How Fast Do Cacti Grow: 4 Ways To Encourage a Fast Growing Cactus

how fast do cacti grow

Cacti are known for their hardy nature, not necessarily for them being fast growers. But how fast do cacti grow? While every cactus is different, there are some that grow significantly faster than others. In this article, we’ll explore why cacti don’t grow very quickly, and how you can help your own house cactus to grow more quickly.

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How Fast Do Cacti Normally Grow?

Cacti are not known for being speedy in growing! Sometimes it’s hard to tell if it’s grown at all in a year even just by looking at it. So how fast does the average cacti grow? Usually about a few centimeters (or an inch) a year.

The reason for this is because they are about survival, and survival for cacti isn’t about growing new leaves, it’s about containing water. They also just don’t have the resources to grow quickly, since they are focusing again on staying alive in a desert environment.

So while your cactus may not grow very quickly, it doesn’t need much water and can be left alone for the most part, making it a fun cute house plant!

(Keep reading about how long does it take a cacti to grow here)

How Fast Do Cacti Grow? Encourage A Fast Growing Indoor Cactus

If you have a cactus at home and really want it to grow faster, there are a few factors you can influence to aid it in speeding up slightly. These include the temperature, sunlight, water, nutrients fed, and size of container.

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Is your cactus going the wrong way and shrinking? Find out why.

Temperature & Sunlight are Important for a Fast Growing Cactus

Like most plants that grow significantly in the spring and summer compared to in the winter, cacti are the same. To make your cactus grow faster, you want to emulate that temperature and light year round in a controlled environment.

Or just expect to see your cactus mostly grow in the spring and summer.

Ex: I got my bunny ear cactus last Easter, and it didn’t seem to grow for almost a year, and then the following summer, all of a sudden it shot up two new ears, almost overnight.

bunny ear cactus
The bunny ear cactus when I got it
fast growing bunny ear cactus
The bunny ear cactus about a year later, in more direct sunlight


Water is also an important factor in how fast cactus grow. While they do not need much water, being watered regularly (every few weeks) will encourage faster growth. Make sure that when you water your cactus, the soil is completely saturated and then allowed to dry out before being watered again.

Cacti are made to survive droughts, which keeps their growth slow to use less energy, but with regular watering they can use more energy to grow taller and wider.

Nutrients For Cactus Growth

Cacti do need nutrients to grow, but not like other plants. You can feed your cactus a diluted liquid fertilizer every few months with a little extra water, or use slow-release pellets around the soil base. Make sure this is a cactus specific fertilizer and to not use too much (or you may accidentally burn the roots).

I always prefer a liquid fertilizer to a pellet one, like this Cute Farms Cactus Fertilizer

Right Size Container (for potted cactus)

Another important aspect of speed of growth is to have the cactus in just the right size container, or maybe slightly smaller. You do NOT want to have the cactus in a large pot if growing it potted indoors.

Root Growth vs Top Growth

If you have a cactus in too large of a pot, it will focus on root growth rather than top growth. While this may still classify as cactus growth, it’s not the kind that you can see.

Having a pot size that just fits the cactus allows it to grow up because it’s got a good root base to support the cactus and allow it to grow to catch more sunlight and hold more water.

You may also be interested in: how fast do air plants grow?

How Fast Do Cacti Grow: In Summary

Cacti are not fast growing, but they can be encouraged to grow faster with the right temperature, light, water, and nutrient factors. While it is still going to be a slow process, you should see some faster growth in your cactus if you follow these guidelines for how fast do cacti grow!

Take pictures every few months of your cactus to really see the growth, otherwise you might miss it!

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Looking for information specific to Colorado? Check out Naturalist Perspective!

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