Cactus Pups | Why Are They So Important ? |

Cactus pups are more like the smaller version of the mature cactus. Pups are also called offsets. 

You could spot them forming around the base of the cactus (most of the time). Many people choose to use the cactus pups to make new plants. 

In fact, using pups is one of the easiest ways of propagating the plants. Even a fresher in gardening can conduct propagation. 

You simply have to remove the offsets and root them in a suitable substrate. Once you propagate the pups, it would avoid creating crowded pots as well. 

So, this article is entirely about the cactus pups , how to use them for propagation and the way how you should look after them etc.

Cactus Pups

Why are my cactus growing pups?

Cactus produces pups and it will allow you to have new plants. They will arise as small clumps around the plants. Further, You can easily separate them from the parent plant and make new cacti from them.

When can you separate cactus pups?

I recommend the best time to separate the cactus puppies during late spring or early summer. Having said that, if you are growing cacti as indoor plants, you can separate them at any time.

How to encourage cactus pups

Watering the cactus properly is very crucial when you are trying to encourage them to grow faster. Hence best would be to stick to a watering schedule whilst exposing them for proper air circulation as well. 

Further never water them with too hot or too cold water. Instead, the water at room temperature would suit them the best. 

Further you need to apply fertilizers also when they actively grow. Not only that but also, you need to let them go into dormancy during cold periods as well.

Cactus Pups

How to root cactus pups

First and foremost, you need to remove the offsets from the parent plants before starting the rooting of the cactus

To do that, you need to obtain a sharp knife and disinfect it with some isopropyl alcohol or with a bleach solution. Once you do this step, it will assure that it would not cause infection in the cactus. 

Next select a nice-looking pup and snip I off at an angle of 45 degrees.

However, when you cut it, ensure that it will deflect water so that it would not result in rot. Further some gardeners tend to dust the cut ends of the pups with sulfur powder so that it would avoid any potential rot issue or any other fungal infection. 

With that being said, if you use all calloused pups , you can skip using the sulfur powder. The rooting would take place within a few weeks’ time. 

However, it could vary depending on the conditions you provide them. If you spot the cut ends are dry and hardened that literally means the offsets are rooting.

Keep in mind to get rid of the older soil around the pups when you use them for propagation. 

Ideally you need to remove soil from the top part of the pup so that you could see whether the pup is carrying any parts from the parent plant. 

See also  Coral Cactus Growing Leaves ( Don't Worry It's Not a Problem )

If you could spot any part of the parent plant, you need to cut them off. If you don’t do that, it will lead to rot which will badly affect the pups as well.

To root the pups, you can simply place them in a dry soil mix which consists of gravel for some time. Observe the plants well and if you spot them producing roots you need to take them out and plant them in small pots. 

You can do this only if the pups have grown vigorous roots only.

Should I remove cactus pups?

It is not mandatory to remove the offsets. In fact, it depends on your wish. However, when they grow in the wild. They would usually grow in clumps. 

There could be some who wish to see their plants as solitary plants and not in clusters. In that context, you need to remove them from the mother plants and grow them as solitary plants.

How to remove cactus pups ?

First of all, the ideal time to remove the offsets would be either late spring or early summer. Having said that, when you grow them as indoor plants, you can remove them at any time you want. 

However, when you remove them, ensure that they are at least 1/5 inch of the sizes of the parent plants. 

You can get a disinfected knife and gently remove them from the parent plant without damaging it. As aforesaid you need to cut the pups at an angle of 45 degrees.

Cactus Pups

How to repot cactus pups ?

When repotting you need to simply plant them in planters which have ample drainage. 

Moreover, once you plant them, ensure that you cover one third to one half of the base with soil so that the pups will stay stable and will end up falling over. 

Besides, refrain from burying the cactus also. Once you complete the transplant you should place the specimen in a spot where they can gain indirect bright sunlight. Furthermore, keep it lightly moistened too. Do not make their soil waterlogged though.

How do you take care of a baby cactus?

Cactus pups watering

Despite how small these pups are, it is important that you water them moderately as they need adequate water to thrive well. 

Cacti can conserve water in the stems and in the leaves. However , you still need to water them from time to time as appropriately. 

Do not make them go deprived of water for too long as it would be unhealthy. Cacti pups require water as much as the regular cacti want too. 

Ensure that you water the pups only when their soil is dry. . It is quite similar to the way you water the regular grown-up cacti.

Further when you water them, ensure that you conduct it thoroughly. Let them absorb the necessary water level and check whether the excess water is moving out from the draining holes.

The watering frequency could change depending on where the plants are and depending on the season as well. If we think of watering the pups during winter, you can water them just once a month. 

