone in Arizona instead. What the hell? Fortunately I did not send him any money.
More about the dangers of sending money to Karel Knize
I have written this guy off and will do my best to warn others before dealing with this crook. I think your webpage pretty much sums up the frustration of dealing with Knize.

Best regards,

Thank you for this latest warning about Karel Knize. In 2007 he sent seed that had zero germination. After all my letters to him demanding he ship after payment, it struck me that he had microwaved the seed before sending. Not one out of 4,000 seeds would germinate. It was clearly a "Screw you Americano!"

My theory is that as people get old some become cranky, alcoholic or cynical, etc. Maybe that person was once a reliable source, had a good reputation, etc. With Karel Knize it is time to stamp his operation "RIPOFF" and just forget about it.

In 2008 I purchased Peruvianus seed he sold to the German supplier. I didn't want to lose my money trying to buy seed from Karel Knize. But even that seed had a germination rate of about 5%. Waste of time & money.

Karel Knize is bad news. I'm not the only one saying that.

Date: Sat, 27 Sep 2008
From: <some guy in Greece>

i this plant was ordered over the internet.i received it wrapped in a piece of paper and planted it in july,temperatures here at about 40 grades celcius then.the soil is a commmon mix with perlite and i put it a clay pot.i am patient,as i has another one that rot ,when i watered it as soon as i had planted it.The one i have now,makes me me think that it won't have time to root,as the winter closes in.It may rain,it may snow or it may be like spring.you never know what the weather will be like in greece.I 've bought a couple of books,but those sites i have come up are of insignificant assistance.Perahaps you can lend a hand??

Thank you very much for what you do

Kind regards,

The problem is that rooting a cutting is, to you, some kind of science experiment. This is a common mistake--an obsession over a single plant taken outside of nature by a person who has never rooted one before.

But in fact, rooting a cutting is a common procedure. In Greece (I have traveled through it on a motorcycle--to Athens, Crete, Corfu, the Peloponnese and Thessaloniki) there are olive groves hundreds of years old. On the island of Corfu I was told that some olive groves were so old they had been planted by the Romans. These were grown by taking cuttings.

Olive trees, apple orchards, etc. are not grown from seed--they are cloned by taking cuttings. These are called "woody" cuttings and require a shady place with frequent misting.

Find plant nurseries that root cactus and varieties of plants from cuttings. Visit some plant growers/sellers. Get out and talk to people. They will show you how to root a cutting.

Many people cannot understand plants by reading on the Internet--but when shown in person by a plant person it all becomes simple.

You sunburned the cutting by leaving it in the sun--it sunburned just as you would burn if left out in full sun. My propagation instructions on this website all stress "Keep out of direct sun or the cutting will get sunburned."

Your photos don't show the roots. Roots are the life givers--the nutrient providers. Roots can take months to form, or may not root until next spring. Plants work on nature's schedule, not ours. Just leave your cutting alone. Forget about it. It knows how to survive all by itself. See also�

Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 / From: "Andrew Alice Brown"

Hi, I just wanted to say I reckon your work and your website are awesome! I've learnt so much from the site about growing these babies, and have gained so much encouragement too! I'd love to be able to do what you do one day.
I'm in New Zealand, quite far away, it's not the warmest here but I still get ok growth. Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome site and the encouragement
Keep up the good work
I love that phrase "Keep up the good work" from the movie Mystery Men.

Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008

It would be appreciated greatly if this could be identified if its just a cereus or a tricho macrogonus. Thank you much.

I see a tag in that pot--the white thing on the left. What does it say? ;)

More seriously--yeah, it sort of does because of the top has a kind of clubby look that resembles mine (grown from seed) at that age.

You know who you bought it from and that they probably said "I grew it from seed" but the question really is (to me) "What seed? Whose seed? How was that seed created (who hand pollinated, etc.) and where are photos of the mature, flowering parents?" No one ever has photos of the parents and authentication of the flowering/hand pollinating.

I prefer to identify mature plants, big specimens and ones that flower. Little ones in 4" pots all sort of look the same like baby humans do. Can you look at photos of children at age 2 and identify the woman who will be a centerfold model? Or the boy who will be a rocket scientist, the one who will be a murderer, the one who will be an athlete?

Of course not. But if you saw their parents, and knew their IQ scores, level of education and financial net worth--you might be able to make some guesses about the kids.

Repot this beauty right now! Give it a lot more soil, send a photo next year, and the year after, etc.
Babies all look alike, only grown ups really show you what they are. This has an odd sort of clubby top that resembles my seed grown ones supposedly "Macrogonus."

From: Troy Daubaras (Australia) / Subject: What is it ? / Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008


Can you please help. After looking through a lot of pictures on your site I am still at a loss to positively identify a torch like cactus that I purchased from a nursery in Australia. At a guess it looks like it could be a young Peruvianus of some sort. It is in great condition and has a real blue colour to it. I have just re potted this one to give it room to grow as it was in a small pot. After looking at your site I am confident that if you cannot help with the identification of this one then no one can! I have attached a close up pic. Thanks for your help...

Cheers, Troy

Troy, it is what the nursery said it was. A nursery sold an un-labeled plant? OK, it is Australia. But blue cactus are common and not even Trichocereus.

