Growing Cacti & Succulents from Seed
Growing cacti & succulents from seed can be very exciting, It requires some special attention and care to achieve success. Temperature, light, humidity and sterility are all crucial. Regularly observe seedling growth so that necessary adjustments can be made.
· Beige Powder – Essential trace minerals. Applied on the surface of the medium. (Step 6)
· Brown Granules – Slow release organic nutrients. Will slowly dissolve to feed seedlings for 1+ year. *Step 6
· Labels – Label date sown and name of plant for reference. *Labels on seed bags are removable and can be affixed to plant labels / kit for easy labelling.
· Germination Medium – Not a soil. An inert and sterile seed sowing medium made from stone. Naturally resistant to pests, algae, and molds with great water holding capacity.
· Sowing Chamber – A durable polypropylene germination chamber. Reusable and microwave safe.
- Remove everything from the kit except the medium. Add 250ml of sterile water or with the lid secured on the container, microwave tap water poured over medium for 5 minutes. Drain any excess water once cool. Do not squeeze the medium to try and extract water. Naturally, it should retain a good amount of moisture. You only want the excess water that isn’t absorbed to drip away. Aim for a moist medium – not drenched, or water logged.
- Pat down the surface lightly. Sprinkle seeds on the surface evenly. If the seeds are miniscule, adding a bit of sand into the baggie and mixing it with the seeds is helpful to collect them. Do not poke holes in the medium, to bury the seeds. The seed should not be buried any deeper than its width. It is possible to combine multiple varieties in a single kit, just label them with provided plant labels and add plastic dividers if desired.
- Mist the surface one last time with sterile water and secure the lid. The goal is to provide a very humid environment for the cactus seeds to germinate.
- Place the container in an area where there is bright light, but no direct sunlight. Seedlings are sensitive and will burn from intense light. Diffuse sunlight is perfect. Grow lamps can also work well, but most do not produce enough light. Bottom heating the seed container is very helpful. The light cycle should be 12-18 hours of continuous light / heat per day.
- Aim for temperatures in the 20-30C (86F) range during germination. Cooler nights are encouraged. This is important. A thermometer is recommended to track temperatures. Too hot, and the cactus seedlings will cook. If sealed properly the seedlings will not need to be watered. Make sure to keep an eye on the seedlings, especially during the first few weeks. Do not let the medium dry out. If it appears dry, mist it. Watch for pathogens which thrive in moist environments.
- Three months after seeds have germinated, begin to slowly acclimatize seedlings by progressively opening the lid until they are no longer sensitive to dry air. Only once the lid begins to remain ajar apply the trace mineral powder and organic nutrient included to the surface of the medium. These nutrients will sustain the seedlings until they are ready to be transplanted or for at least another year. *Nutrients together in a single bag
The greatest proportion of germination usually occurs in the first month, though some plant types can take a number of weeks to germinate. Seeds may continue to germinate, however, at a decreased rate for up to six months. Those that are yet to germinate, might during a second cycle.
Do not transplant the seedlings until it’s absolutely necessary. They prefer company. This is usually 1+ years after sowing the seeds. Be patient, rushing these steps can lead to disappointments and delayed development. With cactus and succulent seeds, less is more.
It is not realistic to expect every single seed to germinate. Different batches of seeds have varying degrees of virility and some species are more willing to germinate than others. A practical expectation is a 35% – 98% germination rate under satisfactory conditions.
Often times cacti require stratification. This mimics their natural environment. This means if they do not germinate the first round, allow the medium to completely dry out and repeat the above process from step 6. This can stimulate some new seeds to germinate. Be sure to replant the seeds that have already germinated beforehand.
Seedlings appear light green, almost white or seedlings appear stretched / toppling over.
Increase light levels or duration of light slowly. Seedlings should be stout.
Seedlings appear red
Decrease light intensity and/or duration of light.
Mold or algae is growing on the surface or seedlings are rotting.
Manually remove contaminants with a sterilized tool to prevent spread. Decrease humidity by opening lid for a few hours per day. Provide air circulation.
Seedlings are not germinating
Verify temperature and light are sufficient. Light intensity needs to be sufficient. Medium should not be overly wet or dry. Humidity should be above 70%. Seedlings are buried to deep. *Bottom heat can be very helpful.
*Some types of seeds require special care unique to the specific seed type. Please also consult our online germination seeds guide for a list of these seed species.
*With very small seeds it is best to first add fine sand to the bag of seeds, mix, and then apply to them to the surface of soil.