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Growing Cacti from Seeds: A Step by Step Guide

I’ve always loved growing plants from seeds. These cacti were no exception. This post will walk you step by step on how to grow cacti from seeds at home!

Step 1: Gather Supplies

The first step to growing cacti from seeds is to 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 from seeds 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. An added bonus is 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. 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. 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. It was 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 sites such as etsy or amazon that sell false seeds as cacti seeds. So just be sure to check the reviews. I like to inspect the photos in the reviews to see what other experiences were growing cacti from seeds. 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. 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. It works 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. This way you can avoid 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. For bonsai projects, cacti, and 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!

Step 3: Add Seeds and Water

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

This next step is to wait for seeds to germinate. I am purposely separating this as an individual step because it is very important. If the moisture level is too high the soil and seeds can mold. This means it is important to check daily for mold. This is easy for my because I am incredibly impatient and obsessively check my seeds anyways. When the moisture gets too high remove lid for a day then re-cover, this allows some moisture to evaporate. If the soil dries out too much add more water.

It isn’t a big deal if you do spot some mold as long as you catch it early. Just take the lid off and let the soil dry almost completely re-water and then re-cover the container. Once the seeds germinate you will start to be able to see your new plant babies! they will be small green bumps or seedlings with 2 leaves. The cactus will grow between the leaves and eventually they will disappear.

Step 6: Once spines start to develop remove lid

Once the cacti develop spines and are about the size of a pea it is time to remove the lid. This also means you need to adjust the watering schedule. This will allow the plants to mature and grow stronger roots. The watering should be complete saturation, and then letting the soil dry completely between watering.

Please read my succulent and cactus watering instructions on my blog if you want more specific details about watering. Start by watering lightly and allow soil to dry between watering. 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!

Step 7: Repotting

At this point your cacti will be ready to be replanted into deeper containers. I like to use either a nursery plug tray or some 2 inch nursery pots. Check out some of the options there are on amazon linked below! Once you’ve done this you just have to water you cacti and watch them grow. Once they have reached your desired size you can give them as gifts, sell them, or repot them for yourself! Enjoy! Check out my progress pictures below! Please drop any questions or stories in the comments below. I love hearing about your experiences, and am happy to help in any way i can. Thank you for reading my post about growing cacti from seeds.

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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