In this Blog I will be talking about how you can grow cacti and Succulent plants from Seed and talking about the method I like to use to grow my cacti and succulent plants from seed and I have had great success throughout the years using this method.
Although there are many different ways to grow cacti and succulents from seed and there is no right or wrong way, In this Blog I will be showing you how to grow cacti and succulents from seed using the bag method.
I have included videos I have made for my Cacti & Succulent Plant You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon that include step by step instructions on growing Cacti and Succulents from seed as well as a video on how to care for seedlings during their first Winter.
Why grow from Seed ?
Growing from seed can be very rewarding as you get to see your plants grow from seedlings to mature plants over the years and although it can be very time consuming, knowing that you have grown your cacti and succulents from seed is a real buzz.
When is the best time to grow from seeds ?
Cacti and Succulent seeds are best sown in late Winter, Spring or early Summer, this is because the days are longer and the temperatures are warmer, but if you have grow lights and additional heating then you can still sow seeds in Autumn and Winter too, the most important thing is that the seeds /seedlings are kept at a minimum temperature of 70 Fahrenheit /21 Celsius.
What do I need to grow from Seed ?
You will need :
Seeds, plant pots, transparent zip lock bags, a pen, plant labels or white sticky labels, 2 parts loam based seed sowing soil ( or any well draining soil ) 1 part grit or perlite and 1 part horticultural sand.
I have found that the clear fruit pots that you commonly see cherry tomatoes or strawberries sold in are perfect sizes to use as small seed pots and they fit perfect in the bags too as well being a great way to us as recycling, just make sure that you thoroughly clean them first before using them for seed sowing.
How do I grow Cacti and Succulents from Seed ?
Thoroughly mix up the 2 parts seed sowing soil with the 1 part perlite OR grit with the 1 part Horticultural sand. You can use the amount of soil mix to the amount you need depending on the size of your seed pots.
If the soil you are using has stones or lumps of bark chippings in it etc its best to remove these by running the soil through a gardening sieve first.
Once you have thoroughly mixed up all the soil with the perlite or grit and sand then its best to sterilise the soil by either microwaving it or heating it in the oven, this is optional but its something I like to do as it helps to reduce fungus and bacterial attacks on the young seedlings after they have germinated.
If you are sterilising the soil in the microwave then put all of the soil mix into the microwave on high setting for 3 minutes stopping half way through to thoroughly sir the soil mix with a clean spoon, its important that the soil mix is extremely hot as this is what will kill any pathogens and to sterilise your soil.
If you are sterilising your soil mix in the oven bake the soil mix at 180-200 F. /82-93 C for at least 30 minutes, or when the temperature of the soil mix reaches 180 F. (82 C. you can test the temperature of the soil by using a cake thermometer.
Allow the soil mix to cool down before putting into the seed pot/s.
Once the soil mix has cooled down put the soil mix into the seed pots and place the seed pots in a tray or trays filled with 2-3 inches of clean water, if using rainwater it may be best to boil the water first and allow to cool down so any pathogens that could be in the water are reduced.
Leave the pots in the water until the soil mix in the pots is completely soaked with the water, this can take up to an hour or more but its important to be patient so the soil mix is thoroughly moist all the way through the soil.
Write the name /s of the seeds you will be sowing on the Plant labels / white sticky labels that you will be putting on the bags, and also the date you are sowing the seeds.
Make sure your hands are thoroughly clean then sow the seeds evenly across the surface of the plant pot/s. If the seeds are very small its best to sprinkle them on like pepper as evenly apart as possible but with larger seeds such as Opuntia or Aloe seeds you can place them onto the surface individually and gently press them down.
Once you have sown the seeds you can very lightly sprinkle some horticultural sand on the top of the soil but make sure the sand is moist. By using sand this can help to minimise moss that often likes to grow on the soil that the young seedlings are growing in due to the soil always needing to be kept moist.
Place the seed pots into the clear plastic bags and make sure to release all the air inside the bags first before sealing the bags.
Place the bags in a bright well lit location that receives some sun but not intense sun or intense heat.
Keep the seedlings inside their clear bag/s for a minimum of 3 months but you can keep them in the bags for longer than this if the seedlings are still small, I have kept seedlings in the bags for up to 10 months if they are still small and the soil inside the bags is still moist.
NEVER open the bag/s until after a minimum of 3 months this is to continue to keep the seedlings and soil sterile, however if you notice your seedlings have fungus or any other problems sometimes opening the bag/s may be inevitable.
The young seedlings should not dry out in the bags for up to 3 months, this is because the clear bags act like a mini greenhouse and there is no room for the excess water inside to evaporate, and young seedlings do not take up large amounts of water, however if you notice the soil inside of the bag/s looks like it i drying out then you will have to open the bag/s to water before the 3 months.
After 3 months you can gradually unzip the clear bags over a few days to allow the seedlings inside the bag to acclimatise to the drier air outside of their bag/s in their new environment after a few days you can then take them out of their bag/s completely.
If after the 3 months your seedlings are still small then they can still stay in the bag/s for many more weeks or months if the soil inside the bag/s is still moist, sometimes I will leave my seedlings up to 9 months in the bag/s if there is no need for them to come out of them.
How do I care for young cacti and succulent seedlings during their first Winter ?
This can be confusing to many people because we are told as cacti and succulent growers to keep our plants cool and dry over Winter, but what do we do with young seedlings especially during their first winter ? because a cold and especially dry period could kill them off as the are still so young and their roots will still be fine and developing.
I strongly recommend that you overwinter your young cacti and succulent seedlings indoors at a minimum temperature of around 15 C/ 60 F for their first Winter. I would also still continue to water them lightly just enough to stop the delicate root hairs from drying out.
In their natural habitats in Winter young cacti and succulents would be growing under the shade of larger plants and vegetation where they would naturally be receiving more humidity and warmth than their mature parents that are more exposed to the elements, therefore in nature in their natural habitats in dry arid deserts even in the Winter young seedlings would still be receiving moisture from the humidity on the lower grounds of the vegetation for their young developing root systems.
After their first year you can continue to treat them as you would more mature cacti and succulents depending on their size and what type of cactus or succulent they are.
Here is a video I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to care for Cacti and Succulent plant seedlings during their first Winter and you can watch this video below :
Good luck with growing from seed Guys and more importantly HAVE FUN 😀