Cactus 101: Cactus Care & Everything Else You Need to Know About Cactus Plants!

Updated: July 20, 2024

Cactus 101: Cactus Care & Everything Else You Need to Know About Cactus Plants!

Cactus plants are popular for their low-maintenance and striking greenery, as they thrive in arid environments, requiring little water and withstanding high temperatures, making them ideal for accentuating homes and gardens without much maintenance. 

It's exciting to consider having cacti indoors, on your terrace, balcony, or in the garden. Your cactus will be gorgeous and healthy if you follow the advice below.  

Cactus plants are a type of succulent originating from dry, arid regions such as deserts.  While cactus is often considered a desert plant, it can thrive indoors if given the proper care. Here are the important things you should know about caring for your own cactus plant.  

The term "cactus" is a controversial term in the language, as it can refer to both a single plant and a group of them. While "cacti" is more commonly used in books and articles, "cactuses" is also acceptable. Language is flexible, and as long as people understand what you mean, you can use "cactus, cacti, or even cactuses" depending on your preference. The choice is up to you and what feels right to you.

All About Cacti:

Exploring the Fascinating World of Over 2000 Cactus Species 

With over 2000 unique species, cacti are fascinating and resilient plants, that have captured the imagination of plant enthusiasts worldwide. These unique succulents are known for their ability to survive in arid and desert-like conditions, making them symbols of endurance and adaptability. With their striking shapes, from tall, columnar, and hanging cactus plants to round and globular, cacti add a touch of natural beauty to any space. 

  • The most remarkable characteristic of cacti is their ability to store water in their thick, fleshy stems and leaves. This adaptation allows them to withstand long periods of drought, making them low-maintenance and perfect for busy plant lovers.
  • Cacti have spines instead of traditional leaves, which help reduce water loss and protect them from herbivores.
  • Some cacti produce stunning flowers in vibrant colors like the Easter lily cactus, while others have interesting textures and patterns on their surface.
  • They can range in size from mini cactus plants, that fit in the palm of your hand as Thimble cactus, to tall cactus plants that reach several feet in height as Saguaro cactus.
  • Cacti are also known for their slow growth, which means they can be cherished for many years as they gradually transform and develop as Chin cacti.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Type of Cactus for Your Home or Garden 

  1. Consider the size of the plant. Cactus desert plants come in all different sizes, from small varieties that can fit on your desk to large ones that will take up half of your room. Choose a size that's appropriate for the space you have available. For example, if you're making a rock garden, you should place the larger plants toward the back.
  2. Think about the type of cactus you want. There are many kinds of cacti, each with its unique shape and appearance. Do some research to find a variety that appeals to you. Planet Desert has the largest selection of cacti in the world.
  3. Consider the potting situation. Look for a cactus that comes in a self-contained pot if you don't have a lot of space. Otherwise, you'll need to find a big pot to accommodate the plant's root system.
  4. Take into account the cactus care instructions. Some varieties are more high maintenance than others and will require more attention in terms of watering and sunlight. Ensure you're prepared to care for the type of cactus you choose.

From the tall and majestic Saguaro cactus to the petite and delicate Moon cactus, we'll explore the incredible diversity that exists within the cactus family. Get ready to discover their remarkable characteristics and everything you need to know. Whether you're a seasoned cactus enthusiast or just starting your plant journey, this article will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of these fascinating desert wonders. 

Exploring the Most Popular Genus Types: A Closer Look at the Diversity of Cacti 

Cacti are classified into various genera based on their shared characteristics. Let's dive into the top 8 cactus genus types and their unique features: 


1

Opuntia

Opuntia, also known as the prickly pear cactus, is a fascinating genus with flat, paddle-shaped stems called cladodes. Its diverse species have stunning flowers in colors like yellow, orange, pink, and red. Some species like the Barbary fig produce edible prickly pears, that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Opuntia cacti are adipose-adapted plants with water-storing capabilities, making them ideal for xeriscaping. Their spines protect against potential threats, but they should be handled with care. These low-maintenance plants thrive in various climates and are suitable for both experienced and beginner gardeners. Explore Our Opuntia Collection...


