10 Fastest Growing Cactus

The cactus is a plant adapted to survive in harsh, dry environments. One of the ways it has done this is by developing specialized structures that allow it to conserve water and minimize transpiration. These cacti are often sought after for their ability to provide quick coverage and decorative value in landscaping.

The growth rate of these cacti can be attributed to various factors, including their genetics, environment, and care.

Some species can grow several inches in a single growing season, while others may take several years to reach their full potential.

Regardless of their specific growth rate, the fastest-growing cacti are an impressive sight to behold and can significantly impact the landscape in a relatively short period. They are also known for their ability to thrive in challenging conditions, such as hot and dry climates.

10. Christmas Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 10 centimeters per year
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera
 Country of Origin: South America
Lifespan: approx. 20-30 years depending on climate conditions

Christmas Cactusphoto source: freepik.com

Schlumbergera is a genus of Christmas cacti in the Cactaceae family. It is a Brazilian native and an epiphyte that thrives in jungles. It grows well as a houseplant, favoring moisture but adaptable to various residential conditions, with thick stems and beautiful leaves.

A well-cared-for specimen can live for over a hundred years, enlivening your space for decades.

Did You Know:

Schlumbergera is named after Frederic Schlumberger, a 19th-century French cactus collector and enthusiast.


9. Peruvian Apple cactus

Growth Speed: approx.10-15 centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Cereus repandus
 Country of Origin: South America and Australia
Lifespan: approx. 10-20 years depending on climate conditions

Peruvian Apple cactusphoto source: worldofsucculents.com

Cereus peruvianus is a cactus species native to the arid regions of Peru and Chile. It is also known as the Peruvian apple cactus or the Peruvian torch cactus.

The plant is a columnar cactus with tall, slender stems that can grow approx. 30 feet (9 meters) in height. It has areolas (small, circular structures) with spines in a spiral pattern.

It produces large, white flowers that bloom at night and are pollinated by moths or bats. The fruit of C. peruvianus is small, green, round, and edible. The plant is often used as an ornamental plant in gardens and is prized for its unusual appearance and striking flowers.

Did You Know:

C.repandus has several other uses. The plant’s fruit is edible and is sometimes used in cooking or made into drinks. The plant’s spines and hairs are also used in traditional South American medicine to treat various ailments.


8. Mexican Giant Cardon Cactus

Growth Speed: 20-30 centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Pachycereus pringlei
 Country of Origin: Northwest Mexico and North America
Lifespan: approx. 50-100 years depending on climate conditions

Mexican Giant Cardon Cactusphoto source: worldofsucculents.com

Pachycereus pringlei is endemic to northwestern Mexico. This remarkable plant (the tallest cactus species in the world) can survive hundreds of years and grow over 10m tall. However, when cultivated as a house plant, it grows to a much more manageable size. As it matures, it has a columnar growth pattern with ribbed stems and many tree-like branches.

Did You Know:

In its native habitat, P. pringlei is an important food source for animals, including deer, birds, and rodents. The plant’s fruit is edible and is often eaten by these animals. The plant is also a host plant for the butterfly species Eumaeus atala, which feeds on the plant’s nectar.


7. San Pedro Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 30+ centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Echinopsis pachanoi
 Country of Origin: Northwest Mexico and North America
Lifespan: approx. 50 depending on climate conditions

San Pedro Cactusphoto source: healingmaps.com

The San Pedro cactus is one of the thorny plants with the most stunning blossoms. It grows quickly and can reach a height of 4 meters. Despite appearances, it may be kept in a container for the rest of its life because its roots are superficial and its stem is no more than 30 cm thick.

It is a cactus with a dark green branched stem that can grow up to 7 meters tall, though it usually does not grow higher than 4 meters. It is thorny to the point where its spines can grow 2 cm long, especially in youth. The flowers appear only at night and close in the morning, measuring up to 23 centimeters in length and being mildly perfumed.

Did You Know:

Echinopsis pachanoi is a psychoactive plant used for centuries in traditional South American medicine and spiritual practices. It contains the alkaloid mescaline, which is a psychoactive compound.


6. Cholla Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 40 centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Cylindropuntia imbricata
 Country of Origin: Northern Mexico and Southwestern United States
Lifespan: approx. 50-100 years depending on climate conditions

Cholla Cactusphoto source: worldofsucculents.com

Cholla cacti are recognized for their hardiness; as long as they have plenty of sunlight, they will be content. When cultivating cholla, one thing to avoid is excessive dampness. These cacti are drought-tolerant but can be easily overwatered, especially if they don’t get enough sun.

