How to Grow Cactus from Seed?

Cactus plants have gained popularity in recent times. As a result, we see many cactus plants all around, making it easier for people to know their existence.

Cactus plants bring a layer of aestheticism to a place if there is none. Cactus plants are available in different shapes, sizes, and types.

Cactus plants’ rise in popularity can be attributed to all the functions and aesthetics they serve. The growing popularity also means that people must invest in farming and growth. So, it becomes difficult for people to acquire them sustainably for a long time.

Cactus plants are very hardy, so it isn’t difficult to grow them. However, it may be difficult for you to know how to grow them sustainably in a way that doesn’t deplete their population.

You should consider how you can grow cactus plants independently. Cactus plants are popular because they’re not difficult to take care of.

You only need to know a few solid facts about cactus plants, and you can handle the rest pretty well on your own.

Beginners may find taking care of cactus plants difficult initially. However, those interested in keeping cactus plants shouldn’t lose heart since maintaining these plants becomes much easier with time.

We also find that you can find an alternative to buying cactus plants. You can grow these plants all on your own.

It involves a significant amount of knowledge regarding seeds and plants. It’s also necessary to know how cactus plants are different from other plants and the process of growing them from scratch.

In the article below, we’ll talk about all the ways you can grow a cactus plant from seeds and the things that you must take care of.

Steps to Harvest Seed

Before you know how to plant the seeds, you must know the different ways you can harvest cactus seeds. Most gardeners don’t harvest cactus seeds.

Instead, stem cuttings and offshoots to grow cactus plants. You can do this too, and it’s generally easier. However, you may also find that the alternative to cutting stems is better for you. Seeds are a more refined way of growing plants.

You can harvest seeds in the following ways:

Plants make flowers intending to carry seeds that will help with plant propagation. In many plants, it is flowers that eventually become seed heads.

Thus, flowers are the part of the plant that keeps it going. If you find that the flowers on your cactus plant are withering, you shouldn’t remove them.

Instead, it would be best if you took the time to let them be as is. When you keep these flowers the way they are, you can allow them to grow.

This phenomenon is called deadheading, and it allows the seeds to mature even when the flower is dead.

The stalks of flowers that are left out can also grow seeds. The green portion left behind when the petals die out can also grow seeds. Now that we know the many ways to harvest seeds, we can move on to the steps you may take to harvest the seeds.

Step 1: Gathering flowerheads or seed heads

The way you gather your flower heads will depend on the kind of flower you have. There are many types of seed heads. There are compact flower heads and larger flower heads.

The way you extract these has much to do with how they’re present in nature.

Compact Flower Heads

The flowers don’t just burst open in compact or smaller flower heads. They are smaller, which means you can cut them off as soon as they grow a little dry.

Smaller flowers like marigolds and dahlias are the ones you can use to gather seeds in the best way.

Legume and Flower Pods

Apart from flower heads, seeds also come in flower pods. Some seeds, like those of runner beans and peas, come packed in pods that grow in the place of flowers when the petals are gone.

These pods should not be allowed to dry on pods. Instead, it would be best if you tried to snip them away as soon as they start desiccating, even a little

Large Seed Head from Plants

Plants with larger flower bunches have larger seed heads. These seed heads need to be tipped down and carefully picked before you can cut them off from the flower stems.

Leafy Vegetables and Herbs

When growing leafy vegetables and herbs, you may not think they have any seeds. However, this isn’t the case. The seeds don’t show up because we keep on harvesting them.

However, if you let these plants grow out for a while, you’ll find that they start flowering, and seeds will eventually form.

Your safest bet with these plants is to let them grow yellow before you cut them off. These flower bunches will set seeds after the flowers die.

Gardeners should know about these flowers’ male and female counterparts to better reproduce within the plants.


You will have to collect slightly open mature cones and then dry them. Only open the scaly ones. Fresh seeds of some conifers will sprout immediately after being sprouted.

In cactus plants, you can collect the seeds in several ways. The most important thing to note is that not all cactus plants are flowering plants.

The cactus plants that aren’t flowering can only grow through stem cuttings and buds. The flowering cactus plants have fruits and flowers to access the seeds.

You can keep the seed heads in between tissue papers in a shady place so they can dry out for a while. This practice enables the moisture to leave the seeds completely to place them in the soil to sprout easily.

Step 2: Allow Seeds to Separate

Once they seem all dried out, you can work on separating the seeds from each other. Separating the seeds from each other is called threshing.

With most plants, you need to gather the seeds and separate them. However, you’ll have to use a different approach with cactus plants.

Cactus plants also have certain pods that have many seeds in them. You can shake these and remove them before they dry out.

You have to remove the pods or fruits from the cactus, and they should come off with relative ease. If they don’t, you have to leave them be for a little while.

