How Far Apart is it Best to Plant a Cactus?

Although bringing home a new potted plant can sometimes be overwhelming for an inexperienced plant enthusiast, one does not have to worry as much if their new plant is a cactus.

Cacti are nature’s incredible fighters that can survive the desert heat, direct sun, and unavailability of water for shockingly long periods. It is this resilience and high tolerance that allows a wild cactus to outlive most other species of the plant kingdom.

However, if you already own one or multiple other cacti, you must know how and where to plant the new one. Although desert plants can endure unideal living conditions for quite some time, they do, however, need sufficient space to grow their large, thorny bodies.

Hence, before you invest in another beautiful species of the Cactaceae family, make sure you know how far two adjacent cacti should be planted.

Keep reading to learn how far it is best to plant a cactus and why it is important to leave space between two adjacent cacti in the USA.

Why Bring Home Another Cactus?

While most houseplants are notorious for being extremely sensitive to their external surroundings, the cactus is almost the opposite.

No matter which of the 1866 different cactus species you choose from, you will always end up impressed by the desert plant’s unmatchable tolerance and long lifespans.

This is why it is encouraged that you grow your indoor plant collection by bringing in cacti as their addition will not take up any more of your time.

Moreover, cacti have a unique, undeniable appeal that has contributed to making them a global favorite. While some cacti are desired for their deep green thorny bodies and tall heights, others are in high demand for bearing delicious edible fruits and vibrant flowers.

Furthermore, unlike most indoor plants that usually need their own individual potting containers to grow, cacti can survive alongside one another in the same pot if the size of the pot allows them to grow individually.

Once you have a collection of different cacti, you can plant them together to form stunning ornamental displays that will enhance your house’s overall appearance and give your guests something to gush over.

Hence, if you already have an indoor potted cactus, you might as well bring home another one.

How Far Apart Is it Best to Plant a Cactus?

In general, different cactus species will have different heights and diameters. While two baby cacti may seem physically small and similar in the beginning, they can both grow into different sizes and develop unique shapes and other body parts.

For instance, while cactus species will only grow up to fifty to sixty centimeters throughout their lives, others will grow several feet high in roughly the same lifespan.

Hence, if you plan on bringing home a new cactus to add to your overall indoor planted cactus collection, it is crucial that you know exactly which species you are choosing.

This information is vital to helping you decide how much space your cacti would need as they grow, and how far apart you should be planting two adjacent cacti.

In general, the rule of thumb for most of the smaller indoor cactus species is that two adjacent cacti be planted with at least a one-foot distance in between.

Moreover, if you have cacti that will eventually grow into larger and wider plants, it is best to leave at least two to three feet distance between two such cacti.

Doing so allows them sufficient space to grow, which is crucial if you do not want the neighboring cactus’ to negatively impact or hinder each other’s physical appearance or growth potential.

To learn in detail about the importance of planting two cacti at a distance from one another, read.

Why is it Important to Leave Space Between Two Adjacent Cacti?

Cacti Need Space to Grow

While cacti can thrive in the same pot, this is only possible if the closely planted cactus species have similar heights and body types. If one cactus is expected to significantly outgrow its neighboring cacti, it is best to plant them with sufficient space in between.

Moreover, if two cacti are forced to grow close to one another, the chances are that neither will be able to grow up to their individual expected potential.

Since the individual cacti will be pressed against each other’s bodies, their overall development will be negatively impacted, and they will not grow as wide as they could have had they have been provided with enough space.

This can affect your indoor potted cactus collection’s visual appeal and may also impact the interest you have in caring for them.

Closely Planted Cacti Can Peirce and Damage One Another

Another reason why neighboring cacti need space to grow is because of their thorny bodies. While all cacti have spikes on their exteriors, the length and sharpness of a cactus’ thorn vary with different cactus species.

For instance, while the Globular cactus has super tiny spikes on its body, an Eve’s Needle cactus has long and sharp needle-like thorns that protrude outwards.

When two cacti are forcefully planted alongside one another, their thorny bodies will pierce and damage one another.

If a super spiky cactus-like Eve’s Needle cactus is pressed against a relatively less spiky Globular cactus, the Globular cactus will be thoroughly stabbed all over its body.

This will affect the cactus’ ability to hold water, will damage its vital plant organs, and will eventually cause the wounded cactus to die.

Cactus Roots Need Space

In general, cactus roots are adapted to growing deep within the Earth to find as much water as they absorb for storage. This ability allows the spiky plant to survive in the dry desert soil and live for over a century out in the wild.

However, if two cacti are planted alongside one another, this will badly affect their root development.

Not only will the roots not have enough space to spread around in search of water, but they might also headbutt against one another. This can damage their delicate bodies and impact their ability to absorb water. 

Infections and Infestations Can Spread Quickly

Another crucial reason for leaving space between two adjacent cacti is to minimize the chances of an infection or infestation spreading around like wildfire.

If one cactus has a rotting stem due to an intense fungal infection or is dying from a pest infestation, the other closely planted cacti will be at a high risk of exposure as well. 

As a result, a single infected cactus might kill your entire cacti collection.

Inspecting Individual Cacti Will be Difficult

Finally, although cacti do not demand regular attention, you must inspect their thorny bodies once in a while. This practice can help you identify an infection or infestation in its early stage, which will make treatment and cure much easier.

However, if different cacti are pressed against one another, an individual cactus’ inspection will become quite difficult and even dangerous.

Fairy Castle Cactus, Acanthocereus Tetragonus, Night-Blooming Cereus, Triangle Cactus, 4 inch Pot

Final Thoughts – Start Growing Your Cactaceae Family Now!

Although a cactus is known for being able to endure the harshest of living conditions, it does, however, need some space to grow.

Since different cactus species can grow quite tall and wide during their lifetimes, you must plant two adjacent cacti at a distance from one another. Doing so will allow the cactus space to grow to its full potential and will also save two adjacent cacti from piercing and killing one another.

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