Grow Cacti from Seed – the ‘Takeaway Tek’

Here’s a simple beginner’s guide to germinating cactus seed. Although this is no longer our preferred method of sowing cacti, it is a great point of entry for first-time growers and – when properly dialled in – a cheap and almost totally set-and-forget way to grow Lophophora, Trichocereus and other species from cactus seed (or even Psychotria viridis from leaves).

Don’t worry if you’re already an old hand at this technique, as we’ll be revisiting this topic soon to discuss some alternative growing methods.

Update: Check out our new ‘Enhanced Takeaway Tek’, which offers greatly-improved germination rates!

You Will Need:

  • Cactus seed
  • Cactus soil mix
  • Marker pen
  • Mister
  • PP5 plastic takeaway container
  • Sieve
  • Water


  1. Sieve the cactus soil mix to remove any larger debris.
  2. Take the marker pen and write the date, species and any notes on two or more sides of the container (in case one wears off over time).
  3. Spread and level a two centimetre to three centimetre layer of soil into the container.
  4. Lightly dampen the soil using the mister – we find that between fifteen to forty-five millilitres of water per container is enough, although you may need to adjust to your climate.
  5. To sow the seed, sprinkle them evenly across the surface of the soil mix, roughly five millimetres apart from each other. We find roughly seventy-five seeds is a good amount when using an average takeaway container.
  6. Lightly push the seeds down a millimetre or so before some further light misting.
  7. Place the lid on the container and then put it somewhere bright but out of direct sun.
  8. Dependent on the species and the quality of the seed, germination should begin about two to three weeks from sowing.
  9. Now you need to maintain the container’s micro-climate, so leave the lids on for at least six months.
  10. Lightly mist with water (or a slow-release fertiliser) at this point, then seal for another six months or so. If at any time the seedlings turn red, buy some 50-75% shade cloth and drape it over the container. If you see any fungal growth, open the lid slightly until moisture loss kills the fungus.
  11. Once the seedlings are roughly twenty millimetres tall (and have spines), separate the plants into larger pots.
  12. Congratulations, you’ve germinated and grown cactus seed!

Freaky Cacti sells a great selection of cactus species plants and seed