How Long Does It Take for a Cactus to Grow?

How long does it take for a cactus to grow?

Cactus from the succulent family called Cactaceae. 

These species are characterized by accumulating water and nutrients in their tissues, they can adapt without problem to the habitat in which they are found.

The flowers are solitary and mostly hermaphrodite. 

The perianths are made up of numerous tepals placed in a spiral. 

The fruits are usually indehiscent, berry-shaped and rarely dry.

Cacti are perfect for home interior decoration, especially those varieties that by their origin do not survive the elements. 

They can also be planted to form part of the exterior decoration.

Forms that can have the stem of a cactus:

1. Columnar cacti stand out for having one or more cylindrical stems that grow upright.

They are the ones that attract the most attention and may or may not be divided (by the base, the middle or above). According to its division, the plant is called basitone, mesotone or acrotone.

2. Claudio, it is the flattened stem, shaped like a racket. The genre that represents them is Opuntia cacti.

3.Globose rounded, shaped like a barrel. They are one of the most popular, as they do not take up too much space and, also, there is a great variety of them. The most common type is Echinocactus or Mammillaria.

These succulent plants have an areola, that is, a plant structure that is found on the podariums (the dilated and expanded leaf base in the form of a small tubercle) and the ribs.

In the upper zone, the flowers are produced and in the lower one the spinuliferous meristems. Cactus areolas develop hairs or spines.

How long does it take for a cactus to grow?

How fast a succulent or cactus grows will depend on the variety of the species, its growing conditions, and, of course, what you consider fast or slow. But to give you a date it could be between 6 and 12 months.

Succulents come in large and diverse varieties, and while some are considered slow-growing, many succulents can grow relatively quickly.

In some succulents, you could see growth progress in a matter of weeks, while others can grow for decades.

Some varieties within a species will grow faster than other varieties within the same species.

Most cacti grow 1-3 cm tall per year. There are a few notable exceptions that can grow up to 15 centimeters or more in height per year.

Fast-growing cactus:

1.Echeveria

Most Echeveria grows rapidly. When you see new leaves form in the center of the plant, then it means that it likes its surroundings and grows as fast as it can.

2.Graptoveria

Graptoveria is a very close relative to the Echeveria species since they are a hybrid of Echeveria and Graptopetalum.

3.Kalanchoe

Some Kalanchoe grows vertiginously fast and in some cases can be considered invasive. Among the fastest-growing are Kalanchoe diagremontana, Kalanchoe tubiflora, Kalanchoe pinnata, Kalanchoe storms, and Kalanchoe marmorata.

4.Aloe

Aloe comprises many species, but some of them are relatively fast-growing and quite adaptable. The most popular and fast-growing Aloes include Aloe arborescens, Aloe barbadensis and Aloe vera.

5.Sedum

There are hundreds of Sedum species and they hybridize to each other, therefore they come in great variety. Sedum can grow fast, occupying any open spot and they are quite hardy.

6.Opuntia microdasys

It is one of the most popular fast growing cacti and they are also very hardy. Flattened stems contain glochids that can be yellow, white, or red.

7.Pachycereus pringlei:

The giant Cardón is a columnar cactus that grows up to 10-15m in height. Its growth rate is quite fast, especially if it is cut. More or less, it grows at a rate of 20cm / year, which is a lot in the case of a cactus plant.

8.Cereus peruvianus:

The Cereus peruvianus is also a columnar cactus, but of lower height: it stays in the 3-4 meters, 5 maximum. Due to its size, it can be kept in a pot, but it is advisable to plant it in a wide area so that it can grow quickly about 10-15cm / year.

9.Cleistocactus straussi:

The Cleistocactus straussi is a very unique plant it is covered with white hairs and long, thin, whitish-yellow spines. It grows up to 2-3 meters in height, at a rate of 5 cm / year.

10.Mammillaria:

Mammillaria is generally small-sized cacti whose growth rate often goes unnoticed for precisely this reason.

But the reality is that they grow quite fast, about 2-3cm / year until they reach their final size. It may not seem like much, but you have to think that most species do not exceed 20cm in height.

Cactus most used in gardens:

1.Ferocactus herrerae (barrel cactus)

It is a thorny globular growth plant that maintains its shape until it reaches its full development with about 60 cm in diameter and then continues to grow only in height up to approximately 2 m, perfect for an outdoor garden.

It is regularly found in Mexico and the southern parts of the United States.

2.Biznaguita (Mammillaria microhelia)

Recognized for its beautiful flowering of greenish-yellow and purple-pink colors, the Biznaguita or Mammillaria microhelia.

It is a plant from Mexico and is under government protection due to illegal extraction from its habitat.

It can be easily recognized by its green cylindrical protuberances, with wool in between, which are seen at maturity and reach up to 15 cm in height.

3. Naked calyx (Gymnocalycium bruchii)

The naked calyx or Gymnocalycium bruchii is recognized worldwide as one of the most resistant species and is found in arid rocky areas such as the plains of Argentina, where it is endemic.

It also stands out among the other species in the Cactaceae family for its beautiful pink and pale yellow bloom that appears in the warmer seasons on the central areola of the ornamental plant.

4.Aporocactus flagelliformis (Rattail Cactus)

It is one of the species of the genus of the Aporocactus, of the most delicate family of Cactaceae, and is characterized by its hanging shape and its colorful blooms.

5.Obregonite (Obregonia denegrii):

The obregonite or Obregonia denegrii is the only species of its genus and belongs to the family of Cactaceae, that is, of cacti.

The endangered species in its natural habitat is cultivated worldwide and used as an ornamental plant and as an ingredient for alternative medicines.

