The Peruvian Torch Cactus (Echinopsis Peruviana)


The Peruvian torch cactus is an eye-grabbing part of any garden. It’s also well-known for the psychedelic content of its striking Grandiflora. With plenty of sunlight and a diligent water regimen, you’ll find that this is a really easy cactus to care for. 

The main care guidelines related to the Peruvian Torch Cactus are the following: 

  • Give it plenty of indirect sun exposure from spring until the early fall, between 4-5 hours every day.
  • Water your cactus deeply in intervals (the soil should dry slightly).
  • If the cactus is potted, keep it well-drained. 
  • Move it to a location with less sun exposure during the winter. 

All in all, you’ll find that the Peruvian torch cactus will give you an easy time. It doesn’t pose a big barrier of entry if you’re a beginner, and thus it’s ideal if you’re just starting out. You’ll find that with some care and the right weather conditions, this cactus will start thriving in no time at all. 

Peruvian Torch Cactus Care Guide

Watering 

The Peruvian torch cactus has different water requirements depending on the season. 

During the summer, you should water it frequently, and most importantly, deeply. Make sure that you leave an interval between watering sessions; the soil should be starting to dry before you re-water.  

During the winter, the Peruvian torch cactus will require less watering. It can go up to four weeks without needing additional water. 

Always water near the base of the plant. You don’t water to get on the torch column.

Humidity

This cactus doesn’t require additional humidity. It’s adapted to dry air, so it requires no misting. 

Soil

The Peruvian torch cactus does best in a soil with good drainage and humidity retention. Thus, we recommend a soil that’s mostly rocky with a little bit of organic matter (to ensure moisture). 

Light 

This cactus hails from regions that are mostly arid and with plenty of sun. Therefore, it should be getting plenty of sunlight, especially from spring through the late fall months

The Peruvian torch cactus needs about 4-5 daily hours of sunlight in order to flower. It’s best to keep them under a mesquite, or palo verde tree that provides partial shading.

Young plants, though, require a little more care and may need you to place some more UV-blocking material to protect them from sunlight. 

Temperature

The Peruvian torch cactus is pretty resistant to a variety of temperatures. It prefers a tropical, temperate climate. If this the climate in your area of residence, you’re in luck. If not, you can also emulate these conditions indoors. 

This cactus is also remarkably hardy. It can survive conditions as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. It can even tolerate hard frost and freezing, though it won’t survive extreme winter conditions. It can take a beating but don’t get overconfident. 

Peruvian Torch Cactus Advanced Caring Guidelines

Blooming 

The Peruvian torch cactus has red flowers that show slight variations in the shade. Some varieties also have white, big flowers. 

The flowers bloom at first light. They appear in a great profusion of 50 or more per specimen and bloom two or three days a year and in ones or twos an additional 5 to 30 days of the year. This frequency depends on the particular hybrid and its age.

Other Uses (Psychedelics) 

The Peruvian torch cactus is normally lumped into the varieties of San Pedro, which contains a powerful psychedelic/entheogen substance known as mescaline

It’s been used widely in Peruvian and Latin American shamanic rituals, where its purported healing properties have taken those brave enough to try it on healing spiritual journeys. 

Of note, though, is that the Peruvian torch cactus has a higher content of the alkaloid mescaline than the actual San Pedro cactus. While in San Pedro much of the psychedelic brew comes from cactus shavings, in the case of the Peruvian torch cactus the Grandiflora is used.  It should not be ingested without the presence of a knowledgeable shaman or psychedelic explorer, as its effects can be tremendously strong.

Care should be taken before ingestion. Indigenous Peruvians have been known to use this cactus for 2000-3000 years prior to its discovery by modern science. While not illegal to grow without intent to consume its psychedelic flower, ingestion may be illegal in your area. Exercise caution, and consult your local legal guidelines before proceeding. 

For more information, consult this guide

Related Questions 

How to Identify a Peruvian Torch Cactus

The plant is bluish-green in color, with 6-9 rounded ribs and frosted stems. It also has red, or sometimes white, flowers. 

How Big Does a Torch Cactus Get? 

It can be between ten to twenty feet tall. While at first it may be fully erect, it may begin to arch over as it gets taller. 

Should I prune a Peruvian Torch Cactus?

Prune slightly, and only if necessary. You can determine this by checking how sloughed do the stems look and if they are trailing the ground.

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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