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How to grow cacti from seed

You will need

  • Cacti seed
  • Small plastic and terracotta pots
  • Free-draining compost or cactus compost
  • Vermiculite
  • Sheet of glass
  • Fork or spoon
  • Tweezers
  • Gravel
Do it: all year round
Takes just: 20 minutes to sow


Raising 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. Follow our steps to growing your own cacti from seed, and see which varieties you end up with.

How to do it


Fill a pot with a moist, gritty, loam-based compost, or cacti compost. Gently firm down and level the surface. Scatter your mixed cactus seeds over the surface, taking care not to sow them too thickly.


Gently sprinkle a thin layer of vermiculite over the seeds, covering the whole surface of the compost. Leave the pot in a greenhouse or on a warm windowsill, covered with a clear plastic bag to preserve soil moisture. 


Seedlings will develop within a few weeks. Remove the plastic bag and water when the compost becomes dry, but spray the surface with water regularly, to keep it moist.


The following spring, your seedlings should be ready to transplant. Use a fork or spoon to gently tease out individual cacti, taking care not to catch the spikes on your skin.


Part-fill a small pot with gritty compost and gently ease the cactus seedling into place. Use tweezers to ensure the seedling is not sitting at an angle. 


Fill around the seedling with compost and water well. Add more compost if necessary and then use the spoon to arrange gravel around the seedling. Keep in a sunny spot such as a windowsill, and pot on as and when you need to.

Our tip

Be patient! These cacti took a year to reach this size from a summer sowing.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to grow cacti from seed
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Carlaj 24/11/2011 at 15:27

My teenage son has developed a passion for cacti. I hadn't thought about growing cacti from seed but having read how easy it is I shall give it a try and involve Danny too.

flowering rose 23/12/2012 at 17:26

I have alot of cacti,some are very old and out growing the pots,this year they have got a yellow tinge to them,yet they have been treated the same as always,I wonder if the lack of sun was the problem or too cold,only one flowered this year.

Zoomer44 23/12/2012 at 20:22

I've only about half a dozen cacti now which I 've had for years, in 2011 after growing them in the GH for the summer, must have over watered them because six plants caved  in over the course of that winter and went gooy inside.

Mine get vey little sun and are grown indoors, some on a window ledge which only gets sun the last hour in an evening during the summer and the other plants get no direct sun at all.

I'm no expert as mine seem to thrive from neglect. They have never flowered although they sometimes have what look like dead flower heads on them. Yours could be pot bound and may need potting up,I'm happy to be wrong though.

If you do pot up, only pot up one pot size, I've found they grow better in smallish pots.

finwatch 03/03/2015 at 11:20

I have tried several times to do this but thet gtow to about 1/4 inch then die off. Help.

Blue Onion 03/03/2015 at 17:44

I've grown them from dragon fruit seeds.  Just buy a dragon fruit to eat, and save a number of seeds for planting.  I just wiped them off on a paper towel spaced out and let them dry.  A week later I planted them in some soil, just lightly covered with a bit of soil compost and kept them moist covered on the windowsill.  They sprouted within a week or two, and grew into happy large plants after several potting-on's.  

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