2

Echinocactus

Echinocactus, also known as the barrel cactus, is a unique cacti genus with a barrel-like shape and thick, rigid spines, including the Golden Barrel cactus. They are slow-growing and long-lived, thriving in arid environments. They produce beautiful blooms in colors like yellow, pink, and red. Echinocactus prefer well-draining soil and sunlight, making them low-maintenance plants suitable for both experienced and beginners. Handling them with caution is essential due to their sharp spines. Explore Our Echinocactus Collection...


3

Mammillaria

Mammillaria cacti, native to North and Central America, are a unique genus of cacti with distinctive tubercles and bumpy surfaces as Thimble cactus. They produce colorful flowers and are compact, low-maintenance plants suitable for indoor cultivation and small spaces. With proper care, they can thrive and even produce offsets, expanding collections over time. They are versatile and resilient, making them ideal for desert beauty or cactus gardens. Explore Our Mammillaria Collection...


4

Ferocactus

Ferocactus is a genus of cacti native to North America, specifically Mexico and the southwestern United States. They have a popular Blue barrel cactus with a barrel-shaped body with spines as a defense mechanism. They also have a few plants with columnar stems. They produce beautiful flowers in various colors and thrive in full sun and well-draining soil, making them suitable for those without a green thumb. They are a striking addition to any cactus collection or garden. Explore Our Ferocactus Collection...


5

Gymnocalycium

Gymnocalycium cacti are a unique genus of cacti native to South America, specifically Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil. Like the Hibotan cactus, has smooth or slightly spiny stems, giving it a "naked" appearance. These small to medium-sized cacti have vibrant blooms in pink, purple, white, and yellow. They prefer bright but indirect sunlight and well-draining soil and are tolerant of drought but require regular watering. They can form clusters, making them ideal for limited space or visually appealing arrangements. Explore Our Gymnocalycium Collection...


6

Trichocereus

The Trichocereus genus is a popular plant family known for its large, colorful flowers and unique spines. The Golden Torch cactus, a tall, columnar cactus from the Trichocereus genus, is popular for its ornamental value, while the Bolivian Torch cactus is known for its columnar shape. These cacti offer a variety of cacti to explore and enjoy, whether you're drawn to their beautiful flowers or their unique characteristics. Explore Our Trichocereus Collection....


7

Parodia

The Parodia cactus is a popular choice among cactus enthusiasts due to its unique, eye-catching globular shapes, vibrant spines, and colorful flowers. Its low maintenance requirements make it a favorite choice for both beginners and experienced plant lovers. One popular example is the Ball Cactus, with its compact, spherical form and beautiful yellow flowers. The Parodia genus thrives with minimal care, making it a top choice for those seeking a fuss-free and resilient companion. Explore Our Parodia Collection...


8

Schlumbergera

Schlumbergera, including the Christmas Cactus or Thanksgiving Cactus, is a popular plant during the holiday season due to its unique flowering pattern. Its vibrant flowers in shades of red, pink, white, and yellow add a festive touch to homes, making it a favorite for decorations and gifts. Additionally, Schlumbergera plants are low maintenance, thrive in indoor environments, and are tolerant of lower light conditions. Explore Our Schlumbergera Collection...

If you are interested in exploring more Cactus genus types, then click here to see all our main cactus genus species available at Planet Desert.

Exploring the Diverse World of Flowering Cactus Plants 

Almost all 2000 varieties of cactus flower showcase a mesmerizing array of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them a captivating subject for exploration. Delving into the diverse world of flowering cactus plants unveils a botanical tapestry rich in beauty and uniqueness. From the vibrant blooms of the Schlumbergera to the intricate patterns of the Mammillaria flowers, each cactus species offers a distinct floral spectacle that reflects the resilience and adaptability of these desert plants. 

Remember, the blooming cactus plants require a natural habitat with warm daytime and cool nighttime temperatures of 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit. If your house temperature is warmer, consider relocating the plant to a garage or basement at night.  

Cacti need at least four to six hours of sunlight and the right amount of water for blooming. Dormancy is important for blooms because it reduces sunlight and water, allowing some cacti to thrive. 

But we do not stop there! We also want to ensure that you have all the information you need to care for these wonderful plants. Below, we have covered some essential tips on how to care for these cacti, including sunlight requirements, watering guidelines, and general maintenance. With our selection and care tips, you'll be well-equipped to nurture and enjoy your cacti collection.  

