Have you ever come across those tiny ball-like pups on barrel cacti? They are often mistaken as a precursor sign of blooming or a sign of something bad happening to the cactus.

The fact is they're harmless and just a natural part of the cactus's growth process! As the cactus grows, it creates little buddies that grow around it, forming a fantastic columnar or spherical shape. These little pups are like the cactus's babies, aiding it to expand and become bigger and marvelous.

If you're curious about how they form and what you can do with them, you're in the right place. Keep reading this blog to find out!


Are these little cactus pups harmful?


These prickly babies obtain their nutrients from the mother cactus during their development. However, if the mother cactus doesn't have enough nutrients to support the growth, the healthy and robust mother's body will eventually become thin and deformed, leading to the death of the pups. In such a case, the pups could become harmful. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure adequate nourishment for both the mother and the pups.

To provide your cactus plants with adequate nutrients, it is recommended to fertilize it with a compound fertilizer that is specifically formulated for cacti and is high in nitrogen content. This will facilitate the healthy growth of the pups and promote the establishment of a unique and harmonious "big family".


Can I pluck these pups from the mother cactus?


Absolutely! Removing the pups from the maternal cactus to propagate individual progenies is an effective method of cactus propagation. The technique is widely employed in the propagation of cacti due to its effectiveness and ease of implementation.

How to remove cactus pups for propagation?


Preparing for Cactus Pup Propagation


Kindly prepare the following valuable tools to propagate cacti successfully.

1) A pair of cactus-proof garden gloves or a tweezers

2) Planter pots with drainage holes (H≥2")

3) Well-drained cactus soil

4) A long-neck water bottle

5) A spray water bottle


Step 1: Remove the pups


Wear the gloves and gently twist off the cactus pups with your fingers, or get rid of them with the tweezers. Be careful not to damage the mother cactus or ruin the pups. After taking them off, placing the pups in a cool and well-ventilated area is necessary to allow the wound to scab, which further prevents infections and rot. Generally, we need to wait 3-5 days.


Step 2: Replant the babies


Cactus prefer a well-drained soil mix to survive. You can either prepare a professional cacti soil mix or add some gritty material like rocks, sand, and perlite to the soil. Add the soil mix to the planter pot, then dig a shallow small hole and put the cacti baby into it. You can grow several babies in one wider planter pot or plant them individually.


Step 3: Move the cactus in the right place


Whether succulents or cactus, they prefer to live in a dry, warm place with ample ventilation. For newly planted cacti, you should keep them in a bright location. Once their roots have been established, you can gradually expose them to more sunlight. 


Step 4: Give them proper watering


During the first week, it's important to mist some water over the topsoil and keep it moist. In the following weeks, reduce watering frequency until new roots begin to sprout. Once the roots have been established, you can water the plant deeply once the potting soil has dried out. Typically, one deep watering per week will suffice.

Propagating cactus plants through their pups is a simple and fascinating process. By providing adequate care and attention, the pups will sprout roots and develop into a new plant within a month. It is highly encouraged to try propagating cacti plants and see how they can bring a fun and fulfilling experience.




What's more interesting but barely known is that cacti are easy to care for, and the flowers are incredibly gorgeous and spectacular, making them a great addition to any living space. If you love flowering plants, you should definitely consider getting a cactus plant.


Many growers like to remove the top of the cactus and encourage new plant growth during the cacti growing season. This results in multi-headed cacti, which produce more flowers in clusters. With adequate sunlight and proper feeding, these groups of cacti flowers will create a stunning appearance.

You may wonder: How to Make a Christmas Cactus Bloom?

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