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The 10 Fastest Growing Cacti For Your Home Or Garden

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Some folks like dandelions and roses, while others prefer something a little more rugged and with a Southwest or Central American flavor… that’s right, we’re talking about cacti today! Let’s face it, you just don’t see them grown as often and it’s really a shame – they’re really quite beautiful.

For the cactus lovers out there, today we’re going to share 10 of the fastest growing cacti for your home or garden so that you can get a few ideas for some new and interesting additions. Each of these is fairly easy to raise, as well, so if you’re ready then let’s get this cactus party started!

The Fastest Growing Cacti for Your Home or Garden

In the sections below we’ve compiled our 10 fastest growing cacti and for each one, we’ll tell you what kind of soil is best, how often you’ll need to water them, and how much sunlight they’ll need. Once we’re done with these, we’ll also cover a few frequently asked questions before we call it a day!

With that said, let’s take a peek at those 10 cacti and you can see which ones might be a good fit for you! 

1. Barbados gooseberry

Barbados gooseberry
Barbados gooseberry
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Pereskia aculeata
  • Other Names: Leaf Cactus, Rose cactus, blade-apple cactus

The Barbados gooseberry is a member of the cactus family, but you’d be hard put to tell it! That’s because this cactus has very thin stems and it climbs! As such, it’s more like a bush than the usual kind of cactus you might envision, and this ornamental cactus also has edible berries and leaves.

It’s a fast grower, as well. Every year, this cactus can grow about 3 feet, but you’ll want to trim it from time to time as it can grow to be 33 feet when fully matured! 

Cactus and succulent soil is going to be best for your Barbados gooseberry, just add some organics such as peat and make sure that it has good drainage (usually this commercial soil will, but have some extra perlite handy just in case!).

Watering should be deep and infrequent – simply wait for the soil to dry out first between waterings – and these plants like full sun to partial shade.

2. Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Schlumbergera bridgesii
  • Other Names: Crab cactus, Holiday cactus

The Christmas Cactus is a real beauty, with waxy medium-green leaves and red or pink flowers that you’re absolutely going to love. Did we mention that it flowers in winter?! While that’s not what you’d expect from a cactus, this is a tropical variety, and you can definitely tell the difference.

If you decide to bring one home, you won’t need a lot of space – they grow to be about 6 to 12 inches tall, with a 12 to 24 inch spread – and they’re also super low-maintenance and you can get that 24 inch spread in just 3 to 4 years!.

These cacti do best in a cactus and succulent soil mix, or you could use a good potting soil and add a little limestone and perlite, for slight acidity and drainage (these plants like a pH of 5 to 7). 

Watering is typically done once every 2 – 3 weeks, whenever the top 3rd of the soil is dry and your Christmas Cactus needs a lot of bright, indirect light although it will still grow in medium, indirect light.   

3. Crested Twin-spined cactus

Crested Twin-spined cactus
Crested Twin-spined cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Mammillaria geminispina nobilis f. cristata
  • Other Names: Whitey, White Cactus

The Crested Twin-spined cactus is spiney like most cacti, but definitely has an aesthetic all its own. Growing as silver-needled orb-shapes in clumps with smaller pups that it produces, you’ll definitely turn a head or two growing these – especially as they get older and those orbs lengthen and twine like a bed of snakes!

Especially in the spring. That’s when they get the cherry on top of the ice cream, so to speak – with magenta or deep pink flowers appearing on the top and center on younger cacti and sprinkled all over when they’re older.

As far as size, you can expect your twin-spined cactus to grow up to 8 – 10 inches tall, with a spread of about 30 inches wide, and while it grows fairly quickly it can take 6 to 7 years before it will flower – so you’ll need to be patient. 

For soil, a commercial cactus and succulent mix does nicely,  or you can use a potting soil with peat or limestone added for a little extra acidity – ideally, it needs to be well-draining and with a pH of 6.1 to 6.5. 

Water your Crested Twin-spined cactus deeply, but only when the soil is completely dry, and all that’s left is to give it full sun to partial shade and your cactus is going to thrive!

4. Dragon Fruit cactus

Dragon Fruit cactus
Dragon Fruit cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Hylocereus undatus
  • Other Names: Dragon fruit, Pitaya

What do you get when you cross a weeping willow with a cactus? We believe it would look something like the Dragon Fruit cactus, which grows centrally and extends long vines up and then down, much like a mop that’s been planted by its pole into the ground!