Look up Pilosocereus:
And a really blue one from Peru is  Azureocereus:


August 20, 2008

RE: KK242 Peruvianus --one quick question is you say that the spines are always brown. is it possible for the spines as they age and get more towards the bottom of the cactus turn white? or does that mean that it is a phony and no matter what the spines will stay brown no matter how old they are and how far down they are? i know your a busy farmer and get back to me when you have time have a good one. peace and love, kyle

Yes, to answer simply. But there is a lot of spine color variation, subtleties that vary between specimens. P. Torches go brown, white, etc. I even noticed spines on Macrogonus that come out black on one specimen and brown on another--grown from the same seed and sitting next to each other. And they stay that color all the way down. I intend to do a photo essay of spine colors soon.

There is a pretty clear (agreed upon in an official way) KK242 Peruvianus because that is the collection site in Matucana, Peru. It has been a source of Peruvianus for decades. But the Peruvian Torch (as a more generic plant) grows over a wide range in Peru with many trapped in mountain valleys where the seed is probably not being cross pollinated with anything too different.

Look at this way; when Virginia and I motorcycled through Europe we noticed how genetically different the people looked in each country. Those political, cultural boundaries mean that French people really looked French to us when we came from England. In Yugoslavia there were people in an area called Montenegro that were striking in appearance (high foreheads like Boris Karlof in Frankenstein), and in Greece the people looked Greek. I'm not being silly--just trying to make a point about the variations of the Peruvianus, or Peruvian Torch across the region they grow.

With European people I could see how they had been breeding within their own cultures for centuries. English people look very different from Germans. It was actually funny--Germans were big, mature at a young age, the women had hairy legs. English country folk were pasty white, had these thin red veins in the faces, were smaller and more delicate.

If we mixed a cross section of Europeans together in America it would be hard to identify the German, French, Greek, or English. My point is "How detailed do we have to get with spine colors?" Could it be like hair color?

We are not in Peru traveling about from mountain valleys to coastal plains. If we were we could make detailed photos of all these varieties. Instead we grow "T. Peruvianus" seed in America and have to wait years for the mature specimen to manifest itself. Now if we could just take a long journey through Peru examining remote locations where these have been growing for centuries...wow.

I collect beautiful specimens that look right (what gardeners call true to type) and only clone them--never try to cross breed them into hybrids. There are enough mutts in the world as it is. I buy seed from Peru but reserve judgment until those kids grow up. Way up. That time is still years away. Hopefully this effort will produce some reference standards showing distinct traits & differences. Like a red headed Irish person and a jet black haired Italian. Only with cacti.
Official Peruvianus, 70 years ago, brown spines.

Click for original image...

Thank you for the beautiful cacti & information!
Date: Sun, 17 Aug 2008

Hey Raccoony, Cougar & Verne--
My mom grows catnip for me and the four other cats who let her live in our house. My name is Frankie, and I like catnip much better than cactus. I've been "bitten" a few times when trying to use a cactus pot for a litter box. I learned. Now whenever I smell or see cactus, I hiss at it and stay clear.

My dad grew up and lived in Southern California for the first 30+ years of his life, and spent a lot of time in the desert. He LOVES cacti! He and my mom have been married for 15 years, and they tell me that there has always been a column or two of cactus growing somewhere around the house. I don't understand the fascination, but my dad says it has something to do with his Native American heritage.

My dad has been in Iraq for two years. He will be home pretty soon, and mom wants there to be some new cacti waiting for him. Since she grew up in New England, she wasn't raised with cacti. She is learning though--she even belongs to the local Cactus Society--my dad is really proud of her since his cacti have thrived while he's been away. It's not easy to grow cacti in the delta!

My mom raises Asian ratsnakes, bull and gopher snakes, and small australian pythons. So she has a room dedicated to the scaly ones and cacti. Fortunately, cacti and these snakes have similar tastes in terms of heat and humidity. She says that the chi in there is strong & nourishing. I wouldn't know--it's a fur-free zone.

"My name is Frankie"

Us fur-babies sit with our noses pressed up against the french door and holler for attention. We are quite spoiled, and as you know, cats hate being told they can and can't go in their house!

Thank you for the beautiful cacti, careful wrapping and packing, and care information. Your website is wonderful, and the addy will be forwarded to Iraq. My mom really enjoyed exploring the site, and wants to share it with my dad. Don't be surprised if you get an email from him--his name is Jimmy.

Furry-Purries:Frankie, Goldie, Grace, Mis-Tac, & Elvis, and their mom, Carol
Thank you! Maybe with this year's catnip harvest I can include a small gift sample with cactus shipments going to cat people. Hum...I like that idea.

Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2008


I need your help. I have 2 Trichocereus but I didn`t know their name. Can you help me identificate these? First picture: I mean these is Trichocereus glaucus. He growth very fast und have wunderfull blue colour. Second picture: is thes Trichocereus peruvianus rimac (?).but he growth very slowly.

Sorry for my bad english. I`m from germany and if your website saw and thought you can help me Thank you for answer - have a nice day!



Click for larger image...

