Blooming Patterns of Different Cactus Flowers

5 min read

Many people see cacti as those spiky green plants that appear in the desert. Even movies and cartoons can’t avoid throwing in a cactus in desert scenes just to add a touch of realism. Therefore, many people can’t imagine cacti among the ranks of flowering plants. Their seeing one bloom usually results in surprise.

However, cacti aren’t as uninteresting as you may think. In fact, every kind of cactus that exists is capable of blooming. Of course, the right conditions need to be in place, and the plant needs to be mature.

Though they may seem like they need no care, some cactus plants can never flower without it. Others bloom based on age, as well as the right conditions.

This article looks at the following:

  • Holiday cacti
  • Round cacti
  • Short-stem cacti
  • Columnar cacti
  • Conditions that encourage blooming

Once you’re through, your friends can call you the resident cactus expert.

Holiday Cacti

This kind of cactus tends to surprise people who see them. This is because they look so different from the traditional aesthetic that people associate with a cactus. A big part of this is because they grow in a less traditional manner than other cacti do.

It’s natural for you to expect them to grow in their own soil and stand on their own. However, these plants grow on other trees as epiphytes. Brazilian trees in rainforests are usually their hosts.

Even with that difference, if they had the usual spiky look, the resemblance wouldn’t be hard to see. However, the stems don’t have a traditional look either. While they are green, they are very flat, and they even look like leaves.

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They only bloom in conditions that are cool or cold, which means that fall and winter seasons trigger them. They are also known to prefer partial shade.

Round Cacti

This group hosts most cacti that produce many flowers. Some of the most common among these are rebutias (hybrids and Rebutia spp.) and pincushion cacti (hybrids and Mammillaria spp.). There’s a long wait to see these cacti bloom after they begin sprouting, since they take up to four years. Even so, it’s much shorter than the time needed for some others.

Rebutia cacti are native to South America. The flowers they produce can be purple, orange, yellow, and red. These flowers emerge from the base of the stem, which is quite a sight to behold. These cacti are low growing.

Pincushion cacti are native to Mexico and the United States. They tend to produce flowers that are pink, white, green, yellow, magenta, or lavender. The flowers are star-shaped, and they produce a beautiful ring at the top of the stem. They can look columnar instead of round with age.

Short-stem Cacti

This is another kind of cacti that is native to both Mexico and the United States. As they grow, they tend to form clumps of numerous stems. Their stems can mature before they are two feet tall, and these are known to flower within five years.

They typically flower during the spring season, and these flowers are known to be large. The flower colors are red, magenta, and pink. There are different species that fall under this category, and the USDA zones that they grow in vary.

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The Easter lily cactus (hybrids and Echinopsis oxygona) is found in USDA zones eight to 11. Their flowers are red, magenta, lavender, or pink.

The hedgehog cactus is found in USDA zones five to 11, while the peanut cactus is found in USDA zones eight to 11. They tend to produce brilliant orange flowers that can be over an inch wide.

Columnar Cacti

These cacti grow very tall, and they are known to take many years to bloom. However, this only applies if the time is calculated based on when it was first planted. If you root a branch from one of these mature cacti during bloom, the process continues. This means that being taken from the mother plant and being rooted does not affect flowering.

Note, however, that not all columnar cacti have this capability. There are some, such as the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), with branches that don’t root independently. Therefore, such species must be planted and grown from seeds. These cacti can make you wait all your life for the first flower. This is because the wait is 40 to 55 years for blooming. There are other species, such as the Peruvian apple cactus, which blooms 10 to 20 years after being planted.

Even without flowers, columnar cacti are superb for landscaping.

Conditions That Encourage Blooming

This is all about knowing what each cactus needs to foster blooming. Many of them grow better in pots with attention and care.

This care involves adequate sunlight for good growth. While requirements may vary, most cacti must get at least four hours of sunlight daily. While any time of the day can work, morning sunlight is usually preferred.

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Potted cacti must be placed in pots with drainage holes. If not, you risk rot from accumulated water. During their growing season, regular watering is required. You should only water them when the top two inches of soil are dry. Limit watering during the winter, as the winter dormancy period helps the cactus to thrive.

Fertilization is best done monthly. This should be done from the time of spring growth to the end of summer. The formula must be half-strength with high-phosphorus and low-nitrogen. Such a formula is conducive to blooming.

Summary

Cactus plants are not just the stereotypical desert dwellers that most people imagine. In fact, all cacti are flowering plants, and they can produce beautiful flowers. Of course, the right care and the right conditions are required for this.

There are four main kinds of cactus, and they have different requirements where blooming is concerned. The first is the holiday cactus, which requires cool or cold conditions for blooming. The second is the round cactus, which thrives in conditions provided by their native areas of America and Mexico. The third is the short-stem cactus, which grows in spring conditions. Finally, there is the columnar cactus, which requires care for many years before blooming.

All these cacti have their own requirements, and your meeting them rewards you with beautiful blooms.

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