In the early summer to mid-autumn your Dragon fruit cactus will flower, but it’s hard to catch it in the act – that’s because the large, white flowers bloom at night and will only last a single evening! Fruits on mature plants tend to be at their peak between August and September and will be a lovely pink or bright yellow.

 You’ll want to grow these outside, as Dragon fruit cacti can grow to be 10 to 20 feet tall, with a spread as much as 10 feet wide, and you’ll need to be in California, Hawaii, or Florida, as these are the only states you can grow them in unless you are trellising them indoors and have a lot of space.

They also can grow in excess of an inch in a day – so keep that in mind!

Soil-wise, Dragon fruit cacti like a sandy, well-draining soil that has a pH between 6 and 7 and they need 6 to 8 hours daily of full sunlight. Last but not least, water your cactus when the top 2 inches of soil are dry and your Dragon fruit cactus will do well!

5. Easter cactus

Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri)
Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri)
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri
  • Other Names: Whitsun cactus

The fast-growing Brazilian Easter cactus gets its name from the flowers it produces around Easter! While those flowers will typically be pink, there are varieties that can produce orange, red, and many other colors as well.

Since it’s a rainforest cactus, it looks more like a houseplant than a desert cactus, with rounded, light to medium green leaves until it’s time to flower and show off! Size-wise, these cacti grow to be 6 to 12 inches tall with a spread of approximately 1 to 2 feet wide, so they’re quite easy to house and manage.

The best soil for an Easter cactus is a cactus and succulent soil, with a little peat added for extra acidity – it prefers a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 – and you’ll want to be careful not to overwater it.  If you wait until the soil dries completely and then give it a deep watering, then this will be exactly what it needs.

Last but not least, avoid direct sunlight, but instead provide bright, indirect light and your Easter cactus should be happy and content!

6. Orchid Cactus

Orchid Cactus
Orchid Cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Epiphyllum
  • Other Names:  Climbing cacti, Leaf cacti

The Orchid cactus is a type of climbing cactus that has leaflike, flattened stems that can grow flowers of various colors, depending on the variety you choose. Those stems, however, are consistent between the different types and can get as long as 2 feet and grow at a rate of up to 15 inches every year, so they’ll be full-sized fairly quickly.

Fully mature, Orchid cacti measure 2 – 10 feet in height, with a spread 2 to 10 feet wide (although indoor Orchid cactus will tend towards the smaller sizes).

To raise an Orchid cactus, you’ll want a medium of 3 parts potting soil, along with some small or medium pumice mixed in for your remaining 1 part. Water it moderately once a week in the spring and summer, but in the fall every 2 weeks and in winter, once a month.

For sunlight, give it bright, indirect light, and it can stand a few hours of direct sunlight in the morning (but no more) if you have a spot that fits the bill.

7. Eve’s needle

Eve's needle cactus
Eve’s needle cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner 
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Austrocylindropuntia subulata
  • Other Names:   Eve’s pin

A tree-cactus native to the Peruvian Andes mountains, The Eve’s needle cactus is definitely eye-catching!  With red flowers in spring and up-to-5-inch leaves of green and yellow that climb up the sides it definitely has a distinctive appearance and it’s very fast-growing once established.

How fast? Try up to 3 feet in one year! Outside, they can grow to be between 10 and 13 feet, although indoors you should expect about half of that.

To grow Eve’s pin cacti, you’ll want a soil medium of  equal parts cactus and succulent soil, pumice, loam, and sand, and you’ll want to water it whenever the soil has mostly dried out (typically once a week).

Finally, give your Eve’s needle lots of bright direct or indirect sunlight, the more the better, and then your cactus will have everything it needs!

8. Cholla cactus

Cholla cactus
Cholla cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia
  • Other Names: Varies, see description

Cholla cacti are native to Mexico and come in over 20 varieties, with the most common ones you’ll see being Silver, Buckthorn, Teddy bear, California, and Chain-Link cholla. While they will vary in size based on the type that you select, most Chollas are very fast growers – growing up to 15 inches per year.

They are all easy to grow, but best cultivated indoors and in pots, as they are very prolific to the point that they are even outlawed in Spain! 