Dear Alexander, Your English is better than my German. But what I see in the photos is bad soil, or no soil. One has rocks (I guess to hold the plant for the photo?) The other is too sandy, wet and has what looks like undigested organic matter in it. Slow growth would be explained by this--the roots are in a continuous state of partial rot.

When I recommend 50% perlite it is to provide excellent drainage. A lot of sand is not good as it compacts and stays wet like a sponge. I only recommend real home made compost that is fully composted; not the so called "compost" sold at garden stores. Read the label to find it is fir bark, forest by-products, wood chips, etc. That is mulch that will simply rot in your soil mix. Real compost is only made by gardeners, is fully aged--so it has beneficial soil microorganisms. You probably cannot buy it. Try this mix...

I recommend you re-pot these plants in larger containers with 50% perlite soil mix. Then water with distilled H2O and a give plant food once a week during growing season diluted 50%.

Identification of small specimens may be missing the point; plants are living beings that require healthy conditions. Take care of that aspect first so one day you'll have a huge, healthy, happy specimen whose identity will be obvious.

Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008

Hi Verne,

Is the cutting I bought from you at Christmas 2006 the same plant* as you recently added to your website as your fastest growing Trichocereus hybrid? I bought 6 plants (5 were cuttings) from you at that time and they're all doing real well. Next year I plan to plant them in the ground with the rest of my plants, but I left them in containers so I could push some growth on them for a few years. The Trichocereus "Giant Vasquez" is in the front center in this picture.

Thanks, Willie Klearman
Larger image...
*Yes, that is the one I call "fastest". All your plants look very good, excellent job!  WOW!!!
Thanks for the complimentary words. Here's a picture of the garden where the Sacred Cactus.Com Trichocereus will be planted next year. As you can see, I have a pretty good sized growing area, with little micro areas where some plants do better than other spots.

I've been in the cactus hobby since around 1973, and have moved the plants around different houses in Atascadero, but at this location since 1992. My specialty are columnar cactus, especially the hardy South American trichos, as they make it though the cold winters here fairly well.

My favorite of the cuttings I bought from you is "Rimac" It's really a monster growing plant and I think that it's just getting started! Could this be the same plant as I've seen a few places on the internet as Macrogonus? The pictures look quite similar. Willie Klearman

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hello there! What an absolute pleasure it is that you share your passion and work on this site, thank you so much. I have spent many happy moments this weekend checking out the cacti and cats here, learning as I go. Seeing how you have things set up in sunny California is a huge help to me over here in England even though weatherwise we are very different. I could go on but realise you are liable to be super busy, so... All best wishes to you Verne. Liam

Hello Liam in England! I was in England once one summer in a previous lifetime as a 21 year old student with a delightful girlfriend. We bought a motorcycle in London that we drove 6,000 mile through Europe over a 10 week "holiday", as you guys call it. We went to the Isle of Wight, Brighton, Dover, Cambridge. New Forest had horses walking around loose on the roads, houses made of stone with huge thatched roofs. Pubs were fun because you guys called us "colonials" and bought us a free pint. Britons taught me that I had an accent, even though I thought it was the other way around.
Virginia and I rode our motorcycle through the area of England called New Forest. Horses and cattle roam free on the roads, the houses had those thick thatch roofs like in the movies.

Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2008 / Subject: Cactus ID help?
From: David Osborn <dw.osborn@gmail.com>

Hi Verne, I hope all is well with you. My name is David Osborn and I bought a San Pedro from you last winter. It is thriving here in Chicago and has grown about 7 inches this summer.

I�m writing you because I thought you might be able to help me identify a cactus pup given to me recently my uncle. He claims it is a Trichocereus Peruvianus, but I have me doubts. It does appear to be a Trichocereus of some kind, and I was hoping you could lend your expertise.

Here are the links to some pics of the pup. Unfortunately I was unable to snap a picture of the mother plant:

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank You,
David Osborn

Its a Cereus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cereus

Friday, July 18, 2008

Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I have been a guest to your site for almost three years now. It has
been of great assistance for my indoor cacti growing, and your genuine interest in these plants certainly shows. It has helped me to see the plants as real living beings, instead of just growing objects.

Keep up the good work! Best regards, Juha Kallio Finland

Thank you very much.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

hello, verne. i just wanted to complement you on a great website! great photos, great informatin.

thank you.

Thank you very much.

June 20, 2008

Hi Verne

This is my Trichocereus Peruvianus v. Ressler which I purchased in late march.
You did a great job rooting this cactus and I am honored to care for it. Your last measurement on 3/21/08 was 13" and as of 6/20/08 this sacred cactus is 20" tall.
That's 7 inches in 3 months!

My columnar cacti is a source of serenity in these difficult and uncertain times.
I am sure you can relate.

Thank you for providing something so rewarding and positive.

Chris, Thank you for the photo. In a loving home they grow like crazy. You sure gave this one a wonderful place to live. Your comment is appreciated "...these difficult and uncertain times." Things have just begun to go bad. Humans have hurt the planet too much for too long. It's important to focus on positive aspects of the life force so our consciousness can amplify that. Thanks again Chris. Verne

Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008

i have recently purchased two 13' San Pedro cactus. i repotted them and they have started growing but the new growth is skinny and half the diameter as the rest. i looked for information about this on your website but didnt find any. is this something that you could help me with. was thinking that maybe it was caused by the conditions or something but i tried to follow your repotting guide as much as possible. thank you. i have attatched a picture of them.
Who did you purchase these from?
Ask that seller what's up�what did you buy�cuttings or rooted plants? Did you repot them because they were root bound, or potted unrooted cuttings? Without these details I can't diagnose the situation. Do you have any healthy plants growing in the same location? If so there is enough light. If these are cuttings then they don't have a root system yet.