Cholla cacti rarely bloom when cultivated indoors, but when they do, blooms appear from April until mid-July. Depending on the species, flowers are cup-shaped and come in various colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, and even green.

Did You Know:

Cholla cactus is illegal to sell in Spain since it is considered invasive.


5. Dragon Fruit Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 40 centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Hylocereus undatus
 Country of Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: approx. 10-20 years depending on climate conditions

Dragon Fruit Cactusphoto source: animals.sandiegozoo.org

Hylocereus undatus is a species of cactus that is also known as the dragon fruit or pitahaya. It is native to Central and South America and cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. The plant is a climbing cactus with slender, green stems and large, flat, heart-shaped leaves.

It produces large, white flowers that bloom at night and are pollinated by bats or moths. The fruit of H. undatus is oval or oblong and has bright pink or red skin with green scales. The fruit’s flesh is white, pink, or red and contains small, edible seeds. The fruit is high in antioxidants and is said to have several health benefits.

Did You Know:

Hylocereus undatus is native to Central and South America. Still, it is grown in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide, including Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and parts of Australia.


4. Epiphyllum Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 40 centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Hylocereus undatus
 Country of Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: approx. 100 years depending on climate conditions

Epiphyllum Cactusphoto source: twopeasinacondo.com

Epiphytic or climbing cacti with long flattened branches that appear to be leaves and massive flowers. Known as Santa Teresa’s feathers or ladies of the night.

They typically grow approximately 40cm per year, but they can produce stems up to 1m long under ideal conditions. This growth is now appearing from the plant’s base.

The old stems do not grow much, usually more than 20cm per year. The maximum height varies depending on whether they have support, but it is roughly 2m for climbing and hanging.

Did You Know:

Epiphyllum plants are epiphytes, meaning they grow on other plants or trees and get their nutrients from the air and water in their environment rather than the soil.


3. Prickly Pear Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 80 centimeters per year  
Scientific Name: Opuntia
 Country of Origin: Mexico
Lifespan: approx. 100 years depending on climate conditions

Prickly Pear Cactusphoto source: gardeningknowhow.com

Opuntia is a highly adaptable plant used for food, medicine, and even fuel by humans for centuries. The plant is native to Mexico but has been introduced to many other parts of the world and has become naturalized in many areas. The prickly pear cactus is known for its distinctive flattened pads, modified stems, and its colorful, edible fruits.

These fruits, known as prickly pears, are high in antioxidants and have been used to treat various ailments, including diabetes and high cholesterol. The plant is also used as a source of natural dye and as a source of biofuel.

Did You Know:

In some parts of the world, the juice from Opuntia cacti is used to make a natural fabric dye.


2. Blade-Apple Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 0.5-1 meter per year  
Scientific Name: Pereskia aculeata
 Country of Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: approx. 50-100 years depending on climate conditions

Blade-Apple Cactusphoto source: wikimedia.org

Pereskia aculeata is a shrub with long, clambering branches that can grow 10 m tall in trees. Like others in the genus Pereskia, these plants are peculiar cacti with spiky non-succulent stems and huge leaves.

The plant climbs over walls, rocks, and trees in tropical America, and when in bloom, it is covered with spectacular, fragrant blossoms, followed by lovely clusters of yellow berries. Still, its strong, almost irritating odor makes it unsuitable for growing near habitations.

This plant has various races that vary in the leaf form and size and the color of the blooms.

Did You Know:

Pereskia aculeata is a source of natural rubber, and the sap from its stems and branches has been used to make rubber products.


1. Eve’s Pin Cactus

Growth Speed: approx. 1 meter per year  
Scientific Name: Austrocylindropuntia subulata
 Country of Origin: Central and South America
Lifespan: approx. 50-100 years depending on climate conditions

Eve's Pin Cactusphoto source: cabidigitallibrary.org

Eve’s Pin Cactus is the fastest-growing cactus that can grow 1 meter per year. It is a tree cactus species native to the Peruvian Andes. A mature plant’s leaves are awl-like and green-yellow, up to 5 inches long. It can reach a height of 13 feet in its natural habitat but is considerably smaller under cultivation.

Plant cactus and succulent soil in a clay pot with multiple drainage holes. Grow in the sun until frost, then bring it inside to a sunny area. Watering should be reduced in the winter.

It does not grow very tall, seldom exceeding 3m, but increases in width at an alarming rate. This implies it must be placed far apart from other cacti to grow successfully without covering them.

Did You Know:

Austrocylindropuntia subulata has several traditional medicinal uses among indigenous people in its native range. The fruit is high in vitamin C and has been used to treat various ailments, including colds, fevers, and diarrhea. The plant has also been used to treat wounds and skin conditions.

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