The cactus, family cactaceae, is a popular and unique plant. There are more than 1700 types of cacti, or cactuses, whatever you prefer to say. Many people use the terms cacti and succulents interchangeably, but that’s not exactly right. All cactuses are succulents, but not all succulents are cactuses.
When it comes to cacti, they are mostly quite varied and distinct in appearance. Most people think that all cacti live in the hot dessert, but that’s not totally true. You can find cactuses in cooler areas, too, especially in dry areas, as they don’t require a lot of water. You can also, of course, grow them at home. To help you find out which cacti you can grow in your garden or home, we are happy to share the following information:
- Indoor cactus varieties
- Outdoor cactus varieties
Indoor Cactus Varieties
When most of us think of cacti, we think of the desert. However, many of them can do very well indoors on a windowsill or elsewhere in the home. Most indoor varieties don’t require much light, and since they don’t need a lot of water, either, they are an easy houseplant to care for.
Here are some of the indoor cacti varieties you might want to look into:
Bunny Ears Cactus
The Bunny Ears cactus is originally from Mexico, and if you see this plant, you know exactly why it has this adorable name. There are two pads on the cactus, which are in the shape of bunny ears. Like most cacti, the Bunny Ears cactus has brown prickles on it, so you have to be careful when handling it. It grows about 2 to 3 feet in height, and if given enough light, it will produce white flowers and fruit, which is purple, in the summer.
The Chin Cactus is a South American cactus. Also known as “gymnocalycium, which means “naked kalyx,” in Greek, you might notice that it doesn’t have any spines or hair on the flower buds it produces. The neat thing about the Chin Cactus is that some varieties like sun, while others prefer shade, so make sure to put it in the right place when growing it in your home.
If you know anything about cacti, you might know that the Saguaro Cactus is known for growing tall…very tall. Some of them can get up to 40 feet tall, or more! So, how can this be a good choice for an indoor plant? Well, it’s because they grow very slowly, so you can have it for years before you need to replant it outside. The Saquaro Cactus needs a lot of light, so make sure that you put it next to a window where it will get the rays of sun it requires.
Old Lady Cactus
The Old Lady Cactus is part of the mammillaria family and is a type of pincushion cactus. This plant has both spines and hairs, and it is known for a halo or purple or pink flowers, which bloom each spring. This cactus has to be watered about two times a month, and it thrives in sandy potting soil.
The Star Cactus, also called a Sand Dollar Cactus or Sea Urchin Cactus, can easily be identified by its round body, which has eight sections. It has white hair, and in the spring, a yellow flower appears. It is a small plant, too, only growing up to 6-inches in diameter.
The Easter Cactus is native to Brazil, and it blooms in the early spring, usually around Easter time. It has flowers, which are orange, white, or lavender, in color, and the spines grow on top of each other, which gives it a neat shape.
The Christmas Cactus is a cactus that blooms in winter, and it is associated with the Christmas holiday thanks to its vibrant red flowers. It is a common gift for the holidays, and it is fairly easy to care for. You need to make sure not to water it too much, as root rot can set in quickly. It can also easily adapt to areas that don’t have a lot of light, but if you want to see more flowers, light is a necessity.
The Moon Cactus is a South American plant, and it is known for its vibrant colors, including yellow, red, pink, and orange. They vary in size, but most of them are right at home on your windowsill, where they can get plenty of sun.
Outdoor Cactus Varieties
Depending on where you live, you might be able to grow cacti in your yard. If you want to do this, consider one of the following:
The Barrel Cactus has a circular, or barrel, shape, and it has ribs along the side, which produce spikes. There are a number of varieties of the Barrel Cactus including the California Barrel, Golden Barrel, Blue Barrel, Fishhook Cactus, and Colviller’s Barrel. The flowers, which are yellow or red, bloom in May or June.
Also known as the Crab Cactus, it should be no surprise that the Thanksgiving Cactus typically blooms in late November. The plant also blooms into the winter, and cooler climates are fine for this cactus…just keep in mind that it cannot survive a hard frost.
Queen of the Night Cactus
This cactus, also known as the Dutchman’s Pipe, is a Brazilian cactus that grows on trees. The flowers that it produces are large and white, and it typically only blooms at night. If you want your Queen of the Night cactus to bloom more frequently, it requires soil that is slightly acidic.
Prickly Pear Cactus
You have probably heard of the Prickly Pear, and it is a popular plant for areas that don’t get a lot of rain. You can usually grow this plant quite easily, if you are in the right environment, and you can even eat the fruit. Just keep in mind, however, that this cactus sheds its spikes, so some cleanup is going to be in order.
The Cholla Cactus is native to the Southwest region of the US, and it has sharp spines and a round stem. There are over 20 different species of this cactus, and all of them produce orange and green flowers. They don’t really need a lot of water, but they do require full sun.
Totem Pole Cactus
The Totem Pole Cactus is tall and thin, and it can grow as high as 12-feet into the air. It has a wrinkly complexion, and it can even get sunburnt, so take care to give it an area of both direct sun and shade, especially during the hottest times of the day.
Adding a cactus to your home can bring a sense of beauty and charm, and even if you live in cold climates, you can still enjoy these unique plants by growing them indoors.