How To Grow A Cactus From Seed

Cactus plants are a great addition to the houseplants as they enjoy sunny, dry, and hot conditions. Their fleshy stems have the ability to store water, making them easy to maintain. Aside from the slow process of germination, growing cactus plants from seeds are fairly easy, just like other half-hardy plants.

Cacti can be planted in an indoor plant display or in separate pots. You can also use seeds to grow cacti in terrariums. Here is how to grow cactus plants from seeds:

Steps to Grow Cactus Plants from Seeds

It is easy to grow a cactus plant from seeds, but be sure to follow all the steps to ensure the healthy growth of your plant. Here are the steps you can follow:

1. Obtaining the Seeds

Firstly, you need to get seeds from any good gardening and seed stores. There are plenty of options to choose from when it comes to growing cacti. They come in a range of sizes, shapes, and species. Another way to obtain seeds is by picking them from healthy and mature cactus plants in your garden.

The seeds are located inside the pod of flower-bearing areas of your plant. Ensure you carefully remove these seeds by opening a pod that is moist and storing them properly.

2. Harvesting from Pods

If you plan to obtain seeds from your existing cactus plant, you would first need to remove the pods from the plant. Here’s how to do it:

  • Find the pods that are moist but are not wet, and carefully remove them from the plant.
  • After removing all mature pods, use a disinfected, sharp knife to open the pods.
  • Scrape the seeds gently from the pod. The color of the seeds will vary based on the specie of cacti you select. Most are black, but some have reddish dots. Some are bigger in size, and others are small.
  • After removing the seeds, place them on a dry towel before planting. 

3. Soil Preparation

You need a well-draining planting mixture to efficiently use the seeds, as cacti are vulnerable to multiple diseases if the roots get exposed to overwatering. Use a cactus mix or add sand and perlite to the soil if you don’t have a cactus mixture.

Put the soil in an oven to heat for a few minutes. This will remove any bacteria or pests from the soil. You don’t need this step if you are purchasing the cactus mixture.

Add the mixture to the pot and properly water it. Sprinkle the cactus seeds on top before covering them with another layer of soil. Use a lid or clear wrap to cover the container and place it under indirect sunlight.

4. Germination Process

Ensure the pot is not exposed to direct and bright sunlight, as this can result in overwhelming the seeds and damage their growth. Leave the pot or container for a few weeks or months for the germination process. It might take longer based on the specie of the plant.

Once the germination process is done, you will notice a small sprout or spine in the soil. Remove the wrap or lid on the pot for a few hours every day. Gradually increase the duration so that the plant gets accustomed to the environment.

5. Watering Schedule

When you begin removing the cover, it is also time to start watering your new plant. It is important to start with a small amount of water since the cover already creates moisture in the pot or container. It is best to create a watering schedule to prevent the new plant from dying without the cover.

Start small and gradually increase the frequency of watering the plant. Ensure you check the soil and only water it when the soil becomes slightly dry.

6. Repotting the Plant

You will have to repot the plant once the seeds have overgrown. Make sure to select the pot or container wisely. Here are some tips to help you find the right one:

  • Select the container with sufficient drainage holes to allow the plant to drain excess water and prevent root rot. Unglazed ceramic and terracotta pots make great cactus pots.
  • You can also use a container that can quickly drain water and prevent soil clogging.
  • Get a bigger pot or container, as the cactus needs room to thrive even though it grows slowly.

After you have selected the right pot or container, you can repot the plant by:

  • Removing the plastic wrap or cover from the plant
  • Creating a balanced soil mixture for the new pot
  • Gently remove the plant from the existing pot or container and place it in the new pot
  • Add in the new soil mixture
  • Water the plant three to four days after repotting it

There is no need to add a cover or wrap on this plant.

7. Recovery Time

After the repotting, the plant will need time to recover and adjust to the new changes. It is important to understand that repotting can be stressful for all plants, including cacti. Therefore, the recovery time ensures the plant doesn’t face any damages or challenges.

If the plant was previously under ample sunlight, place it under a shaded area for a week during recovery. Gradually reintroduce it to sunlight until it is ready to take direct light.

8. Watering the Plant

Cacti have low requirements for water, unlike other plants, since they can store water. You must always check the soil to see if it is dry before watering the plant. Once the plant reaches full maturity, you can start watering it every month.

During winters, only water the cactus based on its needs. Overwatering can cause multiple issues and damage the roots. Use a cactus fertilizer in the growing months to help the plant enjoy optimal growth.

These eight steps can allow you to easily grow a cactus from seeds. Be sure to monitor the plant and treat it immediately in case of any damage.

Tips for Aftercare

  • Avoid watering the cactus more than once a week during summer. Water the cactus once every two to three weeks during winter.
  • After a few years, repot the cactus using fresh compost for healthier growth.
  • Always monitor the cactus for any fungal or bacterial problems of insect or pest contamination. Ensure you immediately treat the plant to prevent it from spreading to the roots.

Where and When to Plant a Cactus

Choosing when and where to plant a cactus using seeds is a crucial step for the healthy growth of the plant. Cactus plants require well-drained compost and a sunny area to thrive. Select an east or south-facing window or spot to plant the cactus. You can find a warmer spot during the colder seasons.

When you are growing a cactus using seeds, it is best to sow them in early summer, spring, or late winter as the temperatures are generally warmer and days are longer. However, you can also sow the cactus seeds in winter and autumn if you have additional heating and grow lights.

Growing Cactus with Seeds during Winter

The only way a cactus can efficiently grow using seeds in winter is when there is sufficient heating available indoors. You will need to grow lights to be able to grow a cactus in the colder season. However, cold-hardy species of cacti can be grown during this season, like prickly pear.

Make sure you check the temperature requirement of the species before you decide to grow a cactus using seeds in winter.

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Wrapping Up

Growing a cactus using seeds is an affordable option to plant a cactus in your garden. With a range of species available, you can buy the seeds online or harvest the seeds from existing cactus plants. Be sure to carefully follow the steps and create a proper watering schedule for the optimal growth of your cactus.

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