You can also consider cutting the pods from the plants so you can gather the seeds easily.

Cactus plants have pods with seeds encased within the pod. So, you will have to use a clean, sharp knife to cut the pods vertically and expose the seeds.

Once the seeds are exposed, you can shake the pod out more thoroughly to get the seeds out. The seeds you get from the pods are ones you can use to grow plants.

There are other methods of separating seeds. They are as follows:

  1. If you have grains, you can separate these by stamping or beating.
  2. If you have plants like marigolds or zinnias, you need to open the trash since the seeds will be darker or plumper than the rest.
  3. For small seeds, you can rub a rolling pin on the trash.

Step 3: Wash the Seeds

The seed heads contain more than just seeds. If you sow the seeds as soon as you harvest them, you might not have to wash them.

However, if you want to store the seeds, ensure that the seeds are properly washed.

If the seeds are not clean, they might not last too long in storage. You can pick the larger-sized seeds with your hands. However, you will have to clean the seeds using a filter with the smaller seeds.

Step 4: Store the Seeds

When the seeds are completely dehydrated and free of dust and dirt, you can save them in a glass container with tight caps. The seeds should also be categorized accordingly to store the seeds as you want.

How long does it take for a cactus to grow from a seed?

The time it takes for a cactus to grow from seed depends on the species and the climate in which the plant is growing.

Cactus seedlings are very sensitive, and they need a great degree of protection from the sunlight. Thus, keep the seedlings indoors if you need ideal growth for a cactus. Later, you can slowly introduce them to the outdoors.

Before the plant can grow into its proper plants, they need to grow to germinate. The time it requires for the seed to germinate vastly depends on the species you grow the cactus from.

When you grow your cactus plants indoors, you’ll find that the cactus plant will germinate faster. The indoors provide a better environment for seed germination as it’s a better-controlled environment.

Growing these plants outdoors is likely to take you a long since the conditions tend to fluctuate. In indoor environments, germination may easily last from three to six months.

However, if you grow the seeds outside, it will take the seeds quite a while to germinate. They can take up to years to germinate properly.

The seeds will need the ideal temperature and moisture content to germinate in the environment outdoors.

If you can’t control the environment, it will take the seed a very long time to germinate properly. The seedlings of a cactus plant need proper protection to grow.

Even though cactus plants can grow easily in the sun and need desert conditions, cactus seedlings need milder conditions to grow. These conditions require that the cactus seedlings are properly protected from the sun instead.

For the first few years, the sun needs a lot of protection. Until the cactus plants are significantly tall until 3 inches, they need ample protection from the sun.

The cactus plants need to be kept away from sunlight to germinate. Once they are tall, you can slowly introduce the seedlings to the sun.

Favorable Conditions and Requirements for Growing Cactus from Seeds

Once your seeds have started to germinate, you must ensure that the right conditions are met to have the plant grow completely.

When germinating the seeds, there are times you will have to soak the seeds in water so they can begin their germination.

Once the seeds have germinated, there are also other things that the seed needs to grow. Plants need three major components to grow, and cactus seedlings are different. Cactus seedlings also need the following sunlight, water, and nutrients.

However, contrary to cactus plants, you have to keep cactus seedlings in relatively shady places. If you don’t do this, the cactus seedlings might be prone to burning out and dying.

Thus, this action will waste all your efforts, which is why it’s best to steer away from it.

Apart from keeping the seedlings in a shaded region, you must also provide them with moisture. Cactus seedlings require conditions to be extremely humid since they are different from cactus plants. The cactus seedlings need a lot of water to grow normally.

The cactus potting mix needs to be perfect for drainage. While cactus seedlings need a lot of moisture, they don’t necessarily need moisture that persists in the roots.

For this reason, you will also need a cactus potting mix that can allow for water drainage.

The temperature is also necessary. High temperatures will lead to extreme transpiration and water loss that cactus seedlings can’t handle.

Instead, a mild temperature is needed, at least initially, so that the seedlings can gather their strength to grow for a bit.

For the above reasons, it is easier to grow cactus plants indoors. You can easily monitor the amount of sunlight by keeping your plants in a shaded area.

You can also introduce a humidifier into the mix to retain the plant’s moisture easily.

As far as the light requirements go, you must place the plant in a bright area. The area should not be too dizzy with bright sunlight.

If you find a place in your home that’s getting filtered sunlight, you should go for it. While cactus plants grow in dry areas, they need a significant amount of humidity to germinate properly.

Thus, it will take you providing these conditions for the plant to grow well. Once you have provided these conditions and the plant starts growing a root network system, you can move forward with other adjustments.

The cactus seedlings only need this setup for a small window in time. Once that’s done, you can proceed with transplanting the cactus plant to another pot or part of your garden.

