Cacti are beautiful plants that can be very rewarding to grow.
They take a long time to mature, and the process is slow. However, there are steps you can take to make your cactus grow faster!
Many factors affect how fast your cactus grows and how tall it becomes.
This article will show you how to make your cactus grow faster and healthier!
How Long Does It Take for a Cactus To Grow?
Cactus plants are slow growers, and they don’t usually reach much more than a few centimeters in height after two or three years.
Cacti can typically only grow around one to three cm each year once they’ve reached this point. Some exceptions can grow up to fifteen cm or more per year, though!
The species of cactus also play a role in how long it takes for them to grow. The smaller the species, the faster they will usually be able to grow.
The growth rate of your cactus will also depend on how you take care of it. If the conditions are right, your cactus plant should grow faster than if you don’t provide what they need to thrive.
Generally, most desert cactus species can be expected to only reach around one meter in height after ten or fifteen years.
This means that some cacti species may continue growing for up to twenty-five years before reaching their full size!
Cacti vary widely regarding how much time and effort is needed for them to develop, though fully. In rare cases, certain types might even require over fifty years until they’re ready!
Why Do Cacti Grow So Slow?
Desert cacti are slow growers, especially in comparison to other succulent plants you are used to seeing.
There are many reasons why most cacti grow so slowly.
One reason why cacti grow so slowly is their root system.
Cactus root systems usually spread horizontally rather than downward, as you may be used to seeing on other types of plants such as the ‘tree’ plant growing downwards into the soil below.
The lack of vertical growth means less energy which could otherwise be going towards creating additional cells or branches from its trunk/stems (a process called secondary growth).
Another reason why cacti grow slowly is that they don’t have a lot of energy to spare.
Most cactus plants are in what you might call ‘survival mode’. They can grow on the most desolate types of land where water is sparse and resources, such as nutrients, are very limited.
To survive these harsh conditions, it makes sense that their growth processes would need to focus more energy towards making sure they can sustain life rather than creating additional cells.
Cacti also lack leaves meaning there is less surface area to collect sunlight (another source of energy).
This means that even if you manage to get some sunlight down on the cactus, you won’t see that much growth happening because it cannot convert sunlight into energy.
Another reason you may see that cactus grow so slowly is because it can take a long time for them to become established.
To start seeing growth happening, you need the roots of your plant/tree to be firmly in place and able to collect water and nutrients from the soil you have at its base.
You will want to make sure you look after your cacti carefully if you wish to see changes in their size happen sooner rather than later, especially since they are already slow growers!
How To Make a Cactus Grow Faster
If you are looking to speed up the growth of your cactus, you might like to consider trying some of the following things:
Repot Your Cactus When Needed
One thing you might like to consider is to try repotting your cactus plant now and then.
This is because by loosening its root system a little, you allow them to grow slightly faster than they would if they were still tightly held in place within their pot or container.
It might be a good idea to leave the job of repotting up until you have seen some signs of overgrowth to avoid accidentally damaging your succulent plant.
If you think your cactus needs a little bit more growing room, then find yourself another pot that is slightly bigger than the one before.
Use some new soil at an appropriate level so the roots can grow into it without being constricted too much. This should help speed things along nicely!
Prune Your Cactus as Needed
Another thing you might like to consider is pruning your cactus plant as needed.
This will allow it to grow a bit faster than usual and encourage the growth of new branches/leaves (secondary growth).
You can do this by cutting away the dried-out or broken parts at its base with some sharp, clean scissors – much in the same way that you would cut back dead flowers on another plant.
It is also important to make sure that you do not remove too many of its leaves since this can cause it to lose out on the sunlight necessary to grow.
If many of your plant’s stems have been damaged, then perhaps consider leaving things alone rather than risk doing more damage which could end up killing off your cactus for good.
Provide Enough Sunlight
When growing cactus plants, another essential thing is to make sure that you are providing your succulent with enough sunlight.
This is because if it does not get access to direct light, it will have a hard time growing as quickly or at all!
You need to make sure that you do not put it in a place where shadows are cast upon its leaves.
This could be something like a large tree blocking out the sunlight or even some of your neighbor’s walls and fences which cause parts of its environment to become shaded.
Note that if your cactus plant is kept indoors, then windows with southern exposure will be best since this will allow them to get access to direct sunlight and thus make sure they have enough energy available whenever they need it!