Cactus are Easy to Care for & Hard to Kill 

Cacti are like the superheroes of the plant world when it comes to low maintenance. They're incredibly easy to care for and are known for their resilience. With their ability to store water, they can tolerate dry conditions and don't require frequent watering. Just give them some sunlight, well-draining soil, and a little love every now and then, and they'll thrive! Plus, their unique and diverse shapes make them a stylish addition to any space. Below, you will learn in detail about the tips and tricks to grow them.

How to Water Your Cactus – Seasonal Care


One of the most important aspects of cactus care is watering.Cacti are the only true drought-tolerant plants. Cacti are succulents, storing water in their leaves and stems.

As a result, they don't require watering as often as other plants. You should generally only water your cactus weekly or biweekly.

When you water your cactus, ensure you're using room-temperature water. Don't use cold water because it can shock the plant and cause the roots to rot. Let the water seep slowly into the potting mix until it's evenly moistened; then empty any excess water from the saucer.

Another thing you have to note is not to use chlorine water. Chlorine should be avoided when it comes to gardening because it can wipe out helpful microorganisms found in the soil, as well as harm the roots of your plants

Treated water usually contains chlorine, which is why some may worry about the effect on their garden. Fortunately, most tap water has harmless levels of chlorine - if you can smell it though, that means there is a higher concentration than average. 

Tepid rainwater or filtered water should be used for watering, rather than tap water. This is because the minerals in tap water build up in the soil and can cause deposits on the leaves.  Minerals also disrupt the flow of essential nutrients to the plant. 

Spring

  1. Water every 1-2 weeks, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  2. Increase watering frequency if the weather is particularly warm or if the cactus is actively growing.
  3. Ensure thorough watering, allowing water to soak into the soil and drain out of the pot.
  4. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to root rot.

Summer

  1. Water every 1-2 weeks, as cacti are actively growing during this season
  2. Adjust the watering frequency based on the specific needs of your cactus and the temperature.
  3. Provide adequate drainage to prevent waterlogged soil.
  4. Consider misting the cactus or providing some shade during hot summer days.

Autumn

  1. Reduce watering frequency to every 3-4 weeks as cacti enter dormancy.
  2. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
  3. Be cautious not to overwater, as cacti require less moisture during this period.
  4. Adjust watering based on the specific needs of your cactus and the surrounding environment.

Winter

  1. Water sparingly, only when the soil is completely dry.
  2. Water every 4-6 weeks or longer, as cacti are in a rest period during winter.
  3. Protect cacti from cold drafts and ensure they receive adequate sunlight.
  4. Avoid watering if the cactus is in a cold environment or if there is a risk of frost.

Remember, the watering frequency of forest or jungle cacti like Dancing Bones cactus is higher than that of desert ones like Joseph's Coat Cactus or Opuntia Rufida Minima, as forest cacti prefer moist roots, unlike desert cacti.

RELATED ARTICLE
If you want to learn more about watering your cactus plants, you can read our detailed article about Cactus Watering – Everything you need to know!

How Much Sunlight Does a Cactus Need? 

When growing cacti indoors, they generally need bright, indirect sunlight. Place them near a window where they can receive about 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If you don't have a sunny spot, you can use artificial grow lights to provide the necessary light. 

If your cactus is placed in a spot that doesn't get enough light, it will stretch and become leggy. This is known as "etiolation."  To avoid etiolation, place your cactus near a south- or west-facing window. If you don't have a spot like this in your home, you can also use grow lights to provide the plant with the light it needs. 

When growing cactus plants outdoors, they typically thrive in full sunlight. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day to grow and maintain their health. Make sure to choose a sunny spot in your garden or patio where they can soak up the sun. 

Remember, cacti are adapted to arid environments, so they can tolerate intense sunlight. However, be cautious of extreme heat during the hottest part of the day, as it can cause sunburn or heat stress. Providing some shade during the hottest hours can help protect your outdoor cacti. 

The Right Kind of Cactus Soil Is Highly Important for Optimal Growth 

Make sure you are aware of the different types of cactus species and the kinds of conditions they require to grow before you decide to buy one. You should purchase a potting mix suitable for cactus. The majority of garden centers offer the right kinds of cactus mix. You may either purchase a specialized cactus potting mix locally or create your own mixture by adding some sand and grit to the compost portion of the soil to make it grainy and less tightly compacted. 


