How to grow cactus plants from seed

How to grow cactus plants from seed

Cacti are fun, easy and cheap to grow from seed – we show you how.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do To do in June

Do To do in July

Do To do in August

Do To do in September

Do To do in October

Do To do in November

Do To do in December

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.

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You Will Need

  • Cacti seed
  • Small plastic and terracotta pots
  • Free-draining compost or cactus compost
  • Vermiculite or fine grit
  • Sheet of glass
  • Fork or spoon
  • Tweezers
  • Gravel

Step 1

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

Growing cactus plants from seed - sowing cacti seed
Growing cactus plants from seed – sowing cacti seed

Step 2

Gently sprinkle a thin layer of vermiculite or fine grit 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.

Growing cactus plants from seed - covering cacti seed with vermiculite
Growing cactus plants from seed – covering cacti seed with vermiculite

Step 3

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.

Growing cactus plants from seed - cactus seedling
Growing cactus plants from seed – cactus seedling

Step 4

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.

Growing cactus plants from seed - pricking out cactus seedlings
Growing cactus plants from seed – pricking out cactus seedlings

Step 5

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.

Growing cactus plants from seed - potting on cactus seedlings
Growing cactus plants from seed – potting on cactus seedlings

Step 6

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.

Growing cactus from seed - adding gravel around cactus seedlings
Growing cactus from seed – adding gravel around cactus seedlings
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Be patient! These cacti took a year to reach this size from a summer sowing.

Photo: Getty Images.