I can't tell if they have roots or not, or if there is insufficient light; both could be the cause.

There is a similar picture of etiolated (skinny tip) plants.  See
Skinny Tip 2006

Date: Thu, 12 Jun 2008
Subject: Peruvian Torch Woes

I am having an issue with a torch and you seem to be the most knowledgeable and generous person on the web to ask for help. My torch started browning this winter and eventually it got all black on the top.

I was advised by someone on a forum to cut the whole thing down to where it isn't brown and I just did that in my kitchen only to find that it looks perfectly healthy on the inside of the cactus. So my question is: would it be worth it to try and graft that long, brown middle section back onto the base? If so, what are the steps involved? If I decide to just let the base grow back again, do I need to take it out and let the top dry? wash the cut surface with alcohol?

I took out the loose soil and gravel on top to make sure the roots weren't infected, it looks a little yellow but it isn't too much softer than the green part.

Where do I go from here?

Thanks so much for any help!

PS. Since I last emailed you I put the cut part in the freezer, has this ruined any chance of re-attaching? probably

Where do you go from here?

The health or sickness of the plant is a reflection of yourself. Reality itself is a like a dream in which everything is created by the self.

Plants are living beings
Learn about the life force by getting up from your computer�visit a home & garden store to understand creating healthy conditions for plants in your home.

Buy any inexpensive cactus at Lowes or Home Depot along with a book on container growing. Try to raise a healthy "any old kind" of cactus. Can you keep it alive and see it thrive?

Learning is a lifelong activity
Read, talk to gardeners, learn, observe.

It is not the plant, per se, that is sick; it is us. Its demise is a manifestation of our own inner darkness.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Can "pups" just be pulled away from the mom and replanted separately?

Can human children be taken away from their mother by force? Sure. But is that best?

Why not keep the family together but give it a larger, more spacious home where everyone can grow to be all he or she can be? Whole, happy families in safe homes may be the best thing. That's what I believe. Take cuttings from adults; I leave pups alone. They're just kids.

But that's just me. You may be happier ripping the poor thing out of the earth...
There is a story about a goose that laid golden eggs. One day the owner cut it open to get all the gold out.

I would have let that goose alone but taken really good care of her and thanked her every day for being such a wonderful gift of nature.

But that's just me.

May 31, 2008

My question is will the cactus survive in fort worth texas? the listing for dallas is zone 8 yet my neighbors across the street have a nice optunia (those are prickly pears correct?) and i already have a nice grandiflorus growing (potted however) I want to plant them outside so they can flower and feed the local bats.
PS. nice cats.

Don't know about your local climate. I'm in sunny California. Here is what I have experienced with winter cold snaps--temps in the 20s. http://www.trichocereus.com/outdoor_freeze_damage.htm

As you propogate san pedros try one outdoors for a winter but only one. I had a customer near Carlsbad New Mexico lose an entire patch put in the earth-- when it was buried under a snow drift.

Opuntia are more cold hardy--not comparable with the peruvian climate where warm equatorial ocean circulates... Texas is mid continent where the winter jet stream sometimes pushes arctic air.

Small specimens will freeze where larger, thicker diameter ones will not; it also depends how long it stays down in the 20s. You will have to experiment.

Zone 8 sounds bad. I only recommend zone 9 and up. Climate is unstable now due to man made changes; who know if the old zone system is as reliable as it was in the past?

I'd keep San Pedro potted in large containers so you can pull them inside the garage if the weather calls for a hard freeze.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Verne, Your comments on the cool nights here in Colorado were right on I believe. I was seriously giving that thought this winter. But you know how it goes, you just need someone to say it and put it in a logical way. Thanks. After all, we all know that cactus / desert plants (desert high or low) experience very cool if not downright cold nights. DUH! since re- acclaimating my plants. and putting them out for the nights - 42 degrees night, 75-80 degrees days, they have exibited amazing new growth ... especially the macrogonus. 2 new off shoots going from 1/2 " to dime size in 1.5 weeks! Also want to stress the point of scaping off the top layers (container pots..BIG & terra cotta) about 4 -5 inches and putting in new organic material, worm castings,compost, lava grit etc. Also, superthrive & old age sea kelp seems to be a great thing and water towards the end of the day.

Thanks again Verne and hey ....where are those death sticks LOL!!

I noticed how explicit your instructions are for ordering (based no doubt on stupid hassles with past shipping and payments) that is why this is such a comedy of errors...but needless to say...I wasn't laughing. I just wanted to buy your damn cactus ...pay and have a good morning..but NOOOooo. ebay and paypal thought they should see how bad I wanted it! One hour and 45 minutes later with ebays worthless live customer service and two paypal reps...I finally got my payment processed. I REALLY DO WANT IT! I think you have payment now..and address???. Ship the cactus to me ...can we just get this over with? ....Thanks again...I'm look forward to my cactus...peace out!

