Growing Cactus from Seed: Step-By-Step Guide
In general, all those lovers of cactus acquire new individuals for their collections in nurseries that offer them young or adults. Today, many are passionate about the idea of growing cactus from seeds harvested from their own collection in order to observe the entire development of the plant until its first flowering.
In addition, the propagation by seed is likely obtaining of hybrids, crested plants, attractive variegations and other growths of high ornamental value. This method is the only one carried out by nurseries or other companies dedicated to the sale of cacti to offer rare varieties (these rarities are always more expensive).
For all this, we offer you some essential tips that you should know in germinating cactus seeds and protect the cactus seedlings (you can achieve attractive varieties and contemplate the natural cycle of cacti without having to go to specialized nurseries).
Do Cacti Have Seeds?
These exotic plants are more and more popular in our country. But even many experienced growers do not always know if cacti have seeds and what they look like because these plants multiply vegetatively more often.
In specialized stores, you can buy a variety of seeds of these plants today. Anyone interested in growing cactus from seed should know that the process is long but very interesting. Newcomers to indoor floriculture usually choose the seeds of double-formed, fast-growing cacti that bloom after a number of years, for example interchanging or a mix of seeds from different varieties.
It is necessary to know the types of cacti and what the seed should look like, so as not to avoid disappointment in the future. Often growers who use seeds for propagation for the first time fail to achieve the desired result. In the photo below, you can see what the seeds of cacti look like.
How to Grow Cactus from Seed
You can collect seeds from plants in your collection. For pollination, you must have two cacti grown from seeds or cuttings from different plants. The flowers, which are intended to take up the pollen, should be fully opened so that the pollen can be easily separated and collected on a brush. From a flowering plant, pollen is transferred to another flower. After a while, a berry will appear in place of the flower.
For the propagation of cactus seeds, it is necessary to use fully ripe berries. It has to be broken very carefully and get the seeds. You can keep them in a paper bag for two years by writing the name of the variety and the date of collection of the seeds.
Germinating Cactus Seeds
If you want to grow cactus from seeds, make sure the variety or species you choose is not susceptible to genetic mutations and keeps all variety traits. Before planting cactus seeds, you need to learn the basic rules.
The seeds of these plants germinate slowly. Seedlings also develop slowly. Despite the fact that seed germination requires heat and moisture, it should be borne in mind that the seedlings of these plants are very susceptible to various fungal diseases. For this reason, when sowing, it is necessary to maintain a certain temperature and humidity, in order to prevent the development of fungal diseases.
Seeds need to be soaked for a day. Usually use a weak solution of potassium permanganate for this. It is not recommended to use growth stimulants for this purpose – their effect on cacti is not yet fully understood.
Open the bags of seeds over a piece of paper. Cacti seeds are so small that they look more like dust. Therefore, such a precaution will help preserve the seed. Soaking will not only awaken the seeds but will also clear up the remnants of the pulp. This significantly reduces the risk of mold in the soil, provides a healthy environment for growing cactus from seeds.
In order for the seeds to germinate, it is necessary to keep the air temperature in the range of +26 to +30°C during the day and lower it by ten degrees at night.
Cactus seeds can be sown in wide, low containers, that have been pre-washed with very hot water but not boiling water. Lay a convex shard of clay on the drain opening in the bottom of the container. At the bottom, put a drainage layer of expanded clay or small pebbles, which has been treated with boiling water.
Fill the seed germination vessels with 2/3 of the loose cacti soil mixture. It should contain a large amount of perlite or coarse sand. Many experienced growers believe that the soil should be calcined in the oven or microwave. In other words, disinfected to provide maximum protection against fungal diseases.
From above, the soil mixture is covered with a one-centimeter layer of gravel, broken brick or sand (coarse-grained). The material is first sieved, bringing the grain to 2 mm; then washed to remove small particles, dried and spread on the soil surface. This layer will not become a breeding ground for pathogens of various diseases.
Planting Cactus Seeds
Sow the cactus seeds evenly over the entire surface of the previously prepared container. To do this, fold a sheet of paper in half, pour the seeds into the fold and lightly tap the paper slightly tilted towards the ground and pour the seeds evenly over the soil surface.
Due to the fact that cacti grow slowly, the seeds are to be sown densely. After sowing, press them gently into the soil, using any object with a smooth surface. Since the seeds need light to germinate, don’t sprinkle soil over them. Do not water the soil but spray with a spray bottle.
Cover the container with glass and put it in a place with artificial heating. It is necessary for the soil to warm up to +30°С during the day and to +20°С at night.
Pricking Out Cactus Seedlings
When seedlings in the container begin to form a thick cushion, they should be transferred to fresh soil. At the same time, the original soil must be dry so that it crumbles easily and it is not difficult to remove the seedlings without damage. Transplant the young cacti, which extend up to this point to an inch in diameter, to larger containers.
After transplanting, place the seedlings in a shady warm place. A few days after the transplant, water the cacti gently. How often do you have to water the cacti during this time? Experienced growers believe that the soil should be moistened when it dries.
About a week later, when the seedlings adapt to fresh soil, transfer them to a slightly shaded, but bright place. Plants start to grow and develop a little faster.
Caring for Cactus Seedlings
It is important not only to know how to grow a cactus, how to prepare and sow the seeds. It is necessary to understand what care is needed.
The first step is to properly organize the watering of cacti. How often and how to carry out this procedure so as not to damage young plants?
Sometimes in special cases, you will find recommendations from plant growers about immersing a container with seedlings in water to moisten the soil. But this old method was used before the appearance of spray bottles. Now spray bottles can be used once a day to water the soil.