How to Make Painted Cactus Rocks

If you are looking for a fun craft to keep your kids amused… then you’ve found it!

Painted cactus rocks are easy, fun and you end up with a REALLY cute room decor item.

Cacti are hot right now (pun intended!). It seems that everywhere you look it’s either cacti or llamas! If your tween or teen is looking to decorate their room, then I bet they are considering one of those two! My daughter is completely obsessed with all things cactus!

So when I suggested that we find a craft to do on a wet Saturday afternoon, she jumped at the chance to make her own cacti garden!

Now, I will say that she’s had a small pot with a real cactus in her bedroom for a while… but somehow she manages to kill it! I replace it… she kills it again! I’m pretty sure she’s overwatering it, but who knows!

So these painted cactus rocks are a MUCH better idea for her!

Painted Cactus Rocks

Painted Cactus Rocks are a really simple craft and suitable for kids 5+. However, it will really appeal to older kids and teens as they can get very creative and they love making decor items for their bedroom.

Older kids will be able to do this craft without much adult supervision (just be nearby in case they spill the paint!). But, why not join in and do it together?! Parents do a lot of crafts with younger kids, but it’s so much fun to sit with your tween or teen and do a craft together. Steal those moments together while you can!

DIY Rock Painting Supplies

I love this craft because it doesn’t need any fancy supplies and everything is easy to get hold of – you might already have all the supplies you need.

You can buy rock painting kits, and I’ve tried a few of them, but they always seem to come with dark-colored rocks. Dark rocks are REALLY hard to paint because the color just doesn’t show unless you do a million coats of paint.

However, buying the supplies separately is MUCH cheaper than the kits. You can pick up a MASSIVE bag of landscape rocks at your local home improvement store (Lowes or Home Depot have them) for $5 or $10. One bag will provide you with enough rocks for dozens and dozens of projects!

Tip: Look for smooth rocks that are light in color.

Or you could go on a nature walk and collect the rocks yourself… free craft supplies are always awesome!

I used acrylic paint, which is cheap to get from a craft store or online. I already have quite a large stash of acrylic paints (#paintaddicition), so it worth checking what you already have before you buy some more.

These set of paints from Amazon which is EXCELLENT value – much cheaper than the craft stores (even with a coupon). So if you’re not a paint addict like me, then I strongly recommend getting this set. Acrylic paints are so useful for so many projects (I even used them in my Nebula in a Bottle project!), so it’s worth keeping some with your craft supplies.

For a varied look for your painted cactus rocks you will want at least 2 or 3 shades of green. As well as white and black paint. You might also want yellow or pink if you want to add tiny flowers to your cacti.

Then all you need is a few paint brushes of different thickness (I used a foam brush and a fine paint brush). That’s it!

How to Make Painted Cactus Rocks

Making painted cactus rocks is very simple! Before you start there’s a couple of preparation steps you want to do to make life easier for yourself!

DIY Painted Rocks Preparation

Once you’ve got all your supplies together, you want to make sure you protect your work surface. I cut up a large paper grocery bag, but you can use a plastic tablecloth too. It can be a bit of a messy craft, so it just makes cleaning up after the craft MUCH easier!

You will also want to wash and dry your rocks. They are probably a bit sandy and dirty, and that will stop the paint from sticking to the rock’s surface. So give them a quick wash with running water and dry them with a towel or paper towel. Make sure they are completely dry before painting them.

Step 1: Base Coat

You should have a selection of nice clean and dry rocks now, so they are ready to get their base coat.

Pick a shade of green and cover your rock with that color. I like to use a foam brush, but you can use any brush really. You can either paint one side at a time or (like we did) paint all the side and then turn the rocks over frequently while they are drying, so they don’t stick to your work surface!

Depending on the nature color of your rocks, it could take 3 or even 4 coats of green paint to cover them fully. You want a nice even and deep color, so it’s worth do this.

You’ll want to leave the cactus rocks to dry between coats of paint. We made a lot of rocks, so by the time we have finished them all, the first ones were dry enough for their second coat! We also had an electric fan blowing on them to speed up the drying time (impatient!).

Step 2: Detail

Once your base coats on your rocks are completely dry, you can add your detail. You’ll want to use a very fine brush for this – we had a few different thicknesses and ones to use with the black paint and the white paint.

It’s completely up to you how you decide to decorate the rocks. We did a mixture of strips, dots, tiny crosses, tiny v-shapes and more! Just have fun and experiment! If you make a mistake then you can quickly wipe the paint away with a damp paper towel if you act fast (so keep a damp paper towel nearby when you are painting).

If you are doing strips and dots on top (like the painted cactus rock on the right of this photo), then make sure your strip has dried before painting the dots. Otherwise the colors with mix together and not look as nice!

There are so many different ways you can paint your DIY painted cactus rocks! Just have fun and see what design you can come up with! (I really liked doing the strips with dots.)

Now you want to leave your rocks to completely dry… yes, you really do need to be patient now!

Step 3: Sealant (optional)

If you would like to display your rocks outside, then you will want to seal them to stop the sun and rain fading the paint. You can use Polycrylic sealant, Mod Podge or spray sealant. It really depends on how you plan to use the rocks and what conditions they will be subjected to!

Step 4: Display & Enjoy!

That’s it! You’re all finished with your DIY painted cactus rock project! Now you just need to decide how you’re going to display your rocks.

You could put them in a pot with loose pebbles to hold them in place. You could have them decorate a shelf or ledge. Or you could scatter them around your yard!

You could even take part in a Kindness Rock Project and share your creation with others!

I really hope you have as much fun making this project as my daughter and I did. It’s an easy project, but so fun and rewarding to see your very own pet painted cactus rock at the end! Enjoy!

DIY Painted Cactus Rocks

DIY Painted Cactus Rocks

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Estimated Cost: Less than $5

This is a simple and fun craft that your family will love! Painted cactus rocks are a perfect craft for older kids or teens to do on their own or with your help. Enjoy some quality time together while you make a fun home decor project that your kids will love to have in their bedroom or put in the yard.


  • Landscape Rocks (light colored and smooth is best)
  • Acrylic Paints (black, white, and at least 3 shades of green)
  • Spray Sealant (optional)


  • Paint Brushes


    1. Wash and dry rocks to remove loose sand and dirt.
    2. Apply a base coat of green paint to the rocks. Reapply base coat until the rocks are completely covered.
    3. Allow base coat to completely dry before moving onto the next step.
    4. Use a fine paint brush to apply the cactus details onto the rocks. You can use a mixture of strips, dots, v-shapes, stars and more.
    5. Allow to completely dry.
    6. Apply clear sealant to protect the painted rock from fading (optional).
    7. Display and Enjoy!


- Protect your work surface with an old plastic table cloth, brown paper bag, newspaper etc.

- I used old paper plates to dispense my paints on to. Once I've finished the project, I can just throw the entire plate away. It makes clean-up much easier and quicker.

- The best types of rocks are light colored. Avoid very dark colored rocks as they take a lot of coats of base paint to get a deep color.

Painted Rock Project - Cute Cacti!
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