Cacti thrive in aerated, well-draining, light soil. The ideal cactus soil mixture will retain exactly the right amount of moisture to feed the plant without overdoing it.

The ideal potting soil combination is one that dries up rapidly after watering. The soil's moisture content is quickly absorbed by cacti.

Therefore, any excess moisture will start to result in dampness issues and produce mildew, fungus, or rot.

Planet Desert offers specially formulated cactus soil, which has been tested for years.

Our blend includes an organic substrate with mycorrhizae to help develop the root system.

We also added the number of inorganic media needed to help with adequate drainage and ventilation. Additionally, our cactus soil also has a nutrient-rich mineral system perfect for enriching desert plants. 

When it comes to fertilizing cacti, it's important to take a gentle and cautious approach. Cacti don't require a lot of fertilizer, so it's best to use less. Once a year, in the actively growing season, during the spring, you can fertilize your cacti with balanced (5-10-5) NPK fertilizers. Dilute the fertilizer to half or quarter strength and apply it to moist soil.

Remember to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package and avoid overfertilizing, as it can harm your cactus. In the dormant season, typically autumn and winter, it's best to avoid fertilizing altogether. Cacti are pretty resilient, so a light touch with fertilizing will help keep them healthy and happy! 

Benefits of Cactus Soil:

  1. Dries out more frequently than general-purpose, peat-based mixes.
  2. Well, suited for low-light growing conditions & high humidity.
  3. Less challenging to overwater crops.
  4. Reduces incidence of water-related problems (root diseases, algae, and fungus gnats)
RELATED ARTICLE
If you want to learn more about the ideal soil for your cactus plants, you can read our detailed article about Cactus Soil – The Ultimate Guide!

Choosing the Perfect Cactus - Our Top 15 Most Popular Types of Cacti 

Each cactus has its own unique characteristics and care requirements, so it's essential to consider factors like sunlight, water, and temperature when choosing the perfect cactus for your space. If you're new to the world of cacti and don't know where to start, we've got you covered with our curated list of the most sought-after cacti varieties. 

1

Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8,9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 60 ft. Tall

The saguaro cactus is one of the most popular cacti out there, especially in the American Southwest. Saguaros can live up to 150-200 years old under optimal growing conditions. This magnificent cactus can grow to be incredibly tall, sometimes reaching up to 60 feet tall. What makes it even more fascinating are its branching arms that can resemble the arms of a person reaching out for a hug. The saguaro cactus is known for its ability to survive in harsh desert conditions, with its accordion-like pleats allowing it to expand and store water during dry spells. It's truly a symbol of resilience and adaptability. Plus, it's home to various desert creatures, like birds and bats, who rely on its nectar and fruits for survival. If you ever get the chance to see a saguaro cactus up close, it's definitely a sight you won't forget. Learn more...

2

Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Mid-Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 4 ft. tall, 3 ft. wide

The golden barrel cactus is a real gem in the cactus world! It's super popular among plant enthusiasts for a few reasons. First off, its vibrant golden spines and round shape make it a stunning addition to any collection. It's like having a little ball of sunshine in your home or garden! Another reason for its popularity is its importance as a low-maintenance plant. The golden barrel cactus is known for its ability to thrive in dry conditions and can go for long periods without water. So, if you forget to water it every now and then, no worries! It's a tough little cactus that can handle a little neglect. Plus, its unique feature of growing in clusters gives it a visually striking appearance. So, if you're looking for a beautiful, low-maintenance plant that's hard to kill, the golden barrel cactus is definitely a top choiceLearn more...

3

Holiday Cactus 'Schlumbergera Spp.'

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 10,11,12
  • Blooming Period: Fall, Winter (Depending on the species)
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 12 in. tall, 24 in. Wide

The holiday cacti are indeed more popular during the holiday season. There are three main types: the Thanksgiving cactus, the Christmas cactus, and the Easter cactus. The Thanksgiving cactus blooms around Thanksgiving with vibrant colors like pink, red, and purple. The Christmas cactus blooms in December, and its flowers are usually white, pink, or red. Lastly, the Easter cactus blooms around Easter with lovely pastel-colored flowers. They all add a festive touch to our homes during those special times of the year. Now, here's where things get interesting. The Christmas cactus is often mistakenly sold as a Thanksgiving cactus or even an Easter cactus. The confusion arises because these cacti belong to the same family and have similar appearances. However, the Christmas cactus typically blooms a bit later in the year, closer to Christmas, hence the name. Learn more...