I believe everything you say about your experience with eBay and PayPal. There is no hope. It will only get worse. There is a recent B movie called Idiocracy (I think Starz has it) with a marvelous opening scene. It explains how the world is getting stupider.
Your cute little cactus friend will ship to you (Main street address) Friday, May 9. Thank you. Verne
(above) Opening scene of this film explains
eBay, PayPal and everything else

Date: Sun, 4 May 2008/From: "eBay Member<member@ebay.com>

i can see your a busy man i just wanted to thank you for the super packing job cactus arived with no damage what so ever the BEST packing job ive ever seen and thanks for all the great info on your site and sent in the shipment ill be buying again soon thanks ron hawks your happy native american friend/customer


Dear irwildcat,

As a farmer I'm very busy this time of year! Endless potting soil to make, grass/weeds to mow, transplanting, repotting, repairing equipment, mulching, harvesting cuttings to dry, etc.

Thank you for your time to write words that cheer me up--make all the hard work, long hours feel rewarding.

Verne & The Cats


hello verne, i had bought a pedro a few months back now and the little buddy is doing great seated in his new pot. i know that you are great with columnar cacti, but i dont know your experience with grafting but what i was wondering though is when you graft one species onto another, does the base plant still continue normal growth? i was thinking about grafting a colorful gymnocalycium mihanovichii(i dont know its non-latin name) onto a pachanoi for an interesting contrast. Should i scrap the idea all together? i would love to hear your advice on this. thank you for your time --Brandon


There are numerous cactus guys who offer photo tutorials on their websites. Search around? This one discusses graft compatibility noting the complication about botany terms such as species, genus, genera, and order.

I do not graft outside of the Trichocereus family. So I am not any kind of grafting expert. Sorry.

Grafting brings out the Dr. Frankenstein in me. The latent need to pick up a scalpel to play surgeon, or mad scientist. Its fun to create new life forms.

Yes, the base does continue to grow. My San Pedro bases pup, and/or grow offsets from an areole. To me its cool to have an offset San Pedro tip growing up along side the grafted one.

My friend Elton grafts his rare stuff on Trichocereus Spachianus (right).
T. Spachianus is always a good choice for a base, but since I have tons of San Pedro so I use that instead.
One of Elton's grafts


as of lately i have been wanting to aquire a t. macrogonus. i've been online searching with several websites offering it. there is only one thing that concerns me. the picture these online stores use is the same for several of the sites. what gives?

is it possible these sites sell subpar cacti cuttings? i have only ever bought from you. all the cacti i have were once under your care. i'm weary to even shop the realm of other stores. you know anything on this?

I am raising a lot of Magrogonus specimens. They are not big enough yet--only hot dog size. Maybe in the fall I'll sell a few. But I have hundreds of smaller seedlings coming up--so next year will have plenty to offer.

I'm a farmer with a lot of chores--and no time to visit or evaluate other websites. My life experience taught me that most people in business just want to make a buck. Buckminster Fuller said "You can't make both money and sense." Well, I don't make more than just enough to pay the bills each month. But when you visit my plants I think I make sense. My plants are healthy & happy.


Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 /From: joel villarreal
Subject: successful rooting

what the smallest piece of cacti you have ever succefully rooted? would a piece 5 inches root or would i simply be wasting my time?


Plant care takes a little skill. What I can do--I can do. But I have no idea what you or anyone else can do. I have rooted tips only 1" tall. But it can take the whole season and only the following year do they really start to grow. 5"? Piece of pie! You should be able to root it just fine.

In fact, due to harvesting cuttings, grafting, etc. I have a whole 3'x8' table of tiny fellows being rooted. Only a few don't make it.

This is the biblical system Jesus taught during the Sermon on the Mound. Remember loaves & fishes? Same with San Pedro--all the little pieces multiply and you have more and more instead of less and less.

Loaves & fishes. Root every little piece. Amen.


Date: Fri, 2 May 2008
From: joel villarreal

thanks sir. i swear you are god sent. may god bless you, your family, cats and cacti many times over. i love your website and all the cacti i own were once yours. much love my friend

thank you.

p.s. what websites do you trust to buy cuttings from. i personally only trust yours but i want to aquire a t macrogonus but the websites i have visited all have the same pic for t. mac. seems sketchy. what are your thoughts on this?


Thanks. It is nice to get your thoughtful, grateful reply. My macrogonus are not ready to sell quite yet. But in the fall I'll part with a few on eBay. Keep in touch?

I have no idea what other websites exist --let alone know what they do.


"over 12" from the penis in one season", May 01, 2008

Hi again Verne, I don't mean to turn this into a Q&A forum.... (consider it respect for your growing techniques!) But what do you think of using good amounts of 3/8" minus lava rock in the potting soil? I did it with a bridgesii that I got from you and a "penis" plant. Both have shown absolutely remarkable growth, I got about 10" from the bridgesii and over 12" from the penis in one season. Soil being homemade compost 40% - worm castings 20% - perlite 40% Then a copious handful(s) of small lava rock and dust. There seems to be a noticeable difference between these 2 plants and the other peruvianus, and monstrous.

