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How Fast Do Cactus Grow? [ Growth Timelines ]

How Fast Do Cactus Grow? [ Growth Timelines ]

Placing a cactus indoors or outdoors of your adobe always enhances the ambient beauty. Similar to an ornamental plant, cacti escalates the aesthetic of your room.

Medium-sized cacti will go along with other plants in your nursery and does not look odd.

But, having cactus is not everyone’s cup of tea because it thrives a bit slower than other herbs.

Their natural habitats create an adverse environment to live in, so their slow growth is one of the survival tricks they follow.

If you have cacti and wonder why it takes forever to reach its size, do not worry.

There is no shortage of care. Even though all succulents thrive slowly, the cacti speed of growth is the slowest.

The giant saguaro variety of cactus takes a decade to achieve its full-grown size. So if your succulent flourishes steadily, do not blame yourself. It is typical for your beautiful cactus.

How fast does the cactus grow?

Cactus has the slowest growth rate among all the succulent plants. If you have cactus in your garden, you must have witnessed the prolonged growth rate it has, and probably you have blamed yourself for being a careless plant parent.

But believe us, even after taking ultimate care, cactus sprout a maximum of an inch taller per year.

You can expect a growth of a maximum of 3 centimeters a year from your cactus unless you find a rare variety with an extension up to 15 centimeters per year.

It takes approximately a year to reach the size of a marble from the seed. Then after 2 to 3 years, only a few centimeters are added to it. If you take the Golden Barrel Cactus as an example, it only grows up to 2 centimeters a year.

But, if you plant the Saguaro cactus, your experience will be quite different.

After a decade of planting, Saguaro can grow even more than 15 centimeters per year. Saguaro is one of the few towering cacti that can reach a height of 75 feet. Below we have discussed the growth of a healthy and well-nurtured cactus.

Growth in a month

You cannot expect enormous growth during the germination process of cacti. Cactus seeds generally take 4-8 weeks to bloom into seedlings.

If your variety has thorns, you can notice them at this phase. Small spines will arise from the little ball of cactus.

It is no doubt a pleasant scenario to cherish.

Growing cactus is a waiting game that starts from the very first month of germination. The gardener should learn to wait as the thriving at this phase can take even 3-4 months to occur.

Improvement in a semester

The cactus seedlings only reach the size of a big marble in six months.

Many gardeners loosen the strict schedule of nurturing the plant because of the slow growth rate. But, they should keep in mind that it is a natural phenomenon, and the succulent needs adequate care to achieve sound health.

Year-end result

If your cactus remains marble-sized even after a year, there is nothing to worry about. It is a classic for cactus.

The growth of cactus after three decades

Every different species of cactus holds various growth rates.

For instance, the towering cactus Saguaro can achieve a height of 75 feet in 30-35 years. So, when we say budding cactus is a waiting game, we say it literally.

In one sentence, having a cactus is similar to testing your patience.

If you are an impatient person, especially in gardening, succulent is not for you. It will cost you more or less a decade to reach its ultimate height.

But succulent-lovers like them irrespective of their slow growth rate. So in this article, we tell you what causes cacti to grow gradually and provide you some secret tips to speed up the growth of your decorative succulent.

Why does cactus grow slowly?

The slow growth rate of cactus is a survival trick they follow to live in deserts.

Every living being on earth follows some rules to survive in adverse conditions. But for succulents, their whole life is spent in an unfriendly environment like the desert. A steady growth rate helps them to live in this climate.

The soil and climate are responsible.

In deserts, a slow growth rate is what makes cactus the fittest to survive. The sandy soil of the deserts barely holds any water and nutrients. Hence the process of photosynthesis requires an adequate amount of water and nutrients from the soil.

The undersupply of both of these vital components slows down photosynthesis and results in a slow growth rate.

With limited resources, the cactus focuses more on reserving water and minerals than their growth rate to live longer in the scorching sun and zero humidity.

Absence of leaves

You can blame the scarcity of leaves in cactus for their slow growth rate.

Plants complete their transpiration process through the leaves.

The roots suck water from the soil, and leaves evaporate almost 99% of it.

That is why through evolution, most of the succulents lose their leaves. Not having leaves has its pros and cons too.

The number one disadvantage of it is their limited capability of carrying out photosynthesis.

It is the leaves that imbibe the sunlight and turn them into food through photosynthesis.

Also, chlorophyll is only present in foliage which transfers energy into glucose.

The plant uses glucose as its food, and this helps them to thrive well.

So now you have probably understood that cactus cannot make food due to the absence of chlorophyll. Lack of glucose interrupts the growth of the cactus.

The limited stomata in cactus

There are microscopic open pores present all over the plants, especially on the leaves.

These pores or stomata provide the herbs to soak carbon dioxide.

For implementing photosynthesis, carbon dioxide is one of the essential elements needed. But, whenever the stomata open up to suck carbon dioxide, it leaks a bit of evaporated water.

Losing even a tiny drop of water can put the life of a cactus in crisis.