RELATED ARTICLE
If you want to learn more about these holiday cacti, you can read our detailed article about Holiday Cactus - Christmas Cactus Vs. Thanksgiving Cactus Vs. Easter Cactus - What's the Difference?

4

Bunny Ear Cactus 'Opuntia microdasys'

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Spring, Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 3 ft. tall, 6 ft. Wide

The bunny ear cactus is an adorable and unique cactus that is sure to catch your attention. This cactus gets its name from its distinctive appearance, with flattened pads that resemble the ears of a bunny rabbit. The pads are covered in tiny spines, which can range in color from yellow to white. These spines give the cactus a fuzzy and soft appearance, almost like a plush toy. The bunny ear cactus is native to Mexico and is loved by plant enthusiasts for its compact size and easy care. It's a great choice for those who want a low-maintenance plant with a touch of whimsy. Just be careful when handling this cactus, as those spines can be a bit prickly. Learn more...

5

Silver Torch Cactus (Cleistocactus strausii)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 10 ft. tall

The Silver Torch Cactus is named for its silver-gray spines and unique torch-like appearance. This cactus can grow tall, reaching heights of up to 10 feet, making it an impressive focal point in any garden or landscape. It is highly drought-tolerant, meaning it can survive with minimal water. This makes it an excellent choice for those who live in arid or dry regions, as well as for those who prefer low-maintenance plants. Learn more...

If you're interested in purchasing the Silver Torch Cactus in its cluster form, you can check here at Planet Desert.

6

Spiral Cactus Plant (Cereus forbesii 'spiralis)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Early Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 16 ft. Tall

The Spiral Cactus is a fascinating and visually appealing cactus that gets its name from its unique spiral growth pattern. Native to South America and is known for its striking appearance and low maintenance requirements, which make it a popular choice among cactus enthusiasts. What makes this cactus truly special is its distinctive spiral arrangement of ridges along the stems. These ridges give the cactus a mesmerizing and captivating look, making it a standout addition to any cactus collection or garden. It is drought-tolerant and can go for extended periods without water, making it suitable for those who may forget to water their plants regularly. Learn more...

7

Mexican Fence Post Cactus (Pachycereus marginatus)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: Up to 15 ft. tall

The Mexican fence post cactus is quite popular in rock gardens and tropical landscapes and gets its name from its resemblance to a fence post or the pipes of a musical organ. It features tall, columnar stems that resemble fence posts, hence the name. The Mexican fence post cactus is known for being quite resilient and adaptable. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and doesn't require frequent watering. This makes it a great choice for those who may not have a green thumb or prefer low-maintenance plants. Learn more...

8

Cholla Cactus - Cylindropuntia cholla

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8,9,10
  • Blooming Period: Spring, Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: Up to 15 ft. tall

The cholla cactus, also known as the jumping cholla, is quite popular for its unique appearance and low-maintenance nature. The Cholla cactus is known for its segmented stems covered in spines, which give it a distinctive and somewhat "spikey" look. It can grow to be quite tall and can add a striking element to any desert landscape or garden. One of the reasons why it is popular is because it requires minimal maintenance. It's a tough plant that can tolerate drought conditions and doesn't need frequent watering. It prefers well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight, so finding a sunny spot for it should be easy. It's important to be cautious when handling the Cholla cactus due to its spines, as they can easily detach and stick to your skin or clothing. But with proper care and attention, it can be a beautiful addition to any arid or xeriscape garden. Learn more...

9

Pencil Cactus - Euphorbia tirucalli 'Firesticks'

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Early Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 30 ft. tall, 10 ft. wide

The pencil cactus is commonly referred to as "Firesticks" due to its vibrant red and orange coloration, resembling burning flames. It has thin, pencil-like branches that grow upright, giving it a unique and striking appearance. The pencil cactus has gained popularity among cactus enthusiasts and is often included in the top 10 cactus lists because of its eye-catching beauty and low maintenance requirements. It's a hardy plant that can tolerate a variety of conditions, including drought and bright sunlight. Plus, these sticks on fire require minimal watering and can thrive in well-draining soil. Learn more...

