Cactus Growing Guide

The cactus family includes over 1500 species


Crop Rotation Group



Fertile, well-drained soil.


Full sun.

Frost tolerant

Varies with species. Some are hardy perennials, tolerating winter cold to -30°F (-34°C), while many other species cannot survive hard freezes.


None needed.


Single Plants: 7" (20cm) each way (minimum)
Rows: 7" (20cm) with 7" (20cm) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

It takes several years to grow a cactus from seed to mature blooming size so most gardeners start with purchased plants, which can be carefully moved to a slightly larger pot. Several cacti of different sizes and shapes can be grown in a 14-inch (35 cm) wide pot. To avoid overwatering, keep cacti in smallish containers. Indoors, keep potted cacti in a very sunny window. Outdoors, they benefit from partial afternoon shade. If pieces or branches break off a cactus, let the wound dry for one to two weeks and then set it to root in lightly dampened potting mix.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Native to the Americas, cacti are well adapted to hot, dry conditions. Hardy types can be used as landscape plants, with small tropical species used as indoor-outdoor houseplants. Wear thick gloves when handling any cactus. When transplanting, it helps to wrap the plant in paper to reduce injury to both you and the cactus.


Edible species like prickly pear cactus are harvested in summer.  Potted cacti often produce showy blossoms in winter.


Overwatering or lack of sun are the most common problems with cacti, which are usually trouble-free plants.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Cactus