What do you think? Pete Sanctuary Outdoor Living & Landscaping, Inc. Monument, CO

[Penis plant is a form of Bridgesii that looks like its name]



Soil is very important; yet past a certain point growth rate may be tied to night time temperature because cactus open their stoma at night. In my experience (and Elton Roberts') cactus seem to shut down in heat. We both observe dramatic growth spurts when night temps are below 70 but slow growth when it is above 70 degrees F.

The other factor, I believe, is love. Anything you love grows. So if you love your penis...

"...noticing that the soil mass changed very little,...much of the gained mass also comes from carbon dioxide as well as water...the bulk of a plant's biomass comes from the inputs of photosynthesis, not the soil itself."
Jan van Helmont began the research of the process in the mid-1600s when he carefully measured the mass of the soil used by a plant and the mass of the plant as it grew. After noticing that the soil mass changed very little, he hypothesized that the mass of the growing plant must come from the water, the only substance he added to the potted plant. His hypothesis was partially accurate - much of the gained mass also comes from carbon dioxide as well as water. However, this was a signaling point to the idea that the bulk of a plant's biomass comes from the inputs of photosynthesis, not the soil itself.

Pete, your cool Colorado nights may be the key factor to the spectacular growth of your plants. After all, I have seen 14 foot tall monster sized San Pedro that eke out their nutrients from plain dirt. No fertilizers or anything special at all. As long as the plant has water, some soil minerals the rest is carbon from the air. The wood from a tree is something like 90% carbon. Carbon not from soil--from the air!

When it gets too hot here in the Central Valley my Trichocereus stop growing until night time temperatures drop back to 70 degrees or so. Similarly, seed will not germinate if it is over 70 or 80 degrees--but they will germinate at lower temps. In fact, I germinate my seeds in an unheated room in the winter; during the summer I have to air condition it.

My cactus expert friend, Elton Roberts, has a lot to say about Crassulacean acid metabolism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crassulacean_acid_metabolism

You live in cooler, high altitude Colorado--a place I only drove through once in 1971. So I don't know what your growing temperatures are like. Plant nutrients mean nothing when it is too hot.

That's all I know--California Central Valley; trichocereus go dormant, growth wise, in the dead of winter as well as the heat of summer. But Spring & Fall they grow like crazy!

As for 10" growth from your penis, well, we should all be so lucky.

Winter temperatures?, April 27, 2008

WOW... I'm going to buy one of your plants next week. I live in Denver, Western view from the 3rd floor balcony. the patio door (ceiling to floor) before the balcony is a 2-door space and then the rest of the end of the house is a big window frm about a foot down from the ciling to about 16" from the floor. So I have Western light from sunrise to sunset. There is no shade on the patio when the afternoon sun comes around.

If I buy a bigger plant and leave it outside this summer, can I leave it outside during the winter? I was surprised to see that they can handle temps to 20 degrees. What about the direct sun though? I want to make sure I get the right variety. If I get an 18" plant and do everything right, it should be pretty big in 3-4 years, right? That's very exciting. I can read this site all day long and still learn something every time I read it. Thanks for all you do and for doing it sooo well! Vicki

Consider visiting a local plant store that sells cactus. Ask them about your local conditions. I only know how to grow outside year round in sunny California where it almost never freezes.

Trichocereus Macrogonus, April 26, 2008

Hi again Verne, What do you know of T. macrogonus? How do you consider this plant and ...well what exactly is it in your opinion? Pete & Tami


Macrogonus, Glaucus, KK242, and others are huge, blue, and very desirable Peruvianus varieties. Trichocereus Macrogonus is one of my favorites. I still regret selling this huge, 5 footer on eBay about 4 years ago. At that time I misidentified it as a Trichocereus Peruvianus and its still listed that way on this site. One of these days I fix that.

This one (right) was the last of my large specimens. Since then I have obtained seed from Peru that I've been germinating for several years. Currently I have a tray of ones about hot dog size, and several trays of finger tip size, plus hundreds of small seedlings.

In other words, I hope to offer large specimens in the future.

In fact, I have several amazing varieties like this that I'm either raising up from seed or multiplying by cuttings. The goal is to offer a sort of rainbow of Sacred Peruvian cactus. In the future. Coming soon to a planet near you. It just takes time.

Compliments and stuff
Greetings Verne,
The cactus arrived today in excellent condition.  Thank you for the amazing care you took in packing it.  I am impressed that it survived the 6 day journey from CA to MD through the carrier system so well. 
Specifically, wrapping the top of the container was brilliant, as it arrived on my door step upside down and would have lost its soil otherwise.
I am pulling up your web page now (trichocereus.com) to review the information on repotting the cactus.  I appreciate the care you have taken to help folks grow and cultivate this wonderful sacred plant.  I'm looking forward to getting to know the cactus as it grows.  It is a welcome addition to my garden of sacred plants. Question about ordering further specimens. If I am successful in cultivating this species, I would like to teach a group of friends about its cultivation.  Do you allow for direct orders of cutting (to be rooted) or rooted plants?  If all goes as planned, I would need 8 to 10 plants for the class, preferably about the same size as this one (18 to 24 inches in length).
Thank you for your wonderful work in helping people rediscover this beautiful gift of the Gods.
Whittney Matlock
Results oriented massage therapy and pain management
929 W. Broad St., #202
Falls Church, VA 22046


Thank you. I do what I can. Currently I cannot sell direct, only through eBay.


