Prickly Plant

How Fast Do Cacti Grow?

Cacti are known for their unique appearance and ability to survive in the harshest of desert environments.But how fast do cacti grow?

Since their natural habitat is an environment where most other plants would have no chance to survive, cacti invest most of their energy in staying alive instead of growing. They also have no real leaves which are usually the main photosynthesizing part of the plant. That means that a cactus has less efficient photosynthesis, and in return, it gets less energy which could be used for growth.

In this article, we look at the factors that affect cactus growth and answer the question – how fast do cacti grow?

How Long Does It Take For A Cactus To Grow?

how long does it take for cacti to grow

It’s a common belief that cacti grow slowly or barely at all. This belief is partially true, but only in some situations and for some species, and it is mostly just another prejudice about cacti.

In general, most cacti grow 1-3 cm in height per year.

Like most other plants, cacti have both their growth and dormant periods. During their growth periods, cacti grow, flower, and even bear edible fruits. During dormancy, cacti enter their hibernation phase in which they simply try to survive harsher conditions and to prepare for their next growth period.

With good conditions and time, cacti can grow considerably, but it won’t happen overnight. You will need to show some patience to enjoy the growth of your cactus.

How Much Will A Cactus Grow In One Month?

Depending on species, a cactus grows anywhere between a few millimeters to 1 or 2 centimeters per month during the summer. This might not seem like a lot, but month after month, your cactus will grow significantly during one growing season.

How Much Will A Cactus Grow In Six Months?

In six months, you can expect your cactus to grow by 1-3 centimeters, which is not so bad! During dormancy, your cactus doesn’t grow at all, so let’s stay focused on the growing season.

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How Much Will A Cactus Grow In One Year?

You might think that the answer to this question is simple: you multiply cactus growth in six months by two, and you get how much it will grow in one year, right? 

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. During a one year period, you will have both the dormant and growing season, which means that your cactus won’t grow for the whole 12 months. If you’re really lucky to live in a warm climate, your cactus will grow for 7-8 months in one year.

Overall, you should expect your cactus to grow 1-3 cm in height per year.

How Much Will A Cactus Grow In Ten Years?

When you think about the last 10 years of your life, so many things happened during that time, right? Well, it’s pretty much the same with a cactus plant.

During this period, the typical cactus plant grew from a tiny and young cactus to a mature and well-developed plant. Chances are that it has seen some good and bad times and survived conditions that would kill most other plants. It also went through ten growth periods, during which it had a chance to grow a lot.

There are some species, like most Gymnocalycium cacti, that don’t grow to be very big. These cacti will reach their maximum height before the age of 10.

Some other species, like the San Pedro cactus, can reach several meters in height. During a 10 year period, cacti have probably grown dozens of inches, with some species able to grow up to an astonishing 1-1.5 meters in height.

Over to course of a decade, most cacti will flower at least once, given proper conditions.

Factors that affect how fast cacti grow

how fast do cacti grow

The rate of cactus growth can be affected by several factors, so there is no universal formula that can predict the growth rate of every cactus. But, knowing the factors that affect the speed of cacti growth speed can be helpful.

Below we will discuss the main factors that affect how fast cacti grow.


Since cacti are native to hot deserts, they enjoy the warm weather. Optimal temperatures for cactus growth range from 25⁰ C -29⁰ C (or 77⁰ F – 84⁰ F).

When colder weather arrives, and temperatures start dropping, the growth rate of cacti slows down. Finally, when winter comes and temperatures drop to below 10⁰ C – 15⁰ C (or 50⁰ F – 59⁰ F), cacti enter their dormant phase.

They completely stop growing and instead use their energy to survive the winter. When spring comes and the temperatures start rising again, cacti “wake up” and slowly start to grow. Then, the summer comes again, and we start a new cycle.

Cactus pot size

Just like any other plant, cacti need enough space to grow.

If they live in a pot that’s too small, they will become root-bound, which means that their roots will fill up the entire pot, and will have no more room to grow.

On the other hand, cacti don’t like pots that are too big either. When the pot is too big, cacti tend to focus almost all of their growth on the roots, which means that there will be minimal growth above the ground. Also, pots that are too big store more water, and the soil in them dries much slower than in the smaller pots.

This increases the chance of overwatering, which could be fatal for your cacti.  So, the rule of the thumb is to choose a pot that is bigger than your cactus by 10% to 15%. Choosing the correct cactus pot size will balance the growth between its roots and stem, which is the optimal scenario.

Cacti species

Different cacti species have different growth rates and different growth patterns in general.

Some species often grow new offshoots, and it’s almost impossible to not notice their growth. Other species grow as solitary plants, but they grow quite quickly in height. Whilst other species of cacti grow pretty slowly no matter how good conditions they get are.

The cactus species also determines the maximum size your cactus can reach. Some species of cactus barely reach a diameter of few centimeters, and then stay that size forever. Others grow for decades, and grow to be as tall big as a house!


We all know that overwatering can kill your cactus. But it can also cause some other side effects.

Have you ever noticed that your cactus suddenly grew much faster than usual? I hate to rain on your parade, but there is a chance that this growth has been caused by too much water. When a cactus gets overwatered it takes more water than it needs and it becomes plumper and visibly bigger.

Now you probably wonder why that is so bad?

After all, you want your cactus to grow bigger. If your cactus absorbs too much water, it can develop cracks and burst. This can cause permanent damage or even kill your cactus. So, be careful to not overwater it.

How to speed up cactus growth?

how long does it take for a cactus to grow

A short answer to this question would be: give your cactus the best conditions possible.

Make sure that the temperature during the growing season is high enough. Plant your cactus in a pot that is big enough, but not too big. If you want a fast-growing cactus, make sure to choose a species that has a fast growth rate and which isn’t naturally small in size.

Make sure that you avoid overwatering your cactus since this can kill your cactus, (or permanently damage it in the best case scenario).

Also, during the growth season, you can fertilize it with a fertilizer specialized for cacti and succulents. This way you will make sure that your cactus has enough nutrients for healthy and steady growth.

How fast do cacti grow?

In general, most cacti grow 1-3 cm in height per year.

Although cacti are known to grow slowly, some factors can make a noticeable difference when it comes to increasing the rate of growth. These include the temperature, pot size, amount of water and the species of cactus.

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Gareth Davies

Hi! I'm Gareth and I own Prickly Plant is the ultimate resource for everything you need to know about looking after your Prickly Plants. With over 10 years of experience selling and looking after plants, I'm passionate about sharing simple & understandable information for everyday people!