Banisteriopsis caapi is a fast-growing vine native to the rain forests of South America. The plant is also called ayahuasca, caapi, or yage. It has hallucinogenic properties and is used by shamans and indigenous peoples. B. caapi grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12.
Starting Banisteriopsis Caapi Seeds
You can propagate the Banisteriopsis caapi vine by cutting, but when you are just getting started with your ayahuasca plant, you will need to germinate the seeds and establish the plant, which can take some time. Start with a rich soil that is at least 1/4 perlite so that it drains well.
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Ayahuasca seeds are similar in appearance to helicopterlike maple seeds. You can separate the two wings of the seed and plant the pod part of the seed in the soil, allowing the wing portion to stick up. Moisten the soil and cover the pot with a plastic bag to keep the air moist and humid. Check the soil daily and add moisture as needed. Seeds typically germinate in three to four weeks.
Once the seed germinates, you can transfer the seedling to a larger container with rich, well-draining soil. Avoid direct sunlight and continue to water regularly to keep the soil moist.
Care for the Caapi Plant
If you live in USDA zones 10 to 12, you can transplant the seedling outdoors in a location where it is in the light or partial shade. It can tolerate full sun, and parts of the vine that reach the sun may bloom better than the shaded vines. The soil should drain well and have an acidic or neutral pH. Consider conducting a soil test prior to planting if you have doubts about the fertility or pH level of your soil. In many parts of the United States, you may need to grow the vine in an indoor greenhouse.
The ayahuasca plant is a tropical plant and prefers humid conditions and consistently moist soil. Make sure to water regularly if you are growing the vine in a container or if you don't get sufficient rainfall.
Ideally, nighttime temperatures should not fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, but the plant can survive temperatures as low as 40 degrees. Do not plant the vine outdoors if you live in an area where there is a danger of frost.
Considerations for Growing Ayahuasca
The Banisteriopsis caapi vine grows nearly 100 feet long, and in the wild, it grows on trees and other plants for support. You will need to provide some sort of support for your ayahuasca vines or allow it to grow up a sturdy tree if your local climate is suitable for growing the vine outdoors.
If you are growing the vine in a container, check the roots each year and repot the plant as needed to ensure the roots have room to grow and don't become bound.
Safety and Legal Considerations
While the tea made from ayahuasca has a long history of spiritual and medicinal use, it can also be harmful. Some people have negative experiences after drinking ayahuasca, including frightening hallucinations, nausea, numbness, tingling and photosensitivity.
One of the main hallucinogenic substances in the plant is DMT, or N, N-dimethyltryptamine. DMT is illegal in the United States and is classified as a schedule 1 substance along with heroin and ecstasy by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.
So, while it is generally legal to grow the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, brewing your own tea is not legal in most cases. Be sure to check your state and local laws before deciding to grow the ayahuasca plant.
- National Tropical Botanical Garden: Banisteriopsis caapi
- Dave's Garden: Ayahuasca, Banisteriopsis caapi
- Plants for a Future: Banisteriopsis caapi - (Spruce ex Griseb.) C.V.Morton
- XPlanta: Banisteriopsis Caapi
- Zamnesia: How To Grow Banisteriopsis Caapi From Seed
- National Gardening Association: Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi)
- PlantMedicine.org: Ayahuasca's Confusing Legal Status In The US