Growing Cactus from Seed 101:
have fun and increase your collection

Growing cactus from seed is counterintuitive and they grow slowly but once they start blooming is highly rewarding

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Jimena Bolívar

April 25, 2021


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Introduction

Growing cactus is really funny, everything from choosing the one you like the most and see it growing under your care and making part of your life.

But there’s something that would make it all even better: growing it from seed! Then you’ll have the chance to go through the process and feel the accomplishment of helping a baby plant turn into a big plant.

Growing cactus from seed is different from growing them when they are propagated by other methods. It requires a lot more care since it doesn’t like direct sunlight and has to be in perfect moisturized soil.

cactus in a pot

1. How to Get Seeds

The first thing you may be thinking about is how to get cactus seeds. The truth is that they’re fairly easy to find either online and on brick-and-mortar stores.

Getting cactus seeds isn’t hard. They can be found on brick-and-mortar stores and online. The only thing to be aware of is that the place sells good quality seeds. Another option is getting them from other cactus.

Here are some seeds mix you can choose from sellers with a good reputation on Amazon

Outsidepride seeds mix

This seeds mix will provide you strong cactus that can grow until 15 in hight

Amazon Prime Logo

100 mixed pieces of Opuntia Stricta

Cactus seeds from a species that is dear to the gardeners. Beautiful and easy to care.

Amazon Prime Logo

You also have the option to get your seeds from other cactus. This will take more effort and more ability.

seeds of a cactus on a piece of paper

For this, you’ll need to wait until the cactus blooms and then take the seeds from its dead flower. Place the flower on a paper bag and wait until they are totally dried up.

2. What you Need to Plant your Cactus

You’ve got your seeds and I’m sure you’re as excited as I am to start the fun!

gardening tools on a table

To plant cactus from seed it takes to have the seeds, sterile soil, transparent lit or plastic wrap, a small pot, a bigger pot, and a warm place.

Sterile Soil

Sterile soil is important because if you don’t use it and there are any bacteria or fungi in the soil your seeds will probably die even before germinating.

You can sterile the soil both on microwave and oven. If you choose the microwave then put your soil in it and let it there on the high setting for 3 minutes. Stop the microwave halfway to thoroughly sir the soil mix with a clean spoon so all the soil is extremely hot at the end of the process.

In the oven, you’ll bake the soil mix for at least 30 minutes at a temperature of 180-200F until the soil temperature reaches 180F (82 C).

Pots

You’ll need pots in two different sizes, the first one should be about 1,5 inches and have holes on the bottom. The other pot shouldn’t be too big, as it shouldn’t be more than 2 times the size of the plant.

Transparent Lid or Plastic Wrap

Cactus seeds need a very controlled environment to germinate, this why you’ll need to emulate the perfect environment using a transparent lid or a plastic wrap.

When to Plant Cactus Seeds

As many other plants cactus seeds do have their best time to sow. For cactus seeds, it’s late winter, early spring, and summer. Unless in warm climates where the propagation is edible any time of the year except peak summer.

It’s important to observe the best time to plant because if the cactus seeds don’t get the perfect conditions to grow they get dormant and take even longer for you to have new cactus in your collection.

3. Step-by-step to Growing Cactus from Seed

Are you already set for this fun adventure? Then follow this guide and you’ll have your baby cactus in around one year (I mentioned before that they grow slow).

To grow cactus from seed the procedure is easy, the first step is planting them in a shallow pot with regular soil, wrapping it with a plastic lid or wrap, wait for germinating, re-poting, and waiting until it gets old enough to be in the full direct sun.

Step 1

Clean the first pot you’ll use and place the soil on a shallow pot with sterile soil. Water the soil abundantly before placing the seeds and let it dry.

Then gently place the seeds above the soil without pressing them. There’s no need to add another layer of soil, but if you feel like you can add a thin one just enough to cover the seeds.

Don’t let the seeds too deep on the soil because they have only a small amount of energy stored and if they’re too deep they won’t be able to reach the surface before dying.

PRO TIP

Label the containers if you’re growing more than one species so you know exactly what to wait for and how to treat them

Step 2

Cover the seeds in a transparent lid or plastic wrap. Then place in a warm place, in most cases somewhere between 70F to 90F will be enough. No need to be sunny and avoid direct sunlight at all.

While the seeds are in the plastic wrap you probably won’t need to water it. Just pay attention and make sure the soil isn’t dry. It has to be moist on the sweet spot between dry and wet.

PRO TIP

If even avoiding direct sunlight your seeds are turning red, they’re probably getting too much sunlight

Step 3

Germination takes from several days to several weeks, so be patient and don’t open the container before the germination process starts. When you see your seeds are starting to form tiny spines, which will probably happen around 2 to 3 months, you can start to remove gradually the plastic.

Start introducing slowly to the indoor climate, letting them breathe for a while every day and slowly increasing the time until the wrap is completely removed. Note that you’re not introducing to sunlight yet.

Introducing your plant to sunlight shouldn’t happen before the plants have 3 inches. Start slowly and indoors. It’s really important to understand that you’ll only be able to treat your baby cactus as a cactus when it’s around 1 year

PRO TIP

When removing the wrap you’ll have to increase the watering, so pay attention to your baby cactus needs. The amount of water depends on the light and warmth the seeds get, the soil shouldn’t be too dry not too wet

Step 4

Once the cactus has the size of a marble you can re-pot it in a larger pot with regular cactus soil mix but still water it like a houseplant, not a cactus until it’s about 1 year. Just keep in mind that cactus don’t like a lot of space, so any pot above twice its size will be too large

PRO TIP

terracotta and unglazed ceramic pots are usually the best choices because they allow water to drain quickly.

At this point, your baby cactus won’t yet be able to handle full direct light, so keep it moderate.

Day 1 2-3 months 6 months 1 year
Sow Take the wrapping out Introducing to direct sunlight Treat the plant like a cactus

Conclusion

I think is amazing how different cactus seeds are from grown cactus. That’s the reason why in nature only 1 in 10 cactus seeds germinate and less than 1 in 1000 gets to be mature cactus. I’m sure you’ll learn a lot from growing them from seed as I did.

This experience makes us feel more connected to our baby plants and we pay more attention to its signs as it grows. My advice to you is to no longer wait and start this awesome adventure as soon as possible!

Keep Reading

If you’re into succulents like me, don’t stop here. I love to share my journey with fellow succulent lovers! There’s a lot more on this blog that might interest you, so pick one of the links below and let’s dive together into this awesome succulents’ world!

Can You Grow a Cactus Indoors? What can help you do this?

It’s not a rocket science to grow cactus indoors. All you need is to place the cactus at the right spot and take care of it.

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena 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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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena 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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