Growing Cacti from Seeds: A Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Obtain all the supplies you need! All you need is a good quick draining cactus soil and perlite, some cactus or succulent seeds, a shallow container that has a lid, and a small watering bottle.

I always mix my soil with extra perlite to make the soil more porous so that it drains quickly. This is especially important for growing cacti and succulents because they do not like wet soil, meaning soil that doesn’t dry out quickly after watering. The roots will rot and unfortunately this will almost always result in sudden death for your succulents and cacti. I have not successfully been able to rescue a succulent after it gets root rot. If I can ever figure out a way to do this I will share, but so far I’ve had no luck! Luckily this is easy to prevent with proper soil and drainage!

The soil I used is linked on the image below:

The perlite I used is linked below:

The container I used is actually a recycled take out container from my local Chinese restaurant. These black containers with the clear lids are quiet honestly my favorite for seed starting or propagation projects. You could use any old container, however it is important that the lid is clear so the light can get through, and the black base is great when it come to trapping warmth. When starting the seeds it’s important to trap in some moisture while the seeds germinate. I will go into more details about this later, but long story short is it’s important to have a lid of sorts for this purpose. My favorite thing is after the lid is removed, it makes a PERFECT drip tray to place under your tray later. If you don’t conveniently have one of these containers laying around, or want an example, click the link below to see a similar container on amazon!

I was lucky to find the two packs of Ferry-Morse Cacti mix seeds at the hardware store early summer when their seed packets are on display. They are unfortunately not on amazon however on amazon they have the Seed Needs brand cactus seeds linked in the image below! I have bought seeds from this brand multiple times and am always pleased with the result (side note: I highly recommend the cucamelon seeds!). I do plan on purchasing these to try out at some point as a comparison. It is important to buy seeds from a reputable source and ALWAYS look at the reviews/ review photos. There are a lot of listings on the many shopping sites such as ebay, etsy or amazon, that sell false seeds as succulent or cacti seeds. So just be sure to check the reviews and inspect the photos in the reviews to see what other experiences were. Click the image below to check out the Seed Needs cacti seeds!

The last thing you will need is a watering bottle that has some sort of squirt nozzle, this could easily be in the form of a old water bottle with a hole punched in the lid, or if you really want to get fancy with it you can invest in one like the one i used! I will say this bottle has been worth every penny its better to get water to the roots than a spray bottle, and is great for watering succulents. Check out the link below if you’re interesting in buying the “fancy” bottle 🙂

Step 2: Mix Soil and Perlite

Mix perlite and soil to make a special seed starting soil. It is important to have fast drying, porous soil for cacti and succulents to prevent from root rot! Adding extra perlite to cactus soil is the easiest way to make a great succulent soil mix without having to buy and mix each individual ingredient. Typically i will mix 2 parts soil to 1 part perlite for typical succulents and house plant applications. But for bonsai projects, cacti, and seed starting (cacti or succulent seed starting) I like to do a mix that is equal parts. This makes the soil much more porous and fast drying which is perfect for this application!


This step is fairly straightforward, you need to sprinkle the seeds on top on the soil and then water them. The trick is to get an even coat of moisture without soaking it to the point of having soggy soil.

Step 4: put lid on and place container under a bright plant light

Step 5: wait for seeds to germinate, check daily for mold, if moisture is too high remove lid for a day then re cover

Step 6: once spines start to develop remove lid

Step 7: water lightly and allow soil to dry between watering

Step 8: as cacti continue to grow increase the amount of water and time between watering

once cacti are about the side of a dime, plant them in individual plugs in a plug tray

once they fill their plug in the plug tray they can be potted and gifted or sold!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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