Sprouting Cactus and Succulent Seeds

  1. For best results, use a cactus soil mix. Buy one or make your own.
  2. Moisten the soil thoroughly.
  3. Sprinkle 6 to 10 seeds on the soil surface. Sprinkle a fine layer of soil or sand on top. Expose growing area to strong indirect light. Real sunlight is most beneficial for seeds, but you can use fluorescent or grow bulbs to sprout them as well.
  4. Seal growing area with glass or plastic, leaving plenty of room over the seeds for ventilation. If possible, maintain a soil temperature of 70-85ºF. Bottom heat is very effective. Good moisture, good drainage, very bright light, heat and aeration are important factors for high germination rates.
  5. Germination will take anywhere between a week to 4 months. Do not give up on your seeds unless you notice fungus. Keeping your soil consistently moist will ensure eventual success.
  6. When seedlings sprout, spray them with a light mist. Don’t let them dry out. Continue protecting them from direct sun light.
  7. For the first few weeks of growth, moisten the soil every 3-4 days. Once the plants are established, water every 3-4 weeks.
  8. Also check out this helpful video, specifically for sowing smaller seeds.

Sprouting Lithop Seeds

  1. The best time of year to sow Lithops depends on your climate and the conditions where you are growing them. The most important factor is that they get enough warmth. If it is too cold they will not germinate and if it is too hot the young seedlings might overheat. They can also be sown under lights at any time of year, but must be sown in a well-ventilated environment.
  2. Plastic pots measuring 10 cm in diameter work well for sowing batches of individual species and can easily accommodate 20-80 seedlings. It is advisable to sow each species in its own pot.
  3. The ideal medium to sow Lithops in is mainly mineral-based and contains very little organic matter. The mixture suggested for adult plants can be used, but should be sieved through a wire mesh with 2mm holes. Your mixture should be sterilized by placing it in an oven for a few minutes, and allowing it to cool for a while afterwards before you sow the seeds. The soil should be lightly compacted.
  4. Place a very thin layer of coarse sand of up to 3mm in thickness on top of the soil, just enough to cover the surface. This anchors the seeds and reduces the chances of any algae forming on top of the soil. Sprinkle the seeds evenly on top of this. For an even spread, a salt shaker is a fine tool to use.
  5. Once the seeds have been sown, you can again sprinkle a bit of fine sand very lightly over the top, just enough to cover them. If the seeds are sown to deeply below the surface, they can end up rotting.
  6. The pot can now be placed in a shallow tray of water with some fungicide in it. The water will be soaked up by the soil and when it reaches the surface, you can remove the pot.
  7. Your pot should receive a good amount of light, but some amount of shade during the day. Ventilation is also key. For the first few days the pot can be covered with clear plastic or a sheet of glass to keep the moisture from escaping too rapidly.
  8. Within a week or so the seedlings should start to emerge, and once they do, you can remove the cover. For the first three or four weeks you must keep the soil fairly damp, but not soggy. Mist them at least twice a day during the morning and afternoon.
  9. After about three to four weeks your seedlings should be fairly well developed. Healthy seedlings tend to be have a slight red tinge and should not be too green and tall.
  10. You can now slowly start to reduce the frequency of watering. After three to four months the cotyledons should be quite fat, and they will start their first leaf renewal.
  11. The seedlings must be left in their pots for as long as possible, up to two years unless they get overcrowded.
  12. When the young plants are ready for re-potting, you can gently tip the contents of their pots out and separate the plants. They can now be given the same treatment as adult Lithops.

Sprouting desert tree, shrub and other large seeds:

  1. Soak large, hard seeds overnight (up to 36 hours) in water to start the germination process.
  2. Bury the seeds firmly in your soil and sprinkle a little earth or sand over them. Thoroughly mist the soil.
  3. Germinate in full sun and remember that soil temperature is very important, 75ºF being the ideal for quick germination. However, anywhere between 65-80ºF will be just fine.
  4. Water your seeds attentively until they are well established and their roots are fully developed.