Cacti are a type of succulent that can make a very interesting addition to your indoor garden. Their unique areoles, spines, and ridges create intriguing atmospheres. Rather than delicate stems and leaves, they have the thick, fleshy plant material common to succulents. This plump flesh allows them to be very drought resistant because they are able to store plenty of water within it. Cacti are one of the few types of plants that are happiest when you forget to water them.
A room filled with multiple species of cacti can take on an exotic, desert kind of feel. There are over 1700 species of cacti that come in many different shapes, sizes, and colours, which means there are plenty of options to choose from to suit any type of decor. Some have thick, sharp needle-like spines and others have so many little hair-like spines they look like they’re covered in fur. Many cacti even produce flowers and fruit when cared for properly.
Angel Wings Cactus (Opuntia albispina)
The angel wings cactus is a native of Mexico and is a member of the prickly pear family. This cactus grows as a short, thick shrub with clusters of small pads. On these pads they grow dense clusters of small white hairs and when given enough sun they will blossom with pale yellow flowers followed by red fruits. The angel wings cactus may grow up to 5 feet wide if given the space but usually won’t grow more than 2 feet tall.
Barbary Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica)
The barbary fig is a variety of prickly pear cactus that is native to Mexico and is widely grown for commercial uses. It grows green pads that are covered in bristly spines. It may grow up to 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide if provided with enough space but it can be kept as a houseplant if restricted to a small yet comfortably sized container. Yellow and orange flowers bloom on the tips of these pads, later producing edible red fruits.
Barbed Sea Urchin Cactus (Echinopsis ancistrophora)
The barbed sea urchin cactus is native to Argentina and Bolivia. It grows as a small flattened or spherical ball and will form large clumps when left to grow and propagate over time. They have small, yellowish radial spines that resemble spider legs. These cacti are easy to grow and they flower very willingly. When in bloom, they produce very large flowers of white, yellow, orange, or red.
Bishop's Cap Cactus (Astrophytum myriostigma)
The bishop’s cap cactus is native to Mexico and grows in a spherical shape with deep ridges, giving it a kind of star shape. As it matures, it may elongate and grow into more of a columnar shape. The bishop’s cap is spineless but grows tiny white hair-like scales which protect it from the sun. They can grow up to 3 feet tall and when they bloom they produce glossy yellow flowers followed by hairy, greenish fruits.
Blue Myrtle Cactus (Myrtillocactus geometrizans)
The blue myrtle cactus, native to Mexico and Guatemala, grows in a candelabra-like style with its many bluish-grey stems growing tightly together. If it has grown mature enough, it may produce white flowers followed by dark purple in the spring. In the wild it may grow up to 15 feet tall but its growth can be controlled in an indoor garden by keeping it in a smaller container.
Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)
The bunny ears cactus is native to Mexico and is closely related to the angel wings cactus. This cactus often grows two pads that look very much like bunny ears, hence the name. They are covered in small, whitish brown hairs that can be quite prickly to the touch, so be sure to handle these guys with care. In the summer they produce yellow flowers followed by purple fruits if they’ve been provided with ample sunlight throughout the season.
Chin Cactus (Gymnocalycium baldianum)
The chin cactus, also known as the spider-cactus or dwarf chin cactus, is an Argentina native. These cacti stay quite small, usually not growing more than 6 inches tall. It grows in a spherical shape with thick, vertical ribs and produces curved, bristle-like spines which are somewhat reminiscent of spider legs. It produces large pink or red flowers followed by green fruits.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera x buckleyi)
The Christmas cactus blooms usually right around Christmas time, hence its festive name. This cactus grows its stems upward at first and they later droop down over the edges of the pot as they grow longer. It does not have any spines or true leaves but the stems grow as flat, leaf-like segments in long, trailing tendrils. When it’s time for these guys to bloom, they produce trumpet shaped flowers that may be pink or red but could be seen as a variety of different colors in the many different cultivars of this plant.
Easter Cactus (Hatiora gaertneri)
The Easter cactus, or whitsun cactus, is a native of Brazil. Their flattened, segmented stems grow very similar to the Christmas cactus and they too begin to droop and trail and they grow longer. The flowers of this cacti are often a deep red and open up into a funnel shape when they bloom in the late winter or early spring.
Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)
The golden barrel cactus, also known as the golden ball or mother-in-law’s cushion, is native to Mexico. They grow as a large, spherical globe and may reach up to 5 feet high in the wild. They produce many long, straight yellow spines that give the cactus a bit of a golden glow. They love sun and require only very small amounts of water in order to thrive.
Golden Rat Tail (Cleistocactus winteri)
The golden rat tail gets its name from its long, furry looking stems which grow in large mounds. These long, thin stems may grow up to 40 inches long but only about 1 inch wide. They’re covered in bristly yellow spines that give the cactus it’s furry golden appearance. The golden rat tail will freely flower in the spring and summer, producing orange or pink flowers that grow up to 2 inches wide.
Golden Torch (Echinopsis spachiana)
The golden torch, also known as the torch cactus or golden column, is native to South America. It grows in a columnar shape and may grow up to 7 feet high with the branch thickness reaching only about 2 inches in diameter. These tall, thin cacti can produce large, white flowers that may grow up to 6 inches wide and will bloom only at night.
Kingcup cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)
The kingcup cactus, also known as caretcup and Mojave mound cactus, is a type of hedgehog cactus native to Mexico and the United States. This cactus grows in dense clumps with many cylindrical stems that often are covered in long, bristly spines. When in bloom, they produce stunning red and orangish-red flowers that grow up to 3-4 inches wide.
Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii)
The moon cactus is a very interesting and unique type of cactus. The cacti are developed as mutants that produce absolutely no chlorophyll, thereby causing their stems to show unusual shades of pigmentation, such as red, pink, yellow, and orange. Because they produce no chlorophyll, these cacti must be grafted onto another cactus that does produce chlorophyll in order to be able to photosynthesize and survive. They produce small, pink flowers in late spring to early summer.
Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana)
The old lady cactus is a native of Mexico and it gets its name from the long, furry white hairs it produces. These cacti are an adorable type of pincushion cactus that grows in small clusters of spherical globes. When in bloom, they produce small pink flowers that grow in a circular pattern around the top of the cactus, creating the appearance of a crown or a halo atop a head.
Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis)
Native to eastern Mexico, the old man cactus grows a similar type of fuzzy white hair to the old lady cactus, which can help to protect this cactus from the sun. The thin hair-like spines on the old man cactus cactus can grow quite long, giving the appearance of a head of billowy white hair. The population of these cacti are diminishing in the wild but thanks to their popularity as houseplants and their widespread commercial cultivation, the wild populations are under less strain. When these cacti are in bloom they produce thick pink flowers and may, on rare occasions, produce fruit.
Rat Tail Cactus (Aporocactus flagelliformis)
The rat tail cactus, similar to the golden rat tail cactus, produces long, thick stems that may grow up to 4 feet long. They produce gorgeous magenta flowers which have traditionally been used in medicines for heart problems. The cacti are fast growing and make an excellent choice for any hanging baskets or high ledge.
Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)
The saguaro cactus can grow up to 40 feet tall but that doesn’t mean it can’t still make an excellent houseplant. Their cylindrical bodies and branching stems give them the “classic” cactus look. They are very slow growing so they will stay at a manageable size indoors for a very long time. They produce beautiful white flowers in the spring and summer but you may not see these on your indoor plants because they often won’t flower until they’re about 30-40 years old.
Star Cactus (Astrophytum asteria)
The star cactus, also known as the sea urchin cactus or sand dollar cactus, is native to Mexico and the southern United States. They will only grow to be about 2 inches high and 6 inches wide, making them very suitable for houseplants. Their small, rounded body is segmented into 7-10 ribs that feature furry areoles down the middle of each rib. Large red or yellow flowers may bloom from this cactus in the spring and green or pink fruits may follow.
Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)
The queen of the night, also known as the dutchman’s pipe cactus, is a native to Mexico and regions of Central and South America. The queen of the night gets its name from its large, elusive white flowers that will only bloom on rare occasions and only at night, usually wilting before sunrise. Using slightly acidic soil and providing it with plenty of bright, indirect light will encourage this cacti to produce its amazing flowers.
Cacti are an incredibly diverse and beautiful type of plant. They can look so intimidating with their sharp spines or so delicate when in bloom with their gorgeous desert flowers. Some types can fit on a tiny windowsill while others can grow up to 60 feet high. A room or garden with multiple different species of varying heights and colors can create a truly stunning visual display.