Tel   01629 580306 
 Fax  01629 55852

Abbey Brook Cactus Nursery
Old Hackney Lane


Growing From Seeds

To be successful you must try to imitate the conditions in which the plants grow naturally. Cacti are nearly always found under scrub or small bushes, on rocky slopes or on level ground where the soil is porous. This is because :
(1) The slope and porous soil provides adequate drainage.
(2) The scrub provides shade for the seedlings and young plants.
(3) The rocks radiate warmth at night and the crevices between them trap pockets of humid air.

1. WHEN TO SOW : If you do not have a heated propagator, the best time to sow is in Spring, i.e. from March until the end of May. Do not sow later than this as the seedlings will not be large enough to withstand the following winter. If you have a heated propagator or warm window-sill (Do not use the airing cupboard) you can sow at any time of the year, but January and February are the best months.

2. COMPOST : We can recommend the following composts.
Either :
(1) Equal parts of Fisons Levington potting compost and coarse lime-free sand.
or (2) One part John Innes No. 1 or 2 and 1/4 part coarse lime-free sand.

3. SOWING : Fill the seed trays or shallow pots to within 1/4” of the top and level the surface, removing any lumps. Water with a watering can fitted with a fine rose. Scatter the seed thinly on the surface of the damp compost. Large seeds can be spaced out and lightly pressed level with the surface using a pencil. Cactus seed need light before they will germinate, so do not cover the seeds with compost and do not put the container in a dark cupboard.

4. TEMPERATURE : Temperatures of between 60-70F are best for germination. Once the seedlings are 2-3 weeks old normal growing temperatures are adequate.

5. GERMINATION : The percentage of seeds that germinate depends on the species, age of the seed and temperature, but there should be signs of germination within 2-3 weeks. A few seeds may be slow to germinate, and seedlings may not appear until 2-3 months after sowing.

6. WATERING : If possible, water with a fine mist spray, or place the container in a saucer and water from below. Never let the compost dry out, particularly before germination has taken place, or the germinating seeds will be killed. Conversely, do not allow the compost to become waterlogged either, else the seeds will rot. After germination keep the soil moist - not too wet, not too dry. During the first winter the seedlings can be kept completely dry in a minimum temperature of 45F.

7. CARE OF THE YOUNG SEEDLINGS : Keep the container in an airy place to prevent ‘damping off’. Shade the seedlings with a single thickness of tissue or newspaper for the first two months, then avoid direct sunlight for a further 6 months. After that time treat as adult plants. Try to ensure the seedlings remain a healthy deep green (or occasionally brownish) colour - a bright red colour indicates that too much light has been given, thin, spindly pale green seedlings results from too little light.

8. TRANSPLANTING : Do not transplant seedlings until they begin to touch one another in the container - this will depend on the rate of growth of individual species. If in doubt, leave the seedlings in the same container for 1 year, and do not transplant until the spring of the second year. They will not come to any harm even if they look overcrowded.