10

Old Man Cactus 'Cephalocereus senilis'

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Spring, Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 20 ft. tall

The old man cactus is a charming and distinctive cactus with a unique appearance resembling the fluffy white beard of an old man, characterized by its long, shaggy spines. The old man cactus has become quite popular among cactus enthusiasts because of its whimsical and playful appearance. It adds a touch of character and personality to any collection or indoor space. Additionally, the old man cactus is relatively low maintenance, making it a great choice for plant lovers of all experience levels. It thrives in well-draining soil and requires minimal watering, making it a resilient and easy-to-care-for cactus. Learn more...

11

Brazilian Blue Cactus (Pilosocereus azureus)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 12 ft. Tall, 4 ft. wide

The Pilosocereus azureus, also known as the Blue Columnar Cactus, is known for its unique blue-green color, which gives it a captivating and eye-catching appearance. Its columnar shape and tall stature make it a standout in any garden or collection. This cactus can grow up to 12 feet tall, adding a dramatic touch to any landscape. It's not commonly found in cultivation, making it a prized addition to cactus enthusiasts' collections. Its vibrant blue color and impressive size make it a sought-after species for collectors and gardeners alike. Learn more...

12

San Pedro Cactus 'Echinopsis pachanoi'

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 8,9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: Up to 20 ft. tall

The San Pedro cactus is known for its tall and columnar growth, with stems that can reach heights of up to 20 feet or more. These stems have a beautiful green color and are covered in small spines. The tall and slender stems of the San Pedro cactus create an impressive focal point in any garden or landscape. The cactus also produces stunning white flowers that bloom at night, emitting a sweet fragrance. Its vibrant green color adds a touch of freshness and natural beauty to the surroundings. It is a hardy and resilient plant that can tolerate both drought and colder temperatures. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking to incorporate low-maintenance and drought-tolerant plants into their outdoor spaces. Learn more...

13

Blue Torch Cactus (Pilosocereus pachycladus)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Late Spring, Early Summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: Up to 33 ft. Tall, 4 ft. wide

This blue torch cactus has slender, bluish-green stems that grow upright, resembling torches reaching for the sky. The blue torch cactus can grow quite tall, often reaching heights of 33 feet. Its stems are covered in clusters of sharp spines, which add to its striking visual appeal. Its tall and columnar growth habit makes it an excellent choice for vertical accents or as a centerpiece in rock gardens. The blue torch cactus is highly adaptable and can tolerate drought and high temperatures. This makes it a resilient and low-maintenance plant for those who want to create a desert-themed or xeriscape garden. Learn more...

14

Totem Pole Cactus ('Lophocereus schottii 'monstrosus')

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Spring
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: 8 ft. tall, 4 ft. wide (indoors) and 15 ft. tall and wide (outdoors)

The Totem Pole cactus is often sought after for rock gardens and xeriscaping. It is named after its unique columnar shape, which resembles a totem pole. This cactus is characterized by its thick, ribbed stems that can grow up to 8 feet tall. The stems have a greenish-blue color and are covered in sharp spines, which serve as a defense mechanism against predators. It is well-suited for dry and arid climates, as it is highly drought-tolerant. This means that it can thrive with minimal water requirements, making it an excellent choice for water-wise landscaping. Learn more...

15

Blue Myrtle Cactus (Myrtillocactus geometrizans)

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keypoints:

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 9,10,11
  • Blooming Period: Mid spring, summer
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun – Partial shade
  • Mature Size:: Up to 20 ft. tall

The Blue Myrtle Cactus is highly sought after for its striking blue-green color and interesting growth pattern. It is a hardy and drought-tolerant plant, making it perfect for those who may not have a green thumb or prefer a low-maintenance garden. This cactus can withstand long periods without water and thrives in dry and arid conditions. The Blue Myrtle Cactus has a columnar growth habit, with multiple stems that can grow up to 20 feet tall in their natural habitat. However, when grown as a houseplant or in a container, they tend to stay more compact. Learn more...

Explore over 500 varieties of cactus here at Planet Desert. With our wide selection, you're sure to find the perfect plant for your home or garden.

Finding the Ideal Spot: Temperature Tips for Thriving Cacti 

For indoor plants, the temperature hardiness zone is less of a concern since they are protected from extreme weather conditions. Most common houseplants can thrive in a temperature range of 60-75°F. However, it's important to avoid placing them near drafts or heating/cooling vents, as sudden temperature changes can stress the plants. As for humidity, many indoor plants appreciate higher humidity levels. You can increase humidity by placing a tray of water near the plants or using a humidifier. 