6.Old man’s head (Cephalocereus senilis)

Cephalocereus senilis or old man’s head is a phanerogamic species characterized by its columnar shape and reaches up to 15 m in height. Its flowers are yellowish-white or light pink.

The endemic cactus of Mexico can be recognized by its layer of white hair that covers almost all its extension, due to which it has become popular as an ornamental plant for outdoor garden.

7.Hedgehog cactus or mother-in-law’s seat (Echinocactus grusonii)

The Echinocactus grusonii or hedgehog cactus can be identified by its spherical shape and its yellow areola with white and wool on its spines.

The red and yellow flowering cactus is an ornamental garden plant belonging to the genus Echinocactus.

8.Violacea (Acanthocalycium spiniflorum)

Endemic to the mountainous areas of Argentina, the Violacea or Acanthocalycium spiniflorum, is a globose plant that reaches about 30 cm in height and is distinguished by its beautiful violet bloom that comes out of its central areola.

9.Astrophytum asterias 

Originally from Mexico, Astrophytum asterias, also known as false peyote, is distinguished by its greyish-green color and its small-sized globular shape that reaches a maximum of 5 cm in height and 15 cm in width.

10.Aylostera (Rebutia muscula)

Aylostera or Rebutia muscula is a plant in the Cactaceae family native to Bolivia and characterized as its lush orange bloom. 

The globose perennial species is mainly composed of velvety green thorns.

How to care for a cactus?

Temperature:

During the winter, they should not be in very heated rooms, since temperatures above 20ºC would prevent winter rest, which is essential for these plants.

Most cacti do not withstand temperatures below 7ºC. A very important point is that cold and humidity must not coexist in the soil or in the environment around them.

Light:

Although all cacti need a lot of light, not all of them bear direct sunlight.

As a general rule, species that have very strong hairs, spines or a high number of them require full sun; while species with few spines and suckers require a certain shade. Ventilation is also very important for the latter.

Substrate and fertilizer:

Even though cacti support arid soils, if they are cultivated in a more nourished land, their growth is more vigorous and flowering much more spectacular.

 A standard cactus substrate should have porosity, moderate nutrient richness, medium moisture retention, and a pH close to 6.

There are special lands for cacti already prepared, which meet all these characteristics. There are also fertilizers specially formulated for cacti, which must be provided during periods of maximum growth.

Transplant:

If the plant stops growing, gets a bad color, or the roots come out of the drainage holes, it means that it needs to be transplanted.

The new pot has to be somewhat larger than the old one. For cacti it is better to use clay pots or bowls. At the bottom of the pot is placed a drainage layer (volcanic soil, clay or gravel) and a layer of cactus soil.

Then the root ball is inserted using gloves, the holes are filled with more soil and another layer of volcanic soil can be put on the surface, which serves as a decorative element and so that the base of the cactus is not directly in contact with the wet soil when it is watered.

The best time to transplant is spring.

If done in winter, the plant can suffer a delay in sprouting.

It is not recommended to water until 3 to 6 days after the transplant, to allow wounds that may have occurred during the transplant to heal.

Irrigation:

In early spring, when the risk of frost disappears and the plant begins to sprout, it is time to water with some frequency (once every 10-12 days).

The frequency can be increased progressively until reaching the warmer months, in which it will be watered every 4-8 days, depending on the area.

In fall you will begin to reduce the intensity of the irrigation, being carried out every 8-10 days and spacing it more and more to make the plants enter into rest until almost eliminating the irrigation during December and January.

At most, it could be gently watered every 20-40 days in the coldest period. With temperatures below 10ºc it is not recommended to water the cacti, because they rot.

It is better to give good irrigation and wet the entire volume of the soil, than several superficial irrigations, which do not go well to the roots, and the soil must be allowed to dry well between irrigation.

What should be considered when buying a cactus?

You have to look at the lower part of the trunk to check that it is healthy, with good color, and without insects.

When do flower bloom?

The flowering time is in spring/summer, depending on the species. The flowers are spectacular although very short-lived, they never last more than a week.

Some varieties have flowers that last only one night. But, if they have had a very hot winter, they will not flourish.

Do all cacti flourish?

Some say no, but they are wrong. All cacti flourish, or can flourish. But there are some points that we must consider.

Age, some cacti take decades to flower, up to more than 50 years.

When cacti bloom, some cacti only flower a few hours during the night. 

If you are not attentive you will lose its flowering.

Pests and diseases:

1.Cotonets

Also known as cottony mealybugs, they are one of the most common pests of cacti and succulents. It will be very anoying if your plant is affected by them.

Take care of small white cotton-like bumps, as these are very small insects that feed on the sap of the plant and prevent it from developing normally.

Remove them with a cotton swab dipped in an insecticide containing malathion.

2.Red spider

It is a small insect that also affects the development of the cactus; it lives on white cloth and discolors the plant, making it turn bronze.

This insect does not tolerate humidity, so the first step to combat it is to spray the entire cactus with water. If this is not enough, you should apply a solution of malathion or dimethoate.

3.Cochineal

It is a tiny limpet-like creature that feeds on the sap of the cactus and weakens its growth. 

You will need to remove the brown scales with your nails or something else, and then generously spray the cactus with an insecticide that contains malathion, to keep it protected.

4. Basal rot

Basal rot occurs when the base of the plant begins to rot. If this were to happen, the cause will be an excess of water that has caused rotting of the roots.

If the upper stems are healthy, cut them off and use them as a breeding method.

5.Snails and slugs

They usually appear with rains or abundant watering, generally at night. 

They prefer to feed on the young areas of the cacti as well as the tender shoots of the succulents.

 Control them with an insecticide that has metaldehyde. Distribute the product through the pots or on the ground and keep in mind that the balls of this product can dissolve with watering, so they must be replaced periodically.