Cactus plants that you grow from seeds require a certain amount of time before they are strong enough for you to shift from one place to the next.

Favorable conditions are necessary for growth and stability in cactus plants.

We have mentioned earlier that cactus plants take time to grow. This fact means you have to take care of the seedlings first and foremost. When the seeds germinate, the plants will form small spines.

As they form these spines, you have to let your cactus seedlings breathe a little more. People will often use plastic wrap to hold in the plants’ moisture while germinating.

However, once the spines have arrived on the plants, it’s time to let the seeds be as they are.

You may want to switch between covering the cactus and then uncovering it as you establish that the seed is getting proper moisture.

If the seeds get enough moisture, you’re golden, and you don’t need to use plastic. You don’t need to cover the plant in a wrap anymore if they don’t.

You need to note that you can remove it once you recognize you don’t need the plastic wrap anymore. You don’t have to make any adjustments in the plant to move on more smoothly.

However, you must know that as soon as you uncover your cactus, you’re opening it up to a lot more moisture lost with air.

The increased evaporation means that you will likely have to follow a proper watering schedule to prevent the plant from dying.

If you want the plant to grow smoothly without much trouble, you should use fresh or distilled water. Fresh or distilled water doesn’t allow for the formation of algae or bacteria.

Can you use your tap water for this? Well, you’re going to look into whether or not your tap water smells or tastes like chlorine.

If you find that it does, you can refrain from using it on your cacti. Chlorine is a chemical substance, and its presence on your plants’ gentle roots may get too difficult for you to handle.

It can burn the young roots and may get too much for the roots to handle.

Even if the seedlings sprout, most experts tell you that you should protect these plants from any external damage as the plants are still extremely vulnerable.

Thus, it makes sense for you to want to protect them. The vulnerable position of the roots makes it so that you can help the plants hold in the moisture on themselves instead.

Applying a plastic wrap enables the plant to have a high humidity content. The high humidity content means that the seedlings can hold on to their water and nutrients content for a long time. It facilitates absorption until the roots are strong enough.

However, even though seedlings need a tonne of water, you must know that they don’t need an excessive amount of it.

Thus, you should look out and ensure that you’re not overwatering your plants because this will lead to rot later on. The rot will cause all your efforts to go down the drain then.

Perfect temperature and sunlight are also matters that you need to handle so that your plant can grow without any restrictions.

Perfect Soil to Sow Seeds

We know how important drainage is to plants. However, with cactus plants, the importance grows ten-fold. It is similar to cactus seedlings.

Cactus plants require intense drainage because if the water persists in the soil for too long, it may lead to root rot.

Hence, even when you’re growing cactus from seeds, it’s important to ensure that you know how the soil can impact the health of your plants.

The soil in cactus plants is often less important than having the correct potting mix. Cactus plants are different from regular plants because there isn’t a need for clay soil.

Cactus plants need drainage instead of the soil holding on to moisture. Thus, the soil we generally use in cactus plants is likely to be very different from the one you usually buy.

To understand the growth of cactus plants, you have to consider applying yourself in terms of potting mix. If you’re someone who doesn’t know much about cactus mixes, you may find the right kind of help at your local nursery or cactus plant store.

It’s easier for beginners or people looking at cactus plants as a hobby to go to their local nursery shops to gather more information about what soil would be perfect for cactus seeds.

Most nurseries will recommend their brands of potting mixes to you, but on further inquiries with the gardeners, you may find out if they use any mixtures of their own.

It’s relatively easy for you to make a potting mix independently as it is a mixture. If you plan on owning your cactus plants for a long time, this may be the best plan for you as it’s highly cost-effective.

If you want to ensure that your cactus plant grows to its very peak, then you may want to invest in a reputed potting mix which you can then amend in the way you want.

The perfect soil to sow your cactus seeds in, according to us, is by using a well-reputed potting mix that you can buy at the nursery store and then add half of its volume in granite.

Pumice or perlite. These materials make it easier for the soil to hold less water, making matters easier for you to take care of.

The point of the cactus soil is to ensure the proper drainage of the water. Cactus plants, especially seedlings, cannot handle extreme moisture in the root systems, preventing root formation.

If the soil’s water table remains as it is for a long time, then chances are the roots of the seeds are not going to get enough water to breathe. The lack of oxygen can make the roots die out, resulting in the dying out of the plants you’ve grown.

You should also ensure that the soil you make is pest-free for the perfect soil. A viable way to do this is by pasteurizing the soil. You can pasteurize the soil by placing it in a heatproof pan over 300 degrees and letting it heat evenly.

