Cactus babies are growing
by Andrew S.
(Ithaca, NY, U.S.)
A friend of mine was told cactus seeds can be difficult to grow, so she bought some and gave me them.
It is a mixed bag, so I planted them in two different containers trying two different methods. They both started growing nicely when I saw which was working better and switched the other. Both containers are small tupperware containers with the lids mostly sealed, I have been misting them whenever it seems dry or the condensation is gone from the walls of the container.
How am I doing so far? :)
I was curious as far as where to go from here. How long should they be kept in these containers? When can I move them? Any other advice would be great!
Drought Smart Plants reply:
Hi Andrew, it looks like you're doing fine! As you probably know, there are many genera and species of cactus, so fine tuning their seedling requirements could be a steep learning curve.
Cactus are notoriously hard to get past the initial germination stage - they'll make their first bit of growth and then stall.
It can take up to a year to get them over this. But patience pays off - the part you can't see - the roots - are busy growing, and as cacti usually have a tap root and many finer roots for surface water capture, eventually they will start to grow.
You should probably start to wean them off the high humidity soon, as they can rot with excess water (for some reason, especially bad is condensation dropping on them) and they will need to have some dry spells to encourage the roots to seek out lower levels of soil.
It seems to be important to have a shallow enough container that once the tap roots hit that, it starts the process of the top growth.
In time, up to one or two seasons of patiently (or not so patiently) watching, they will start a slow growth process.
Once this happens, you can pot them up into separate pots.
They will eventually grow a little faster, but it's essential to allow them to get root bound.
They hate over potting and over watering. The only time you should repot is when they are starting to tip the pot over because they're too heavy. I find the best success with this route.
It's also important to use very well drained soil and of course, have a drainage hole in the pot.
I've even heard of someone keeping tabs on the weather in Tuscon, Arizona, and only watering when it rains there.
Great going! Happy Cactus Gardening,