Offset growth? / Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hi Verne, I'm a proud owner of a couple of your cacti and know that you are an authority in the columnar cacti field so I have a little question for ya. I appreciate what I read in the last post about offsets but it didn't quite answer my question. I'm a container/windowsill gardener in the midwest and have to really conserve space. My question is this, considering I will most likely never deal with a specimen advanced enough to offset itself in my planters, is there a way to cut/apply compound/waive a magic wand to make a cactus grow another shoot/offset either from an existing column or an already cut column that has one offset that you would like to make two or three on the same rooted cactus? Sorry for rambling but I have scoured the web looking for this answer and have found much information but noting addressing my exact question. Love what you do, keep it up. Thanks again for my beautiful cacti. -Joe


I'm not clear what you want to do. Nature does what it does by itself. If you whack off the top of any plant nature pushes around that missing top--with new growth.

If you want to manipulate nature --try an upside down graft. You can search engine "upside down graft" to find a tutorial.  http://www.trichocereus.com/grafts.htm

This is the end of my knowledge, I guess.

March 25, 2008

I saw the branchings on your huge cacti. I am wondering, and have heard, many different things answering this question. I have several which were cuttings I planted and they grew shoots from the top. Some a single one some two or three.

My question is how do your get more branches to come on the cactus. Do they do it naturally or is there a technique of cutting them or something to induce branching.


Offset=growth from a column after you cut off the tip.
Pup=a new little San Pedro that pops up from the soil next to the main column.
Branch=a spontaneous sprouting outward from a column that has not had growth above it cut off.
Pups popping up out of the soil.

They branch naturally --but only when old & tall enough. Small flower pot size ones will grow a new tip from the base (a pup), or produce what you call shoots. The techy term is "offset", as in offset growth, or to grow offsets. http://www.trichocereus.com/offset_growth.htm

But true branching occurs only in old sections--

A tip or column section cut from an old, tall san pedro may branch spontaneously after it has been rooted as a new plant. As if it remembers that it was once high up and was due for a branching before being cut down. These old pieces will also flower right away even before rooting, sometimes.

A newly sprouted tip from an old plant is commonly taken to root into a new plant. These new growth tips take years to mature, branch and flower. Much slower than taking one of the old sections. However, old sections are woody and slower/more tricky to root. They usually have a lot of sun damage so they're not very cosmetic. I have trouble selling them for that reason.

A seed grown san pedro would probably take many years to branch and/or flower. But I have no idea how many years. All my san pedro experience is with cuttings.

I also had a lot of branching from a very crowded stand at my old house. It was branch city!


Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008

thanks for the info and the links to the photos! your stuff is really nice. i'm going to order some more next week. any older lophophora williamsii growing about the tippies?

RE: lophophora williamsii

You are asking about something that is a felony to possess. Apparently your intended interest in cactus is not something I want to be associated with. Worse, you assume I am a felon. That is insulting.

I have banned your ebay username.


Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008
Dear zircon6,

i really like the twin tippies and i love the tripple tippies. do you get these by fancy grafting or do they just somehow grow from a cut piece.


Dear [..........],

Any time you cut a san pedro tip off --the remaining column will sprout from 1 to 4 (or even more) new tips called offsets.

Sometimes I cut off the top of a column that already has 2-3 offset tips and root that little section of column. I think you bought some like that.

Also, when I root tips I often put 2 or more tips in a pot so they grow as a cluster. This may look like twins or a family with kids. But its just 2 or more rooting next to each other.

Grafting is one of my favorites to make "Dr. FrankenPedro" specimens with bridgesii, san pedro, peruvian torch grafted into what I call "2 in 1" or "3 in 1" specimens. I sell those at Halloween.

Compliment / February 27, 2008

Hey verne, speaking of (bs)Botanicals, They were regularly burning people about a year ago by selling cuzcoensis as, you guessed it, Peruvian Torch. Ashamed to say that I was one of the burned.

As you stated, I'm sure the majority of their clientel are teenagers who never let the cactus hit dirt but simply peel them and boil them up. Sad.

Hope the seeds we sent are coming along well. Cheers again to you and your principles.

Pete & Tami - Sanctuary Outdoor Living & Landscaping

Hello Pete & Tami,

Good to hear from you again.

Yup, that seed is doing very well-about the size of pinto beans now. I've transplanted many trays of 64 younglings each (2" pots 8x8 in trays).

Thanks for staying in touch.

Sure you don't want any death sticks?
  More about cactus seed growing...

February 27, 2008

Hey there Verne,

I purchased a couple san pedro cactus' from you a month or so ago. One 4 foot branch and another 3 foot log with three branches on it. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate the quality of your cacti
and the love you guys put into them. I recently purchased a bridgesii specimen and one other pachanoi from other sellers when I was looking for a "deal". I foolishly assumed that they would be of the same
quality that I got from you.... a cactus is a cactus right? WRONG!

