How Fast Does Cactus Grow? Get Helpful Answers

BY Khushvinder Dagar
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You just planted your FIRST CACTUS. And you are pacing around with a stopwatch wondering how fast does cactus grow. Perfect, this blog is like SANTA. It comes bearing GIFTS.

After reading it, you learn HOW FAST these prickly beauties grow. It is also packed with loads of other helpful information. No spoilers, but DON’T hold your breath.

We are gardening experts. So we know about Cacti & Succulent growth. We have gained VALUABLE KNOWLEDGE on how to care for these UNIQUE PLANTS. They are rough around the edges, but thanks to our years of experience, we know our way around those tricky spots. 

And you get unbeatable tips on fostering HEALTHY DEVELOPMENT. You will have a good understanding of how cacti grow. This information is handy information for any self-respecting plant parent.

We’ll talk about cactus growth stages, rates, factors affecting growth, and more!

How Fast Does Cactus Grow

Growth Stages of Cactus Plants

Growth Stages of Cactus Plants

With Cacti, slow and steady wins the race. Here are the GROWTH STAGES to expect:

1. Seedling Stage

Most cacti species have a SLOW GROWTH period in their seedling stage. It takes about 1 to 4 months for the seedling to appear any longer, and it probably will NOT GROW. That’s as fast as running with flip-flops underwater; basically, it’s SLOW. 

2. Juvenile Stage

It is during this time that most cacti grow VERY SLOWLY. Even after a YEAR, your plants may be only GOLF-SIZED cuties. It’s like a gap year, minus the Instagram-featured trip to Bali. 

But don’t give up hope yet! After 2 to 3 years in this stage, the plant will slowly develop LARGER LEAVES and STEMS. Don’t be worried if your plant takes longer. Hopefully, you WON’T have grown wrinkles by then. 

3. Maturity/ Flowering Phase

Once it reaches MATURITY, a cactus can bloom for up to TWO MONTHS, depending on the species of cacti you own. Well, that’s almost as much as some guys claim to last in bed while texting, only to disappoint. Then it enters its DORMANCY period again until flowering BEGINS ANEW. 

4. Senescence Phase

Most plants take about 30 years to reach this stage. And it is generally characterized by SLOWER growth rates. They also have smaller leaves and blooms. Now, you are just playing SQUID GAME with the plant; it will outlast you.

Suggested reading: 25 Purple Succulents: Get Year-Round Vibrant Colors
Suggested reading: Attractive Tall Succulents To Make Your Garden Look Like A Dreamland

How Fast Does Cactus Grow? 

how fast does cactus grow

Here is what you need to know about cacti growth rates:

Cacti grow slower than a SLOTH crossing the road. Have you seen those videos? After the first 2-3 years, most plants have an average annual growth rate of 2-3 cm. A common example here is the GOLDEN BARREL CACTUS.

Some exceptions grow faster, like your annoying and OVERACHIEVING siblings. For example, the Saguaro Cactus grows up to 15 cm a year.

The growing season is like PUBERTY for your cacti. They get excited and have RAPID GROWTH. That’s because temperatures are WARMER, and there is more sunlight.

Some cactus species can survive long periods WITHOUT WATER. They do so by slowing their growth rate and entering a DORMANT STAGE. They are like the plant version of BEARS.

Slow growth rates in cacti allow them to CONSERVE ENERGY and RESOURCES. Too bad that we can’t do this at work, you know, conserve energy. This allows them to survive HARSH ENVIRONMENT. 

What Makes Cacti Slow Growers?

What Makes Cacti Slow Growers

Ever wondered why your cacti grow slowly? Me too. Hint hint, they are NOT secretly PROCRASTINATORS. Here is what I’ve discovered makes Cacti Slow Growers:

1. A Plant Without Any Leaves 

Cacti grow slowly because they LACK LEAVES on the entire plant. That’s just like that gym bro who skips LEG DAY, and you can see their SKINNY LEGS. 

Leaves allow plants to perform PHOTOSYNTHESIS and produce ENERGY. I’ve noticed that since these plants have no leaves, their ability to create plant food is LIMITED. That results in slow growth.

2. Fewer Stomata 

Desert cacti have FEWER stomata than other plants, meaning they lose less water. Now that’s what I call saving for a RAINY day! Hahaha. But the TRADE-OFF is that they don’t get as much CARBON DIOXIDE for growth and development as other plants. 

Carbon dioxide is important for them to make their FOOD. That means that they grow less with a relatively SMALL supply. I guess being FRUGAL has its DRAWBACKS. 

3. Soil And Arid climates

Many species of cacti that I have originated in a harsh DESERT CLIMATE. Here, there is extreme heat while rainfall and nutrients are SCARCE. 

So, supporting life through their various growth stages is CHALLENGING. It’s like trying to survive on INSTANT NOODLES alone but without the SEASONING, way less fun!

The LACK of consistent water also means INSUFFICIENT MOISTURE retention around the roots. That means cactus plants have a LIMITED amount of water overall compared to OTHER plants. 