When growing outdoors, temperature hardiness zones become more important. Hardiness zones are determined by the average minimum winter temperatures in a specific region. They help you choose plants that can withstand the cold temperatures in your area. For example, if you live in zone 5, you'll want to select plants that are hardy to zone 5 or lower. This ensures that they can survive the winter without damage. To make things easier for you, we at Planet Desert described all of our cacti and succulents with accurate temperature and hardiness zones. 

In terms of humidity, outdoor plants have varying preferences. Some plants, like tropical species, thrive in higher humidity environments. Others, such as desert plants, prefer drier conditions. It's essential to research the specific humidity requirements of the plants you choose to ensure their optimal growth. 

How to Repot Your Flowering Cactus Plants

If your cactus is starting to outgrow its pot, you'll need to repot it into a larger container. Use a pot that's only 2-3 inches wider than the current one; any bigger and the roots won't have enough space to spread out. 

  1. To repot your cactus, remove it from its current pot to place it in the new one. Gently remove it by grabbing around the base of the plant and pulling the pot down.
  2. Then, backfill the pot with fresh soil mix. Planet Desert creates a potting mix specially formulated for the health of cactus plants, with
  3. Place your cactus in the new pot and fill it with more cactus mix, making sure not to compact the roots. You will “build up” the roots by holding the plant in place and placing soil around the roots without crushing them.
  4. Water your cactus, and then allow the soil to dry completely before watering it again. 

Medicinal & Culinary Uses of Cactus 

Cactus has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, such as digestive issues, inflammation, and skin conditions. In addition to its medicinal properties, cactus is also a popular ingredient in culinary dishes, known for its unique texture and flavor profile.

1. Medicinal uses of cacti: 

Aloe Vera

The gel from Aloe Vera leaves is used to soothe skin irritations, burns, and cuts.

Prickly Pear Cactus

The pads of the prickly pear, helps to maintain cholesterol and blood sugar.

Cholla Cactus

The cholla cactus has been used to treat inflammation and pain

2. Culinary uses of cacti:

Prickly Pear Cactus

The fruits, called prickly pears, can be enjoyed raw or used in various dishes.

Dragon Fruit or Pitaya

Commonly consumed fresh, incorporated into fruit salads, or smoothies.

Aloe Vera

The gel is used in culinary applications like smoothies, juices, or desserts.

Note: Please consult with a healthcare expert before using cacti for medicinal purposes or incorporating them into your culinary adventures! 

Tips for Overwintering Your Cactus 

Overwintering cacti is an important consideration, especially if you live in a region with cold winters. Cacti are typically native to arid and desert environments, so they are not naturally adapted to withstand freezing temperatures. Here are a few tips for overwintering your cactus: 

  1. Bring them indoors: If you have potted cacti, it's best to bring them indoors before the first frost. Find a bright and cool location, such as a south-facing window or a room with plenty of natural light. Keep in mind that cacti still need some dormant period during winter, so avoid placing them in a warm and constantly heated room.
  2. Reduce watering: During winter, cacti enter a period of dormancy and require less water. Reduce the frequency of watering and only water when the soil is completely dry. Overwatering during winter can lead to root rot, so it's crucial to be cautious.
  3. Provide proper lighting: Cacti still need adequate light even during winter. Make sure they receive at least 4-6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day. If natural light is limited, you can supplement with a grow light to ensure they get the necessary light energy.

Remember, cacti have different temperature and humidity preferences depending on their species. It's essential to research the specific requirements of your cactus to provide the best care during the winter months. 

Growing Your Own Desert Beauties: The Art of Cactus Propagation 

If your cactus produces offshoots (or pups), they can be used to propagate other plants. Pups typically form at the base of the plant, sharing nutrients and water from the mother plant, while others form along the stem or pads. Harvesting and propagating pups improves the mother plant's health while also allowing you to replicate it. 

