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 it is highly rewarding!

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Jimena Bolívar

April 25, 2021


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Introduction

Growing cactus is funny, everything from choosing the one you like the most and see it growing under your care and making it a 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 through other methods of propagation. It requires a lot more care since it doesn’t like direct sunlight and has to be placed in perfectly 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 pretty easy to find either online or at brick-and-mortar stores.

Getting cactus seeds isn’t challenging. They can be found both at brick-and-mortar stores and online. However, you must ensure you purchase them from a place that sells good quality seeds. Another option you can consider is getting them from other cactus.

Here are seed mixes that you can get from well-reputed sellers on Amazon:

We love both the Outsidepride seeds mix and 100 mixed pieces of Opuntia Stricta

Outsidepride seeds mix

This seeds mix will provide you with a strong cactus that can grow upto 15 inches in height

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100 mixed pieces of Opuntia Stricta

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

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You also have the option to get your seeds from other cactus. However, doing so will take more effort and requires more skill.

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 in a paper bag and wait until they have 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, you need to have seeds, sterile soil, transparent lid or plastic wrap, a small pot, a bigger pot, and a warm place.

Sterile Soil

Sterile soil is essential 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 sterilize the soil both in a microwave or an oven. If you choose the microwave, put your soil in it and let it stay there on the high setting for 3 minutes. Stop the microwave halfway to thoroughly stir the soil mix with a clean spoon, to ensure that all the soil is extremely hot at the end.

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).

If you’re wondering what the best soil mix for your cactus could be, I recommend you buy this soil mix:

Pots

You’ll need pots in two different sizes; the first one should be about 1.5 inches and have a drainage hole on the bottom. The other pot shouldn’t be too big; at most, it should be more than two times the size of the plant.

Transparent Lid or Plastic Wrap

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

When to Plant Cactus Seeds

Cactus seeds should be planted when it’s late winter, early spring, or summer. However, propagation is possible at any time of the year if you live in a warmer climate.

It’s essential to sow your seeds at the best because if the cactus seeds don’t get the perfect conditions to grow, they get dormant. This means it will take even longer for you to get a 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 germination, repotting them, and waiting until it gets old enough to be in the full direct sun.

Step 1

Clean the smaller pot you’ll use and place sterile soil in it. You must water the soil abundantly to prepare the soil for the seeds. Once watered, wait for it to dry.

Then gently place the seeds above the soil without putting pressure on them. There’s no need to add another layer of soil, but you can add a thin layer to cover the seeds if you want.

Don’t let the seeds be stuck too deep within the soil because they have only a tiny amount of energy stored in them. If they’re placed too deep, they won’t reach the surface and will die.

PRO TIP

Label the containers if you're growing more than one species, so you know precisely what plant you're waiting for and how you need to treat them.

Step 2

Cover the seeds in a transparent lid or plastic wrap. Then place them in a warm place; in most cases, temperatures between 70F to 90F will be enough. No need to expose them to direct sunlight.

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

PRO TIP

If you let the seed get too much sunlight, they will turn red! So keep them away from the sun to ensure they are healthy!

Step 3

Germination can take anywhere between several days to several weeks, so be patient and don’t open the container before the germination process starts. When you see your seeds begin to form tiny spines, which will probably happen after around 2 to 3 months, you can gradually remove the plastic lid.

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

Introducing your plant to sunlight shouldn’t happen before the plants grows to about 3 inches tall. Start slowly and grow the plant indoors. It’s crucial to understand that you’ll only be able to treat your baby cactus as an adult cactus when it’s around one year old.

PRO TIP

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

Step 4

Once the cactus reaches the size of a marble, you can repot it in a larger pot with a regular cactus soil mix. Continue to water it like a houseplant until it’s about one year old. Just keep in mind that cactus don’t like a lot of space, so any pot above twice its size will be too large for it.

PRO TIP

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

At this point, your baby cactus won’t yet be able to handle full direct light, but you can expose it to sunlight moderately.

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 wait no longer and start this fantastic 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!

I recommend you read more about types of cacti and indoor cacti.

How Many Types of Cactus Are There? The Best Ones You Can Get!

Cacti are brilliant plants that can thrive without using too much water. Read ahead to learn about the different types of cacti!

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

It’s not 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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