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How to grow cactus from seeds and how cactus origaneted

Cacti are wonderful, low-maintenance alternatives to standard plants. Molded by dry desert climates, they don’t require much water or care and can survive extreme weather conditions. Because of this, Cactus plants are a perfect option for new plant owners and travelers.

Part 1

Part 1 of 3:

How to Plant a Cactus from Seed

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  • If you're buying seeds, you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them for sale. Many brick-and-mortar garden supply stores sell cactus seeds, while online shopping sites can allow you to effortlessly browse hundreds of varieties before ordering.

  • If, on the other hand, you want to pick your own seeds, start by finding the seed pods or fruits on your cactus. Usually, these are brightly-colored offshoots of the main cactus body which bear a flower. When the flower falls off, the pod or fruit is ripe and is ready to be harvested (assuming it has been pollinated).

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  • "Ripe" pods with mature seeds should come off with a slight twist of the hand, leaving the interior fiber/cotton on the cactus. If the pod does not come off easily, it is not ready to be removed.

  1. 3

  • Obtaining the seeds from tropical varieties of cactus can be different than obtaining the seeds from a desert cactus, but the general concept is the same — remove the fruit from the plant and open it up to expose the seeds. For example, the seeds of a Christmas Cactus, a type of tropical cactus, can be harvested by removing the blueberry-like fruit and squeezing or tearing it open to produce small black seeds.

  1. 4

  • Cacti require well-draining soil, especially desert varieties that are vulnerable to diseases from standing water. Try a mix of ⅓ compost, ⅓ horticultural sand, and ⅓ perlite.

  • If the soil you use for planting hasn't been pasteurized (it should say whether or not on the packaging), you may want to consider heating it in the oven at 300o F (about 150o C) for half an hour. This kills any pests or pathogens in the soil.

  1. 5

  • Be patient as you wait for your cactus to germinate. Depending on the species of cactus you are growing, germination can take anywhere from several weeks to several months.

  • Tropical cacti are used to the shady environment under the jungle canopy and thus generally require less sun than desert cacti. You can usually get away with growing a tropical cactus in a brightly-lit spot that receives no direct sunlight. For instance, hanging pots under a shaded awning are a great location for tropical cacti.

  1. 6

  • If you don't live in the tropics, you'll probably need to grow your tropical cacti indoors, where temperature and access to sunlight is much easier to control

Part 2

Part 2 of 3:

How to Care for a Cactus

  1. 1

  • It's worth noting, however, that this will increase the rate at which water evaporates from the soil. This means that you'll need to start watering. Try to do so cautiously — don't let the soil dry out completely, but don't ever leave standing water in the container from over-watering.

  • Note that many tropical cacti won't have spines, so in this case simply remove the cover once the seedling sprouts up through the soil.

  1. 2

  • To repot your cactus, use sturdy gloves or a spade to remove the entire plant, roots and all, from its growing medium. Place it in a new, larger container with a the same type of soil, pack the soil around the cactus, and water.

  1. 2 water

  • Remember that cacti experience slow, gradual growth. Thus, they don't need very much water. Watering more frequently than is necessary can lead to problems for the plant, including root disorders that can cause the eventual death of the plant.

  • Tropical cacti are something of an exception to this rule, as they are naturally acclimatized to more humid environments than desert cacti. While you can get away with a little more watering if you have a tropical cactus, you should still wait until the soil dries out before each new watering.

  • 1 .4 The precise amount of fertilizer you should use can vary based on both the species of cactus you are growing and its size. Specific information should be on the fertilizer's packaging

Part 3

Part 3 of 3:

How to Deal with Common Cactus Problems

  1. 1

  • If your plant has rot, it may appear swollen, soft, brownish, and/or decayed, with the possibility of splits in its surface. Often, but not always, this condition moves from the bottom of the plant up. The options for treating rot after it has set in are limited. You can try to remove the cactus from its pot, cut away any slimy, blackened roots and any dead tissue above ground, and re-plant it in a new container with clean soil. However, if the damage to the roots is extensive, it may die anyway. In many cases, it's necessary to discard plants with rot to prevent the spread of the fungus to other adjacent plants.

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  • However, you won't want to throw a cactus with etiolated growth into intense, direct sunlight immediately. Instead, gradually increase the amount of sun the plant receives each day until you notice that its growth has become normal. Exposing any plant to drastically increased sunlight can be stressful for the plant, while exposing an etiolated cactus to such levels of sunlight can be fatal.

  1. 3

  • Natural corking usually starts at the base of the plant and can slowly creep upwards. If the corking starts elsewhere on the plant, this can be a sign of a problem. For instance, if the top of the cactus and the side facing the sun bear this weathered appearance but the base of the cactus does not, this can be a sign that the cactus is receiving too much sun, rather than the result of natural corking.


The family Cactaceae comprises many species of flowering plants with succulent (water-storing) stems. The presence of a structure called the areole sets cacti apart from all other plants. Areoles give rise to flowers, new branches, and spines. There are many different types of spines—some are soft and feathery to protect the plant from intense sunlight, while others are tough and sharp for protection. Cacti may be one of the few sources of water in arid regions, so spines prevent animals from accessing their supply of water. To prevent water loss, cacti are covered with a waxy substance called a cuticle. Another way they conserve water is by opening structures called stomata at night, rather than during the day like most plants. Stomata are microscopic pores on the plant through which carbon dioxide enters for photosynthesis.

Cacti vary in size based on their species. Perhaps the smallest cacti species is Blossfeldia liliputana, a South American plant that’s less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter when fully grown. The tallest cactus, the Mexican giant cardon, reaches over 60 feet (18 meters).


Almost all genera of cacti arose in the Americas and are distributed from Canada to Chile. They are now found in many parts of the world, especially Australia, South Africa, and Mediterranean countries.

Cacti are sometimes thought of as strictly desert plants, but many species, such as the prickly pear cactus, are found in a number of habitats.


Cacti are flowering plants that produce seeds. They are able to bloom every year, but they will produce an abundance of flowers in response to heavy rains. Flowers differ in appearance and scent to attract specific pollinators, such as insects and bats. Cacti are slow growers and can live for many years. For example, saguaro cacti can live up to 175 years. They do not grow their first arms until they are between 75 and 100 years old.


Cacti populations are stable overall. Certain species, however, are declining due to removal from the wild to be used as ornamental plants in xeriscaped lawns (landscaped areas that require little or no irrigation).


The root systems of most cacti spread out close to the surface to absorb as much rainwater as possible. Some species are so good at storing water that they can live in drought conditions for several years.


Cactus & Succulent Society of New Zealand, Inc.

Colorado State University Herbarium

University of Texas

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

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