Home Garden

How to Pollinate Cactus Flowers

Though it's usually done by insects, wind, bats, birds and mice, you too can pollinate cactus flowers to produce fruit and seeds. It's easy, fun and inexpensive, and the seeds you help produce will grow into new cactuses.

Things You'll Need

  • Two small paintbrushes or artist's brushes
Show More


  1. Cactus flower pollination

    • 1

      Select two of the same type cactus; two cactuses of different types will probably produce a hybrid, but in some cases nothing will happen. Before you begin, make the two brushes different and keep them separate by putting a piece of tape on one or by using brushes with different-colored handles.

    • 2

      Examine the cactus flower for pollen, especially the long stamens that contain the stigma, which look like little fingers inside the flower. You will notice a slight dusting of pollen inside the flower when it is ready, but if no pollen is present, check each day.

    • 3

      Clean the paintbrush or artist's brush by simply wiping it with a clean cloth; do not use any chemicals or detergents. Now wet your fingers with your tongue and gently wipe the bristles of the paintbrush to help the pollen stick.

    • 4

      Dip the brush into the stamens where the pollen can be seen and swirl it around to collect the pollen. Continue until you have a noticeable amount of pollen on the bristles.

    • 5

      Paint the pollen onto the end of the stigma of the second flower and repeat if you think it's necessary, then switch brushes and reverse the process by using the second brush, properly cleaned and wetted, to collect pollen from the second cactus flower. Paint the end of the stigma of the first cactus and repeat this process with each cactus.

    • 6

      Protect the flowers against further pollination by covering the entire plant with a clear plastic bottle or a nylon stocking held in place by a rubber band. If you feel confident that no pollinators such as bees or birds can get to the cactus, simply bring it indoors and place in a well lighted room for a couple of days.

    • 7

      Wait for viable seeds to form. Each species of cactus will ripen at a different pace; in some cases, you will need to wait an entire year.