Lower soil moisture around the roots also means they DO NOT absorb enough nutrients. They are HUNGRY and THIRSTY at the same time, like everyone subscribed to Only Fans! Hahaha. 

Cactus plants often lack the BARE MINIMUM they need to grow well. So they focus on SURVIVING like some people in relationships out here. [*Cues a sad piano tune*] 

Tips to Stimulate Cactus Growth Faster

Tips to Stimulate Cactus Growth Faster

1. Choosing the Proper Container 

Choosing the RIGHT CONTAINER is crucial for stimulating FASTER cactus growth. You gotta be more PICKY than Simon Cowell on The X Factor if you want your INDOOR plant to be a STAR. 

I opt for a CLAY POT or terra cotta pot because they ensure good AIRFLOW to the roots. That prevents issues like ROOT ROT and promotes healthier growth. It’s like an affordable version of those trendy breathing retreats for your plants. 

Additionally, these types of pots are like SPONGES on steroids. [*Imagines a buffed-up Spongebob*]. They slurp up EXCESS MOISTURE from the soil faster than you can say “clay pots.” This reduces the risk of overwatering, which can cause a SLOW growth rate. 

The porous clay pots also allow for better drainage, preventing WATERLOGGED ROOTS. You also wouldn’t want to walk around in a black latex suit in intense sunlight. You want something more COMFORTABLE. 

2. Use Well-Draining Succulent or Cactus Soil

To stimulate FASTER cactus growth, you should use a WELL-DRAINING soil mix. You want to whip up the PERFECT recipe to make those cacti grow faster than my hotcakes fly off the griddle. 

This type of potting mix ensures that water flows FREELY through the roots. It also PREVENTS issues such as root rot that can STUNT GROWTH. Think of it like giving your plants some DRY socks to walk in.

My basic recipe for a SUITABLE cactus soil includes 3 parts potting soil, 2 parts coarse sand, and 1 part perlite. Now that’s EASIER to make than your grandma’s pancakes – no secret ingredients needed. 

The potting soil provides NUTRIENTS to support healthy growth. Think of it like MULTIVITAMINS for your cactus plant. I add coarse sand and perlite to IMPROVE DRAINAGE and prevent WATERLOGGING in the roots. 

3. Avoid Overwatering

How Fast Does Cactus Grow

If you are doing INDOOR GARDENING, you should water your cactus plant JUST ENOUGH. Don’t do it too deeply or too frequently. I give the soil some time to dry BETWEEN watering sessions, like my sense of humor. 

That’s because cacti don’t need TOO MUCH water. Please don’t leave them TOO THIRSTY, though. You are NOT signing them up for a dating app, after all. 

So don’t wait for shriveled or wrinkled stems before watering again. By AVOIDING overwatering, you create OPTIMAL growing conditions for your cactus plants. 

As a rule of thumb, I think of it like DRINKING WATER. You only want some when you are thirsty but don’t want to die of THIRST. 

4. Provide enough light

Let’s shed more LIGHT on another way to make cactus grow faster. You need to give your cactus plants ENOUGH LIGHT to stimulate FASTER growth. Remember that your growing cacti are not in quarantine. We all HATED barely getting any light.

Most cactus plants need DIRECT SUNLIGHT for at least SIX hours daily in any growth stage. It’s like their version of an energy drink without the jitters and cursing.

So I place your cacti in a location with AMPLE bright light, like a window. If DIRECT SUNLIGHT is playing hard to get like your ex, don’t worry. You can use ARTIFICIAL GROW LIGHTS to keep these babies growing indoors.

Make sure to ROTATE your plants so that all sides receive EQUAL exposure to light. It also prevents LOPSIDED growth. You don’t want your cactus plants to grow a humpback, do you? 

5. Provide optimal Temperatures

I grow my plants in the temperature RANGE of 70-90 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hotter than Ryan Reynolds in a sauna (although, who would complain?). That’s someone’s fantasy, definitely NOT me.

This range stimulates FASTER growth for my cacti during their active GROWING season. Ensure your cactus plant is placed within this OPTIMAL temperature range. 

Otherwise, your plants will be SWEATING more than a European tourist in Jamaica. COINCIDENTALLY, the temperatures there average 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also, maintain CONSISTENT temperature levels throughout the day and avoid EXTREME fluctuations. I’ve noticed they make my plants grow SLOWER than getting a service from the DMV in Zootopia. 

6. Provider Fertilizer

To stimulate cactus growth FASTER, provide fertilizer at APPROPRIATE intervals. You should apply fertilizer to your cactus plant ONCE or TWICE a year. 

I like to do this during the SUMMER and SPRING months when they are ACTIVELY GROWING. Think of it like treating them to a gourmet meal at a Michelin-star restaurant, minus the hefty bill. 

You should be PICKY with the fertilizer. Choose a SUCCULENT or CACTI fertilizer formulated for these plants’ unique nutritional needs. You don’t want to feed your prickly babies CAT food. 