Seriously though, I just really wanted to express my gratitude for all the hard work and the care you put into each one of these guys, it really shows. Needless to say I will be buying all my cacti from
you in the future and I plan to buy quite a few (I'm trying to turn my back yard into a sacred cacti garden!!). So thanks again... keep up the truly fantastic work! -




Sunday February 24, 2008

Hey, Verne, thanks again for the plants and for all the care put into packing them, they arrived in great shape and are all transferred to bigger containers now, happily growing. And we just bought a wormbox for composting the domestic organic waste, so soom the plants are going to have a wonderful fertilizer.
I just left you a positive feedback for the orders at eBay.
Have a great week!
Best regards,

Luiz and Erica
Dear Luiz & Erica,

Thank you for the thoughtful note.

I love my worms. The wormys I fondly call them. "Hey wormys! Here's a nice bunch of kitchen scraps for you! Yum-yum!" They are so happy to eat my leftovers. I love my worms. And my cats. And my plants. It is only humans that are so hard to tolerate. (see below)

I want to profit from your labors
From: [BS]botanicals@aol.com
Date: Sun, 24 Feb 2008
Subject: Cactus wholesale??

Hello I own [BS]Botanicals.com. I currently grow and sell san pedros, however, I am having a problem keeping up with the demand. I am interested in buying your cacti wholesale to replentish my supply, and possibly having you drop ship cactus for my company. I may be able to exclusively use your company for my cactus needs if we can come to an agreement. Please contact me at your earliest convenience.


[BS] Botanicals

You must smoke way too much marijuana. My auction terms clearly state I sell only at auction and only through ebay --and never make private deals such as you propose. You actually think that I would want to become your wholesale farm fool? Do you have brain damage or just an ego out of control because of the pot you smoke?

Do you really think I could lower my prices just so you can make a profit off me? I have enough trouble making ends meet without some business leech sucking up my plants. Buyers know that guys like you rip people off with high markup prices. I sell at fair prices that reflect the incredible (to you city folks) work it takes to farm plants. Yet you actually think I would want to work for you? Are you so out of touch with reality to think that I want some city person to take control of the profits from my farm? Are you nuts?

Tyler: "You wanna buy some death sticks?"

Obi-Wan: "You don't want to sell me death sticks."

Tyler: "Uh, I don't wanna sell you deathsticks."

Obi-Wan: "You want to go home and rethink your life."

Tyler: "I wanna go home and rethink my life"

The website you boast you own is a reseller of potentially poisonous drugs you buy from others. You know the dangers of ephedra (speed/heart attacks), the "death cap mushroom" Amanita Pantherina that contains liver toxins, Belladonna (the Deadly nightshade), and Salvia Divinorum -- an hallucinogen so nasty that it should be illegal. How many of your teenage customers were freaked out by ingesting that stuff?

"All of the specimens...are provided for the scientific research of ethnobotany and are absolutely not intended for human consumption in any way!  Some of the specimens are considered toxic." [BS] Botanicals

Scientific research? Do you actually think this warning absolves you from responsibility? You know perfectly well, I believe, that your "customers" are NOT scientists performing research but urban kids looking for a thrill. You are like a hardware store selling glue, solvents such as methyl ethyl ketone and benzene --knowing that kids are buying them to inhale. Have you ever known a glue head who had a brain aneurism? I knew one in High School who had to have the entire top of his skull cut off so the doctor could operate. You sell the death cap mushroom which has toxins that kill liver cells. I've heard of people dying days after ingesting Amanita Pantherina because their liver shut down. Any of your customers need liver transplants?

There is a sense of greed inherent in your email that is offensive to me. You think I am so stupid that I would allow a drug dealer such as yourself to make me his farm laborer-- so he can re-sell my cactus to children?! I know who you are and where you are. I banned you from buying last year because of your stated use for my plants.

Anyone who tells me they intend to consume my plants is immediately banned from purchasing on eBay. There are hundreds of dangerous substances people are not supposed to consume. You seem to make a business of providing as many poisons as you can --simply to make money. You may get away with it on eBay but I will not be associated with you.

Thank you so much for taking time, from running your excellent corporation, to make this generous offer to me. After much soul searching and long discussions with my cats we realized we cannot come to an agreement with you.

January 27, 2008

Dear zircon6,

I have purchased a nice fat cutting from you a year and a half (or so) ago. I had to move and leave it to my my brother who has taken excellent care of it. it grew from 21" to about 60" he said and is doing great. I believe my account name was different at that time.... anyway, just dropping a line to say hello and thank you for the last quality piece I bought. I hope my newly purchased cuttings will do as
nicely here. i bought the box that totaled 51" so I could start multiple pots to fill my sun room with.

Take care!


January 27, 2008


Thanks so much for your great cacti and fast shipping. I was wondering if you could advise me on how to help a cactus to grow branches off of the main column. I noticed one of my cacti appears to be growing a branch out of a scarred area, is it a good idea to damage a perfectly healthy cactus to make it grow new branches? Thanks!


I know San Pedro only branch when they get 8 to 10 feet tall or so.
They have to get huge first, grown outside.

Other species just branch all the time--such as opuntia.

That's all I know about branching.


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