Is My Cactus Growing: Signs To Look For

The most rewarding part of a cactus comes from watching it grow. Like many plants, cactuses begin their lives as seeds and grow from there. Germination of a cactus takes anywhere from several weeks up to several months, depending on the species. In the beginning, don’t expect the cactus to grow too much.

Is my cactus growing? As your cactus grows, you start to see small new growths. Over time, these growths will extend and get larger as more new growths happen. Cactus will often flower on the growths, which means that if your cactus remains unchanged, it hasn’t grown.

Check the center of the cactus from above. A cactus that is growing will have different colored spines in comparison to the rest of the plant. This signals that your cactus has newer spines. Older spines have a duller color and less sheen than the newer spines.

You could snap photos of the plant to check the growth of it over time. Usually, when a cactus grows, you can tell if it grows in a meaningful way.

Easy Signs Your Cactus Is Growing

Cacti can be slow growers, making it hard to tell if they’re happy and healthy. Let’s explore some key signs to watch for:

Visible Indicators

  • New Growth: Keep an eye out for fresh pads, stems, or pups. Even a slight size increase signals growth, especially in slower varieties.
  • Plumpness: Healthy cacti feel firm and plump, not wrinkled. It’s a sign of proper hydration and active growth.
  • Vibrant Color: Thriving cacti boast brighter colors. Note that some species naturally have muted hues.
  • Flowering: While not foolproof, flowering can indicate a mature, healthy cactus in its growing season. Some species flower rarely.

Other Signs

  • New Spines: Some cacti grow new spines alongside new segments, though not always.
  • Shedding Old Spines: Normal as cacti grow; shedding older spines from the base is harmless.
  • Root Growth: Significant root development upon repotting is a positive sign, but don’t repot just to check roots.

Things to Consider

  • Growth Rate: Cacti grow slowly; expect gradual changes over weeks or months.
  • Growing Season: Most cacti grow in spring and summer, being dormant with minimal growth outside this period.
  • Species Differences: Research your cactus variety for specific growth patterns. Understand what’s normal for your cactus.

Observe these signs, consider your cactus’s needs, and gauge its health and growth. If unsure, seek advice from experienced growers or research specific to your cactus variety.

Patience the Key

In some cases, cactus will develop new growths quickly, but you have cases where they don’t do much. It could be because of how cactuses need certain conditions to grow. If it has stopped growing, check some of these conditions:

Direct Sunlight

You want to check to see that your cactus receives direct sunlight because low sunlight conditions can lead to poor growth. Cactuses need sunlight to convert to food and grow. Scientists classify plants as autotrophs, which means that they make their own food through the process of photosynthesis. Animals have to hunt or forage for food, but plants can make their own.

Correct Soil Mixture

The right soil can promote growth with a cactus. You have hundreds of soil companies that claim to have the best soil, but as you can imagine, they can’t all be the best. Getting the best soil depends on each plant species. For cactus, I’d advise that you use a mixture of 1/3 sand, 1/3 gritty and 1/3 soil.

That mixture ensures that the soil doesn’t hold in moisture and causes root rot, which will keep the cactus from growing.

Older Cactuses May Need More Nutrients

Did your cactus seem to stop growing? What happened? After about a year, your cactus may have absorbed all the nutrients in the soil. You can add more nutrients to the soil to remedy the problem.

Use a good cactus fertilizer. Usually, cactuses like a fertilizer higher in phosphorous than nitrogen. Some cactus experts recommend the 5-10-5 solution.

Choose the Correct Pot Size

Many people don’t even think about the importance of a pot for the cactus. If you use too small of a pot, the cactus will stop growing because it doesn’t have the space to expand its root system. On the other hand, too big of a pot can be detrimental to the cactus as well. With too big of a pot, the cactus will stop growing because all the growth will happen in the root system. It wants to fill the planter before growing.

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How Do Most Cactuses Grow?

If your cactus hasn’t grown too much, don’t worry. Most cactuses will grow slowly, but this depends on the plant species too. You will usually get a cactus that grows to the size of a large marble at between six to 12 months. In general, you can expect your cactus to add an extra 1 to 3 centimeters each year. As long as you can see some growth and the plant looks healthy, don’t worry!

How Can I Make My Cactus Grow Faster?

You can help your cactus to grow faster by making sure that it meets the right conditions. Make sure that your cactus gets enough sunlight, has enough fertilizer, uses the right soil and has the correct pot size.

Establish a consistent watering schedule, use soft water and make sure that your cactus gets enough sunlight. Putting fertilizer in the soil during your cactus’s growth period ensures that you maximize its growth. Come the winter season, let the cactus go dormant. This follows a natural cycle.

How Often to Water the Cactus to Ensure It Grows

You will want to water your cactus every week consistently. For example, you could set the water schedule to watering it every week. During the watering, you soak the soil. While some people get nervous about that, this is perfectly natural. It mimics the cactus’s natural environment where it either experiences feast or famine with waterings.

Understanding How Cactuses Grow

Let’s have a look at how cactus grow to get a better understanding of when your cactus grows. Especially in the wild, cactus will grow in large clumps. You will see new offshoots of the cactus that start to grow. Some call these cactus clusters.

Some people don’t like the look, and you can remove the growths to replant them, but this will slow down its growth since that’s the natural way that a cactus grows, but it gives it a cosmetic appearance.

Hopefully, this helps you to understand a little better how your cactus grows. If you can’t see any growth of your cactus, check the health of it. A cactus in poor health won’t grow as much since it will expend most of its energy on survival. The color of the cactus can indicate health. A healthy plant will usually have a green glow. Beware if the cactus starts to turn black. I wrote about that here and how to respond to it if your cactus has started to turn black.

Want to get started growing a cactus? Check out this Grow Your own Saguaro Cactus Kit. It lets you grow your own Saguaro Cactuses and comes with approximately 150 seeds. You can also give this as a gift to someone who loves to grow plants.

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