Prickly Plant

How Long Do Cacti Live?

Cacti are a popular indoor type of plant within the plant-loving community. There are more than 2,000 species of cacti around the world, with each one boasting its own aesthetic and set of unique characteristics. When it comes to growing and caring for cacti, you might be wondering how long, exactly, they live.

If so, you’re in luck! This article is all about the lifespan of cacti and the factors that determine how long a cactus lives.

Let’s dive in.

How Long Do Cacti Live?

Cacti have a longer lifespan than many other plants. These hardy pieces of greenery can live anywhere from 10 to 200 years! That’s right – your little, tiny cactus might just outlive you, your children, and your children’s children.

Factors That Determine How Long a Cactus Lives

how long do cacti live

Below we will discuss the four main factorsthat can affect the lifespan of cacti.


When it comes to sunlight, it’s easy to understand the most basic cacti care requirement – tons of it. This being said, all cacti require slightly different amounts of sunlight, but no cactus is safe with zero sunlight.

In the end, the amount of light that a cactus receives will play a big part in how long it lives. A cactus that receives too much sunlight may get sick and/or die, while the same could be said for one that doesn’t get enough. In addition, cactus species that bloom flowers might not produce them if they don’t have an adequate sunlight-darkness ratio every day.

So, when placing a cactus somewhere in the home, it’s critically important to understand the sunlight requirements for your desert-dwelling plant.

Also, be sure to remember that just because cacti like and need a lot of light, they can’t survive in constant sunlight and that there is, in this case, such a thing as “too much of a good thing”. When your cactus gets too much light its colors can become muted and, unfortunately, it can die.


Cacti are a peculiar type of plant when it comes to water. Typically, they don’t need much of it at all. In fact, they tend to thrive in low-water, high-light conditions.

Because of this, how much water they receive affects how long they live. It’s not hard for cacti to develop root rot from too much water since their roots aren’t used to large amounts of moisture or frequent watering.


The type of soil that your cactus is planted in will also determine its lifespan. This is mostly because certain soils are good for cacti and others are not. For example, soil that clings to water and retains moisture isn’t ideal for the reason we discussed above.

Straight potting soil isn’t an ideal mixture for cacti, while a combination of perlite and more sandy soil or some kind of stones and arid soil might prove to be better.

You generally want a soil that has plenty of drainage ability and dries out relatively quickly as most cacti like to dry out completely between watering.

Cactus Species

Like their floral counterparts, cacti come in a variety of species and, as such, require different care. This is another super important factor that plays into the longevity of any given cactus.

Like the different species of animals on the Earth, cacti are born (well, grown!) with a natural disposition. Based on this disposition, a cactus will be set up to live a longer or shorter life – especially in combination with how you, as the cacti owner, care for it.

Grow Your Own Cactus?

Growing your own cactus is fun! This grow your own cacti kit contains everything you need to grow an awesome prickly plant. In this kit, you will get 4 packets of non-GMO cacti seeds, 4 soil disks, shears, grow bags, and some awesome bamboo plant markers. Check it out!

How Long Do Cacti Live Indoors?

how long do cacti live

In general, cacti that are grown indoors live for a shorter time than those that are grown outside. Of course, everything from care to placement to species of cactus plays into this statistic, which makes this idea a rule of thumb but not necessarily law.

The average lifespan for indoor cacti is 10-15 years.

The reason for this short lifespan has to do with how much the plant must adapt to being indoors, which is destabilizing for it.

How Long Do Cacti Live Outdoors?

Cacti that live outdoors tend to thrive more than their indoor counterparts even though many indoor cacti are cared for with diligence and plenty of love.

This is likely because they are in their natural environment, which, of course, is ideal for any plant. When they are outside, some cacti have reportedly lived up to 200 years, with the average being 100-150 years.

How Long Do Different Cacti Species Live?

how long do cactus plants live

The species of a particular cactus is part of what determines, in part, how long it lives. There are thousands of cactus species but there are a few that are more common to see in the house.

How long do these common cacti species live, you might ask?

Let’s find out!

How Long Do Saguaro Cacti Live?

Saguaro cacti are the longest living cacti species known today. As such, they have an impressive lifespan of 200 years in their natural environment. Indoors, they still live longer than any other species as long as they are cared for correctly.

You can expect to have your saguaro cactus sitting in its planter long after you’ve come and gone from this Earth.

How Long Do Barrell Cacti Live?

Barrell cacti are popular for enthusiasts who live in more arid climates. They have a relatively long lifespan but not quite as long as the saguaro. These hardy cacti live 100 – 150 years.

How Long Do Prickly Pear Cacti Live?

When compared to the two types of cacti that we just talked about, the prickly pear cactus has a shockingly short lifespan. More specifically, this cactus lives only 25 to 30 years, which means it lives only a quarter of the time that the majority of other cacti species do.

So, how long do cacti live?

It depends, really!

With sunlight, water, species, and soil all playing significant parts in this equation, the saguaro cacti can live up to 200 years!

Most other species, however, don’t live quite this long, with most capping at 150 years maximum.

Remember that a cactus living outdoors will live longer than one sitting on your coffee table, and that sunlight is important but that there is a point where it can become too much for your cactus to handle.

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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!