Apply the SUCCULENT FERTILIZER sparingly to avoid overfeeding. That’s because excessive nutrients can HARM cactus growth. It is kind of like how OVEREATING causes health issues for us. 

I wait for NEWLY planted cactus seedlings to establish STRONG ROOT systems. Then I can introduce succulent fertilizer to my YOUNG cactus plant.

Fastest Growing Cactus Varieties

1. Pereskia Aculeata 

Pereskia Aculeata 

Pereskia Aculeata is the Usain Bolt of cacti growth! It thrives in various growth conditions and can quickly OUTGROW other cactus species. 

Picture this: these plants can shoot up at 3 feet ANNUALLY! In Cacti growth terms, that’s basically like watching a speeding BULLET. 

And they can reach a MATURITY height of up to 30 meters within a few years. That’s as tall as Everest! Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the picture.

They are LOW-MAINTENANCE plants. And they adapt well to environments beyond the cactus’ natural habitat. Just give them a bit of WELL-DRAINING SOIL. What more would you ask for? 

2. Trichocereus


Trichocereus is like Max Verstappen; it is fast. These SPEEDY green machines don’t mess around when it comes to GROWTH. They make other varieties LOOK like they’re standing STILL.

I give these babies a WARM climate and WELL-DRAINED soil and watch them thrive. You’ll think that they just won a plant lottery. SUNLIGHT? Oh boy, you better believe they’ll soak up more rays than Kardashians soak up attention!

They can grow up to 11 inches per year. Well, that’s TALLER than my hair, even after trying all those TikTok growth tips. When SUSTAINED, this growth maxes out at 10 to 20 feet tall. As a result, the cactus OUTGROWS other varieties quite EASILY. Wait, was that up for debate? 

3. Cereus Peruvianus

Cereus Peruvianus

Cereus peruvianus is a COLUMNAR cactus renowned for its FAST growth rate. These guys don’t just grow; they grow CER-iously fast. 

Bad pans aside, they are relatively EASY to grow. They need BRIGHT, INDIRECT light with MINIMAL watering and pruning. 

When I plant them DIRECTLY in the soil, these cacti grow up to 15 inches ANNUALLY. However, if you opt to cultivate it in a POT, its growth will be slightly SLOWER at around 4 inches per YEAR. Although it’s like having Usain Bolt compete in flip-flops, it’s STILL fast. 

With that growth rate, they easily reach a MATURE height of about 7 feet

FAQs about How Fast Does Cactus Grow

1. Does a cactus grow faster on red sand?

There is no scientific evidence to support this theory. But, there is some anecdotal proof that growing plants in red sand has some benefits for the cacti. 
Red soil has hypothetically more minerals and may be more nutritious for cacti. Therefore, growing your plants in the soil may expose them to more iron leading to faster growth. 

2. How does a cactus survive in the desert?

A cactus survives in the desert by adapting to its harsh environment. Cactus grow thick, waxy skin that helps reduce water loss through evaporation. 
The stem of a cactus can store large amounts of water to keep it alive during long periods without rainfall. Its spines help protect it from predators making sure that it is not munched on.

3. How long does it take to grow a San Pedro cactus?

You can expect your San Pedro cactus plants to mature in 3-5 years after first planting. But hold on. Don’t start counting days yet. The exact duration can vary based on some key factors.
These include growing conditions and the size of the cutting you started with. Did you begin with a smaller cutting? Then it may require additional time before reaching its full growth potential. The vice versa is true, of course.

4. Why is my cactus bending over?

So your cactus is bending over? Don’t get any naughty ideas. A cactus can bend over due to various reasons. It might be lacking sunlight. That might cause it to stretch towards the light source and eventually bend. 
Overwatering can lead to weak roots, unable to support the weight of the plant properly. Finally, do your plants lack regular pruning or support? That could be an issue for taller species as it could lead to bending or leaning cacti.

5. Does cactus grow wild in Michigan?

Yes, cactus plants do grow wild in Michigan. There are two native species of cacti found in the state. The endangered Fragile Prickly-pear (Opuntia fragilis) and Prickly-pears (Opuntia cespitosa). 
The first one is known from two sites. The second one occurs in southwestern Michigan. And the other is Monroe County in the southeast corner.

What’s Next

So, we talked about how cactus plants grow and found out they can be slowpokes. Like, seriously slow! But don’t worry. I’ve got some TIPS to speed them up a bit. And hey, did you know there are some speedy cactus varieties? They’re like the flash of the cactus world! 

Ready to get your cacti sprinting toward growth? AsterGardening has got you covered! Check out our service pages for expert tips, tricks, and solutions to all your gardening woes. 

Whether it’s slow-growing cacti or other plant problems, we’re here to help you UNLEASH the green thumb force within! Visit us today, and let’s transform your garden into a thriving oasis. 

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Khushvinder Dagar

Hey, I'm Khushvinder. I am a marketer by profession but love the feeling of getting my hands dirty and watching plants grow and have a particular interest in native plants and sustainable gardening practices. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with others and have written articles on gardening for various publications.