The 5 Stages of Cactus Growth
& How Long it Takes!

Are you wondering about how a cactus grows? You've come to the right place!

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Kelly Adams

September 10, 2021

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Cacti are spiny plants that can go hours without water. If you’re someone who just can’t get enough of cacti and succulents, you might be interested to learn about how they grow. 

Cacti grow slowly over a period of 6-12 months typically. They grow taller after 2-3 years with an addition of 1 to 3 centimeters per year.

An image of a cactus in a white pot

How Long Does a Cactus take to Grow?

A cactus typically takes 6-12 months to grow. It reaches its maximum potential after 2-3 years. During this time, 1-3 centimeters are added to its length.

The reason for this slow growth is primarily survival. Cacti are adapted to survive if their needs aren’t being met in their surrounding environment. Extreme heat and dry climate contribute to the life cycle of a cactus.

You might be interested to take a look at the five stages of the life cycle of a cactus. 

5 Stage of Cactus Growth

The growth of a cactus depends on the 5 important stages of its life cycle. Cacti are known to reproduce through the production of flowers or seeds. 

1. Germination

An image of a cactus

The first stage in the life cycle of a cactus involves the growth and transformation of a dormant seed into a seedling. Dormant seeds require the right conditions in their surroundings to grow. They rely on an environmental stimulus such as any change in the type of soil. 

These right conditions often involve the surrounding temperature, availability of water, and the intensity of light. The type of conditions depends on the seed variety. The seed coat needs to break away through the absorption of sufficient water. Stored food reserves in part of the seed need to be converted into chemicals that can be taken up by the seedling. 


Do not overwater your seed because this can prevent its growth

Another important factor that contributes to cellular growth in a seed is the availability of oxygen. The type of soil you choose needs to have soil pores. Seeds often rely on a particular temperature range to grow. Germination only occurs between this temperature range. Most cacti seeds germinate at a temperature of 20 to 22°C.


Protect your seeds from direct sunlight

Your seeds will need to be protected from the winter sun as well. 

2. Vegetative Growth

An image of a cactus with spines

Often called vegetative reproduction, this stage involves the production of a new plant from seed cuttings or seedlings. Vegetative reproduction often involves the production of more plant offspring per seed if there are enough resources. 

Some cacti can even grow through leaf cuttings. Leaves often act as vegetative parts in different cacti species. Vegetative production often produces offspring plants that look exactly like their parent plants. This can come in handy if your cactus has some unique physical features and you want to conserve its natural charm. 

The mature phase of a cactus can be reached quickly over a very short period of time through vegetative growth. 

3. Flowering

An image of a cactus with white flowers

Did you know that you can encourage blooming in cacti during any time of the year? Cacti often require desert-like environmental conditions in order to grow flowers. Temperature and light intensity are important factors that determine flower growth in cacti. 

Summer months are the ideal time to grow flowers on your cactus. The ideal temperature for flower growth is typically around 50° F. You can always shift your cactus from indoors to the hot summer afternoon sun of spring and summer months. 


Use the appropriate soil mix for your cactus to prevent root rot

Your cactus will need to be watered sufficiently during the growing seasons. It will be good to go during the winter since it will leave a bit of a margin and your soil will contain trapped moisture from the time it was watered before. 

You can rely on techniques such as misting and the use of a humidifier to ensure your cactus gets enough water. With the right kind of potting mix, your cactus will bloom in no time. 

Flowers grow in a set of different arrangements depending on the type of cactus. Some flowers grow directly from the body of the cactus whereas others grow from the stalk. Flowers often don’t last very long and you’ll see them sticking around for only a week or two. 

4. Pollination

An image of a cactus with spines

Getting your cactus to pollinate is often at times a very difficult task since flowers don’t last long on a cactus. However, if you wish to pollinate your cactus using natural methods, you will need to take a few things into consideration. 

First and foremost, you will need to place another cactus in full bloom next to yours. Make sure to place the two cacti close together to make pollination easier.

If this method doesn’t work, you can always rely on natural pollinating agents such as bees, bats, wasps and beetles.

5. Fruit Formation

An image of fruits on Prickly Pear

After pollination is successful, the fruit begins to develop. A berry is produced that has spines around it. Cacti belonging to the Opuntia species usually bear fruit. The fruit comes in a variety of colors. 

This fruit has a set of health benefits as well. Believe it or not, it is good for your heart. The anti-oxidants in the fruit help reduce cholesterol levels. It has anti-inflammatory properties as well. You won’t have to worry about indigestion and heartburn.

It’s a rich source of nutrients such as Vitamin C, K, E, Potassium and Magnesium as well.


We’ve looked at the 5 stages of cactus growth and how long it takes. These included germination, vegetative growth, flowering, pollination and fruit formation. 

If you liked reading about cacti, you might be interested to read about prickly pear.

How to Eat Prickly Pear? Here's The Right Way to Enjoy Cactus Fruit!

Are you confused whether you can eat prickly pear or cactus fruit? Don’t worry! Read ahead to learn more about this delicious fruit!

Kelly Adams Picture

By Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Kelly Adams Picture

Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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