However, you have to be careful with this one since you do not want your cactus to be exposed to too much sunlight or heat, as either of these things can cause sunburn in the cactus, which will prevent it from growing.
Plant Your Cactus in the Right Soil
The other thing you will need is to make sure that your cactus is planted in suitable soil.
This means that your potting mix should be sandy and gritty with good drainage since this allows it to gain access to all of those nutrients that are crucial for its growth!
It also means that your cactus will not be so susceptible to rot or fungal diseases, which can often plague plants if they are planted in the wrong kind of potting soil.
A cactus soil mix is also often a good idea since this makes your cactus grow faster than it would if you used another type of potting mix.
However, the main thing is to make sure that your soil is not too dense and heavy, as this will prevent your cactus from taking in any nutrition present within it!
Make sure that your soil contains plenty of organic materials like leaf mold or composted bark mulch so that your plant can take advantage of all these extra nutrients when they are needed.
Keep the Proper Temperature and Humidity
Your cactus will also need the proper temperature and humidity levels for it to grow as quickly as possible.
This means that your cactus needs an environment with a relatively constant temperature between about 20ºC or so (68ºF) and 30ºC (86ºF).
Make sure you do not let your plant get too cold since this can cause its growth to slow down significantly, but also make sure that your indoor cactus does not get any warmer than 30ºC.
Finally, your air should be humid enough, so your plant doesn’t dry out completely, but at the same time, you don’t want things getting too wet either since this could trigger your plant to rot.
Remember that your cactus is a desert plant, so it doesn’t take too kindly to be watered very often!
You should only do this when your soil has dried out quite significantly – at least once every week or two for most kinds of cacti, but more frequently if you are growing them in smaller pots.
Fertilize Your Cacti During the Growing Season
To make a cactus grow faster, fertilize it during its growing season.
This means that you should use a good quality cacti fertilizer and apply it about once every month or two when your plant is in active growth (March through September).
However, you need to make sure that your cactus is not overfed since it could easily burn your plant and have a negative impact on its growth.
So make sure your fertilizer is diluted to half the strength that would usually be recommended and apply it only to your cactus’ soil.
If your cactus start to turn yellow or begins to get soft, then you should stop fertilizing your cactus for a few months.
An excess of fertilizer could be why your cacti aren’t growing as quickly, so make sure that you are not giving it too much food!
Check for Pests and Diseases Regularly
Finally, your cactus will grow faster if you make sure it is pest and disease-free.
This means that every time your plant needs its soil changed, check the root area for any signs of pests or diseases that could prevent your cacti from growing correctly.
You should also keep an eye out for rot since this can quickly spread and kill your cactus if it is not spotted in time.
If your plant is infested with pests or diseases, you will need to immediately remove it from its pot and take the steps necessary to get rid of them.
Remember that your cactus needs your help if it is going to grow quickly, so make sure you are taking all of these key factors into consideration when caring for your little buddy!
How To Know if a Cactus Is Growing
To know if your cactus is growing, look for the following signs:
- The cactus is thickening, especially along the edges
- The small spines are growing longer and increasing in number.
- New segments are visible on mature plants after a few years of growth.
- A new sprout at its base
When you notice these signs, your cactus has probably begun to grow larger!
If you’re not sure whether your cactus is growing, there are some other things to look for which might help make a more definite conclusion.
- Give the cactus a good shake and listen if anything ratchets inside. If you hear some solid sounds, then it’s likely growing.
- Check if any of its spines are loose or come out with moderate effort.
- Inspect under your plant to see how big its root system is getting. The roots should be increasing in size as well.
- Look at the color of your cactus and see if it is healthy, vibrant green, or more dull in appearance. A darker green is typically a sign that your succulent plant has been getting enough water and sunlight to produce new growth!
These signs will provide more certainty, but remember that many plants grow slowly over a long period, so don’t worry too much if you only see some signs of growth now and then.
Some people have a green thumb naturally, but even if you don’t happen to be one of them, it’s not too difficult to make your cactus grow faster.
Cactus growth can vary depending on where you live, so if you don’t see results as fast as others, keep in mind that it could be due to the climate or soil.
When growing cacti, all you need is some patience and a little bit of knowledge to get started.