Growing via Seed or Growing via Cuttings [Which Results are Better]

We have stated before that there are two major ways to grow cactus plants. While the article’s main focus is on how to grow Cactus plants from seeds, it will do us well to know which of the two methods is better.

Growing Via Cutting

Growing cactus from its cuttings is easy to propagate your cactus plant. It may not be the easiest way, but it’s a whole lot quicker than growing cactus from seeds.

Growing cactus plants using cuttings is likely to happen when your cactus plant is on the verge of rot, or you want to grow other cactus plants from your cactus plant.

If you want more cactus plants of the same kind to gift to your friends and family, then this method may be perfect for you.

It would be best to know that growing cactus from stem cuttings involves a fair bit of effort. If you have succulents or cactus plants that you want to gift to your family, this method will give you the best results in the least amount of time.

The effort with these cutting is gathering and preparing them from rooting. The method involves taking a piece from an already existing cactus plant and allowing the cutting to dry out and form a callus.

Once the callus is formed and the cutting has dried out for a few days, you can place it in a potting mix and wait for the roots to form.

Give the cactus plant the right temperature, light, and water conditions once the roots are formed, and it will grow easily.

We also find that this method is easier than other methods like growing seeds.

Growing via Seeds

Growing cactus plants using seeds is another way to increase the cactus plants in your home. This method generally takes a long time, and you might not always get your desired results.

The success rate for cactus plants that you grow from seeds is generally lower.

These plants also take an exceptionally long time to grow. We find that the cactus plants that we grow from seeds take a lot of time even to germinate when growing them.

Thus, you have to take care and give yourself an ample amount of time so they can grow to the greatest capacity.

If you want to grow a rare cactus that doesn’t have pups or cuttings that you can access, the seed method is the only option you have.

You also need to note you are in charge of all the phases that your plants go through when you are using the seed method.

This fact means that you can control your plant’s growth from beginning to end, and that enables you to have more control over how your plant will grow.

Growing rare cactus plants this way enables you to have better control over your plants’ general quality, which is why you may want to invest your time wisely with these plants.

Conversely, there is also the matter of using up time on a single plant that doesn’t take. However, growing a cactus plant from a seed is a great practice if you want to learn more about taking care of cactus plants as you can watch the plant go through its many phases and gain knowledge about how you can take better care of it.

If you successfully grow cactus plants from seeds, they are likely to be healthier and last for a long time. However, they also take a long time to grow.

Thus, if you’re expecting quick results, it’s better to go for other methods of cactus propagation.

Is there any specific pot required or sow directly in the land?

When you’re growing cactus plants from seeds, it is recommended that you grow the seeds in a pot instead of a pot. This recommendation is because growing plants in a pot make the plant more mobile.

We know that cactus seedlings have minute requirements that you will need to follow to the T. Thus, it’s easier to do this in a smaller environment like a pot instead of the ground.

You can take care of drainage with pots too. You can’t do this as easily if you place your cactus in the pot. It’s the same case with sunlight.

To germinate, cactus seeds need the right amount of sunlight. For this, it’s easier to move your cactus plans around in a pot.

When choosing a pot, you should go with one that has many holes in the bottom for better drainage.

Best time to grow from seeds?

The best time to grow cactus from seeds is when it’s a little warm but not too warm.

Early spring has the perfect temperature and sunlight hours, so you can sow your seeds and see them get enough nourishment too.

Special care for Cactus Babies

Cactus seedlings of babies need the right kind of care. The way for you to do this is in the following ways:

  1. Place in an area with indirect sunlight
  2. Provide enough water but do not overwater
  3. Pick the correct potting mix to provide nutrients
  4. Pick the correct pot for proper drainage
  5. Do not use water with chlorine as the plants may burn

Final Words

Concluding, if you want to grow your cacti from seed, you need to follow these steps for the best results. There are many techniques for starting seeds, and you can try them experimentally to see which one works best for you.

However, in almost all cases, you should start your seeds indoors and protect them from the weather by keeping them indoors until they are ready to move to the outside.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

How long can a small cactus go without water?

A small cactus can live for up to 100 days without water. This is because they use a lot less water than other plants do. They also don’t need much light, so they only need indirect sunlight through a window.

If you leave them outside during winter then they won’t die, although some may lose their top leaves. Watering your cacti regularly helps prevent the growth of bacteria.

How long does it take for a cactus to grow?

A cactus takes around two years to reach maturity. As with many plants, the cactus needs water, sun, and good air circulation in order to thrive.

How big do Cactus/Succulents get?

Cacti are some of the most varied and interesting of all plants. Although a cactus is typically a large, woody plant, many cactus species have small, globular, or columnar bodies.

Cactus sizes vary between species. Some species have a large, trunk-like body, while others are small and grow in clumps or mats. Leaf size also varies from species to species.