For growing them at home, go with a cactus or succulent soil, and you’ll want to water your Cholla cactus ONLY when the soil is completely dried out. This usually comes out to every 2 to 4 weeks, but once you’ve taken care of yours for a bit then you’ll learn a more exact frequency.

For sunlight, go with 6 to 7 hours of direct sunlight and your Cholla will be ‘good to grow’!

9. Peruvian apple cactus

Peruvian apple cactus
Peruvian apple cactus
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Cereus peruvianus
  • Other Names: Hedge cactus, Giant club cactus

If you want to make a cactus maze and live in a locale that supports it, then the Peruvian apple cactus might just be perfect for your designs! These cacti can grow to be 10 to 20 feet, and sometimes even more, with a spread of 15 or more feet.

That’s a pretty big cactus and while it grows fast, it will take awhile to get full-sized, as 2 to 4 feet per year is the expected growth rate.

If growing outside, you’ll need to be in USDA zones 9 to 11, but you can certainly grow them indoors in a large pot. A regular potting soil with lots of vermiculite, perlite, and some organic matter will be just about perfect and you’ll want to water this cactus only when the soil is almost completely dried out.

With sunlight, more is better, so you’ll need to target 6 to 8 hours of full, direct sunlight for best results!

10. Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus in the desert
Prickly Pear Cactus in the desert
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Scientific Name: Opuntia 
  • Other Names: Barbary fig, Indian fig

Opuntia is a genus and the cacti within it are known as Prickly pear cacti. There are many varieties out there, which means you’ll have a lot of choices, but the base appearance will generally be similar along the genus.

The leaves are broad, flat, and spined, and you’ll get flowers of bright yellow, pink, and other colors depending on the variety you choose. Many of these will grow fruit, as well, and the fastest growing opuntias can grow around 15 inches per year.

If you’d like to raise one yourself, you’ll want to start with a well-draining soil medium of sandy loam with perlite. Watering is very low-maintenance, in that you’ll simply wait until the soil dries completely out before you water it again – they are VERY drought tolerant.

Lastly, 6 to  hours of full, direct sunlight will be the last piece of the happy cactus puzzle, so be sure to find a nice south-facing window if you are growing your cactus indoors!

FAQ

It’s time to wind things up but before we go, we’ve got a few frequently asked questions that we’ll address before we officially wrap things up and go our merry way. Let’s take a look and then we’ll close things out properly!

Why do most cacti grow slowly?

Most cacti grow slowly because they’ve evolved that way as a survival trait. Arid environments are tough to survive, so a reduced growth rate is a lot more sustainable than ‘fast and furious’ growth in an environment that might not support the required resources.

Keep in mind, however, that there are cacti that grow in tropical and sub-tropical environments, and some severely drought-resistant varieties that can actually grow quite quickly – it all depends on the type of cactus!

How do I make my cactus grow faster?

Plenty of light and fertilizer are usually going to be the key. Check on your specific type of cactus, but generally fertilizing in the spring or summer can really help to speed up your cactus’s growth.

Also, if it’s a species that can handle direct sunlight (and most are), try gradually giving it a little and increasing amount slowly – direct sunlight is always better if you have a species that can handle it.

What is the slowest growing cactus?

That would be the Aztekium cactus, which grows the slowest because of its environment – steep cliff faces in Mexico! Since it has to grow in such an arid area, typically on limestone and gypsum formations, this cactus grows extremely slowly in small, isolated cactus clumps.

These cacti are pretty rare, however, as they are ONLY found in Galeana, in Nuevo Leon Mexico.

In Conclusion

Today we’ve shared with you 10 of the fastest growing cacti for your home or garden and you’ve really got a lot of great options. You have some lovely seasonal bloomers, like Eastern and Christmas cactus, some fruit bearing cacti like Barbados Gooseberry and Dragon fruit, and climbers like the orchid cactus… just to name a few!

While some are designed for arid climes, some of the more colorful options are tropical, so be sure to pay close attention to the soil requirements to ensure that you start things off right. After that, most need very infrequent watering, and you’ve just got to arrange the species-specific sunlight placement and you’re good to go!

It’s one of the perks of cacti – they’re all easy to take care of and pretty hard to kill – so it doesn’t get much lower maintenance than these lovely cactus plants. That’s all that we have for today but we’d like to thank you so much for visiting today and we hope to see you again soon!

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