How to grow cactus plants from seed
Cacti are fun, easy and cheap to grow from seed – we show you how.
Published: Saturday, 9 May, 2020 at 5:05 pm
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Raising cactus plants, or cacti, from seed is simple and rewarding. What’s more, many seed companies sell packets of mixed cacti seed, so you’re never quite sure what you’re going to grow.
As for the mixes, there are lots of fun themes to go for, including rare species, fast-growers, best flowers, hardy cacti or mixes of certain genera.
How to grow cactus plants
Grow cacti in free-draining compost, ideally peat-free cactus compost or peat-free multi-purpose compost with added vermiculite, grit or perlite, to aid drainage. Water sparingly from March to September but avoid watering completely for the rest of the year.
In this Golden Rules video, Stan Griffin of Craig House Cacti reveals his three top tips on growing cactus plants with success, including when to water and feed, and when not to. He also gives advice on how to take cuttings from cacti:
More on growing cactus plants:
Follow our steps to growing your own cacti from seed, below.
All you need to know about growing cactus plants from seed, for the perfect house plant display. Step-by-step how-to guide from BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine.
I know of no other plant that can take as much abuse and neglect as the cacti and still provide us with profuse blooms and its unique appearance. They are hardy, resilient and take up very little space. Often they will grow where no other plant will. They are truly the perfect windowsill plant. I hope my low prices will make it possible for you to enjoy these magnificent plants. I have listed a few of my favorites below.
Many thanks to our friends at Sticky Situation Cacti for the use of their photos. Please visit their site for live plants.
Most cacti seeds require light for germination. For maximum germination, we highly recommend using our VG07 Seedcover for tiny and pelleted seeds.
CACTUS CARE TIPS FOR SEEDS/PLANTS
PLANTING YOUR SEEDS
With a little patience and effort, you should have no problem raising beautiful cacti from the seeds you receive from us. Please remember that the seeds will sprout over a period of time, so don’t be disappointed when only a few first start to sprout. The others will arrive given time. Usually most of the seeds will sprout between 3-10 weeks.
Bottom heat will give faster results, but is not an absolute necessity. If you can provide bottom heat, then by all means do so. If you cannot, then use shallow containers that can be covered with glass or plastic. The containers should be large enough to allow for 2 inches of crushed gravel or sharp sand (aquarium sand will do fine) to facilitate drainage. On top of the sand or gravel, you will need to place about 2 inches of sterilized soil. I recommend a mixture of 1 part sharp sand and 1 part peat humus. It is very important that the soil is sterilized. Heating soil in an oven at 200 degrees for 15 minutes is a good way to assure it is properly sterlized.
Soak the soil with water mixed with fungicide. This will prevent damping off later on. Allow excess water to drain off. Press seeds lightly into soil and cover with about 1/8 inch of soil. Cover with glass or plastic and place in warm location. Keep soil damp but not wet. I suggest misting the surface regularly.
After the seeds have begun to sprout, leave the glass or plastic in place. Leave on for about two weeks. In the meantime make sure the container does not receive direct sunlight as this may kill the plants. When the cover is removed, make sure that the plants do not receive any strong drafts or sudden temperature changes. It will take a couple of days for the seedlings to become hardy.
CARING FOR YOUR PLANTS.
A few tips on caring for your new plants:
Never use tap water or alkaline water. Rainwater is best but tap water that has set in an open container for 2 days will be fine.
Cacti cannot tolerate high alkaline soil. Check your soil for ph if you have problems with cacti.
Use fungicide mixed in with your water often when watering.
Use very weak solutions of plant food when feeding. Too much fertilize will distort your plants.
Never expose young seedlings to direct sunlight. They need bright, diffused sunlight.
The quickest way to kill a cacti is overwatering it. Let soil dry out before rewatering.
Cacti are succeptable to aphids, mealy bugs, white flies and spider mites. Treat soil with systemic insecticides and add paradichlorobenzene crystals to soil if possible.
If a plant show signs of rot due to overwatering, cut out the affected part immediately. If the top of the plant is cut off, let it air dry for a few days then repot. Often it will reroot itself.
Brown scarring is often a sign of too much sunlight. Move plants to a more protected location.
If possible, let plants spend first winter in original planter the seeds were sowed in. If overcrowding will not allow this, try to disturb the roots as little as possible.
OTHER CACTI AND SUCCULENT RELATED PAGES ON THE NET
The Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum and the
Arid Lands Newsletter, both at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Serving gardeners since 1992
State of Mississippi Seedmen’s Permit #C-391, Ohio 90152, Minnesota 20086777
Exotic and Unusual Cacti Seeds from around the World