So they acquire a minimal number of stomata while getting adapted to survive in the desert. Now, you can imagine the struggle they go through while surviving in an arid climate.

How can I make my cactus grow faster?

No matter how many times experts ask to wait while growing cactus, some impatient gardeners always seek a few tricks to avoid waiting. If you are one of them and keen to learn what little steps will help your cactus thrive faster, then we have a bunch of information for you below.

Does fertilization accelerate the growth rate?

Cacti do not like anything extra than needed. If you think offering more fertilizers will accelerate the growth, you are wrong. Adding unnecessary fertilizer can deform the shape of the cactus.

You need to be cautious if you have a columnar cactus that grows tall and skinny. If there are too many fertilizers, you can notice a new growth at the tip of the cactus.

It holds the shape of a round ball.

This abnormality is not very pleasing.

For being native to desert climate, once or twice fertilization during the thriving period will be enough for cactus. Since infertility is a habitual thing in desert loam, the cactus does not need weekly fertilization.

Can overwatering help in speeding up the growth?

Overwatering affects the cactus in various ways.

Arid climate habituates cacti to absorb as much water as possible whenever it rains. The scarcity of resources makes them do it.

Cacti preserve the water in their cells for future use.

So, if you water the succulents more than needed, they try to absorb all the excess water, which results in swelling of the cells, tissues and split up the skin.

The cactus needs moisture only when it gets dry. If you are new in the succulent world, monitor the moisture level of the cacti and try not to water more than once in two weeks.

Soil with excellent bilge

While repotting a cactus from the propagation tray, picking up the apt soil will reduce half of your worry.

As cactus is native to the rocky, sandy, and aerated soil, it would be great to put the exact loam in a cactus pot. Cacti prefer soil with exquisite ventilation and drainage.

You can find this soil mixture available online and offline, but sometimes with an expensive price tag.

So, it is better to make them from the convenience of home with minimal investment.

Mix 3 parts potting soil with two parts grainy sand and 1 part perlite, and you will get the perfect soil mixture for your succulents.

Which Species of Cacti Has the Fastest Growth rate?

The Blue Pilosocereus is the fastest-growing cactus in the world. Even though cacti grow at a slow growth rate, there are fewer species of cactus that grow considerably fast.

The Blue Pilosocereus

The Blue in the name suggests the skin color of the cactus. Yes, you heard it right, you can find them in blue and sometimes grey. This towering cactus can reach even the height of 30 feet.


Pereskia is a shrub-like cactus that acquires a height of 20 feet. Unlike most of the cacti, Pereskia blooms a beautiful flower that enhances the surrounding beauty.

Echinopsis Terscheckii

This variant is familiar with the name Argentine Saguaro. They grow speedily and can extend up to 25 feet or more.

How fast does barrel cactus grow?

Echinocactus grusonii or barrel cactus grows on average 1 inch per year. You will notice a speedy growth at the very first stage, but then it slows down. If you plant barrel cactus, you can expect them to acquire 10 inches of diameter in a decade. Since they require the lowest maintenance, a cactus-lover can consider having them.

How fast do bunny ear cacti grow?

Bunny ear cactus is a slow-growing plant that you can keep indoors. Gardeners cherish this variant for its cute bunny ear shape. These indoor cacti flourish well if they get a suitable habitat. Almost zero humidity and blazing hot help Opuntia Microdasys to reach a height of 4-5 feet.

How fast does blue torch cactus grow?

Blue torch cactus thrives pretty fast and adds a minimum of an inch to its height per year. Pilosocereus or blue torch is one of the most attractive variants of the cactus with bluish-green color. This decorative house plant multiplies the encompassing beauty in summer when it blooms elegant white flowers. A mature blue column cactus can grow up to 12 feet tall.

How fast do prickly pear cacti grow?

Prickly pear cactus or Opuntia has a comparatively slow growth rate. This cactus can thrive 12 inches tall and 16 inches wide. Their uniqueness is in their edibility. The juicy cactus fruit they grow is famous for making candy and jellies.

How fast do saguaro cacti grow?

Similar to most of the cacti, the Saguaro cactus also grows slowly. The columnar growth of this cactus is so sloshed that it takes a decade to grow only 1 inch. But we already said that for cactus, waiting is the principal. Centuries-old Saguaro cactus can even reach 75 feet in height. So if you own this cactus, you can call it a plant of yore.

How fast does the Christmas cactus grow?

Christmas cactus or Schlumbergera bridgesii is a truly fast-growing cactus among all the above variants. This Thanksgiving cactus can unfurl approximately 2 feet in a couple of years. This luxurious cactus with pink florets doubles the holiday vibe in your room.

End thought

Having a cactus as a houseplant provides an exotic vibe to your room.

Even though it does not have an eye-soothing appearance, the elegance is no less decorative.

There is nothing much you can do to accelerate the speed of the cactus. Still, providing them an environment similar to the desert can help them to grow a little faster.