See also  Mammillaria Spinosissima | 14 Secret Care Facts For You |

However, once the weather conditions heat up, you need to water them once every two weeks or even once a week. 

During summer as you may expect, the moisture would evaporate faster. If you are into cactus gardening , you know that you should never over water the plants at any given time. 

So, you need to practice the same concept when it comes to watering the cactus pups also. Unless it would lead to fungal infections as well as bacterial infections. 


What you need to mainly look in a right soil mix to grow the cactus pups is to check whether they have excellent drainage. 

Cacti prefer to grow in substrates which are fast draining as then the excess water will move away from the pot without retaining within. 

Many people opt to go for commercially made succulent and cactus soil mix as they fulfill this requirement. However, you may also make a soil mix on your own too. 

You may consider adding substances such as pumice to better the draining of the soil mix.

Light requirements

The exposure for proper sunlight level is also a crucial factor when taking care of the cacti pups. Cacti are desert loving fans as they usually grow in hot and dry conditions when they grow in the natural habitats.

Moreover, you need to ensure that you supply the required sunlight levels to encourage blooming also. Once they are in bloom, they still need to have proper sunlight to maintain the beauty of the blooms.

When you grow them indoors, choose a bright sunny windowsill to locate them. It will assure that they get necessary sunlight levels. 

Further you can be tactful in ratting the pups so that it will allow the whole plants to absorb sunlight evenly. 

Unless you keep exposing the plants for just one side, it will result in sunburns and the rest of the plants would run out of sunlight. Consequently, you could spot them becoming etiolated.


Pups do not require any fertilizers at all. All they need is moderate watering and exposure to sufficient sunlight. 

However, once they start to develop into adult plants, you need to consider feeding them at least once a year particularly during their active growing season which would most probably be either spring or summer . 

Many of the cacti would reach into dormancy during winter. Hence don’t ever feed them during winter. 

Once you feed them it would enhance the growth of the plants as well as the flowering activity. Do not leave any fertilizer to be on the body as it could be harmful.

Temperature and humidity

Usually, cactus pups opt to grow well with warmer temperatures. Hence if the plants are experiencing colder weather conditions, you need to immediately shift them indoors so that you can protect them from such unhealthy conditions. In terms of the right humidity aspect, they can perform well with the humidity levels at the room temperature.

Cactus Pups


Cacti pups are prone for fungal attacks as well as for bacterial attacks given that there are lapses in growing care tips. 

See also  Does Pencil Cactus Purify Air? 6 Amazing Facts

Moreover, they may be subject to virus attacks also. Apart from these, root rot is another commonly spotted disease among these. 

If there is a forecast of winter, you need to water them less or not water at all. If you water them in excess in winter, it will make the plants more susceptible to these diseases. Further chances are that it may even result in the deaths of the plants.

Further if you under water the cacti pups, that would also lead to unwanted problems such as root rot. In fact, when the pups run short of enough water, their roots would turn out to be dry. 

Ultimately, the vigorous root development of these cacti would be badly affected, and it will further force them to strive harder to survive in winter.

Cactus pups dying

If you spot your cactus pups starting to discolor , that would be a sign of the cactus pup dying. You could spot that either on the top end of the stem parts or even at the base of the plants. 

Besides, if you could spot your cactus pups have become wobbly, it literally means the pups are dying.

Further if you spot your cactus turning yellow or brown in color, that literally means the pups are severely affected and dying.

Literally it is a sign of root rot which could result in the death of the pups mostly. In fact, it is very unlikely that you can save the pups if the root rot has spread on a massive scale. However, if the root rot has taken place on a minor level, you can consider repotting the pups.

Apart from the above, if you come across any fungal infections of the cacti that also mean that the plants are dying.

In fact, it would cause laceration in the tissues of the pups. If you identify this at the earlier stage, you can revive the plants from treating them with fungicides.

Additionally, you may also use tea tree oil diluted in water to treat them too. However, if the fungal infection has spread on a severe level best would be to snip off the damaged plant parts so that the healthy plant part can survive.

Apart from these, if you come across any foul smell from your cactus, that literally means the plant is completely rotten and it is very unlikely that you can save the plants.

To further elaborate on this, the plants are not dying but they are dead. In that circumstance what you could do is to get rid of the plant entirely and go ahead with a new plant.

What do you do with cactus puppies?

If your cactus pup does not contain any roots, you can simply place them in dry soil along with some gravel. If not, you can plant them in a planter in which you have filled it with ground charcoal and with perlite.

Credit to : Desert Plants of Avalon
Read Next : How Do Cactus Reproduce? | There Are 2 Ways |
About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.