  1. Identify the pups: Look for small offsets or baby cacti growing at the base of the parent plant.
  2. Prepare the tools: Get a clean, sharp knife or shears for separating the pups.
  3. Separate the pups: Carefully cut or gently twist the pup away from the parent plant, ensuring it has some roots attached.
  4. Allow the pups to callus: Place the separated pups in a dry, shaded area for a few days until the cut ends form calluses.
  5. Prepare the potting mix: Use a well-draining cactus or succulent soil mix.
  6. Plant the pups: Gently place the callused ends of the pups into the soil, ensuring they stand upright.
  1. Provide proper care: Place the newly planted pups in a bright, indirect light location and water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
  2. Monitor growth: Keep an eye on the pups and make sure they are establishing roots and growing.
  3. Gradually increase sunlight: Once the pups have rooted and started growing, gradually expose them to more sunlight.
  4. Enjoy your new cacti: Once the pups have grown into healthy plants, you can proudly display them in your home or garden!

How to Keep Your Cactus Away from Pests 


  • You can opt to use neem oil to control pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. These solutions should be applied every 7-10 days until the problem is under control.
  • Neem oil solution can be applied to the cactus either for prevention or treatment by using three methods: direct spraying, soil drenching, and deep soaking.
  • Always test a small portion of the cacti before using the solution on the whole plant to check if it can cause damage.
  • The mixture should only contain 0.5 to 1% of crude neem oil to prevent the burning effect on the plant caused by too much azadirachtin.
  • However, if you use a refined neem oil (lesser azadirachtin content), you can mix up to a 2% solution (6 tbsp neem oil) to get the same effect.
  • Another helpful tip to prevent pests is, it's essential to quarantine new plants before you add them to your collection. This will help prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Place new plants in a separate room or area for at least 2-3 weeks before giving them the all-clear.

Avoiding Common Problems: Caring for Your Cacti 

  1. Overwatering: Cacti are adapted to dry conditions, so it's important to avoid overwatering. Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering and be cautious during the dormant season.
  2. Poor Drainage: Cacti need well-drained soil to prevent root rot. Make sure to use a mix specifically formulated for cacti or add perlite or sand to improve drainage.
  3. Lack of Sunlight: Cacti love sunlight! Make sure they receive enough bright, indirect, or direct sunlight depending on the species. Insufficient light can cause them to become weak and leggy.
  4. Incorrect Pot Size: Choosing the right pot size is important. Cacti prefer snug pots with good drainage. A pot that is too large can retain excess moisture, leading to root rot.
  5. Overfertilizing: Cacti don't require a lot of fertilizer. Avoid overfertilizing, as it can cause damage. Stick to a specialized cactus or succulent fertilizer and follow the instructions.

Where to Buy a Cactus?

When it comes to buying Cactus, you can check out local nurseries or garden centers in your area that specialize in cacti. Look no further than Planet Desert if you're looking for the best online retailer to purchase cacti for sale and have them delivered straight to your home!  

As a cactus specialist, we take pride in providing a wide variety of cacti. Planet Desert is the place that cactus lovers go to when they want the best collection and customer service around. So why hold off? Prepare to expand your collection with some gorgeous cacti by continuing to explore Planet Desert! 

Final Thoughts 

Overall, caring for cacti can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. With their unique shapes and low-maintenance nature, they make great additions to any home or office. Remember to provide them with plenty of sunlight, and well-draining soil, and avoid overwatering. By following the above simple tips, you can create a thriving cactus collection that will bring beauty and a touch of desert charm to your space. So go ahead, embrace the prickly love, and let your green thumb shine with these resilient and fascinating cactus plants! 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • How long does an indoor cactus live?

    The lifespan of an indoor cactus plant can vary greatly depending on the species and care it receives. Proper watering, sunlight, and soil conditions are key factors in ensuring a healthy and long-lasting indoor cactus. Indoor cactus plants typically last ten years, with delicate species lasting a few months, and some can live up to 300 years outdoors in their natural habitat.

  • What makes a cactus unique from other plants?

    Cacti are unique from other plants in several ways! Here are a few key characteristics that make cacti stand out:

    1. Succulent Adaptations: Cacti have thick, fleshy stems that store water, allowing them to survive in arid environments with limited rainfall. This adaptation helps them withstand long periods of drought.
    2. Spines instead of Leaves: Unlike most plants, cacti have modified leaves called spines. These spines serve multiple purposes, including reducing water loss by providing shade and protecting the cactus from herbivores.
    3. Unique Shapes and Sizes: Cacti come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. Some have tall, columnar forms, while others have low, sprawling growth habits. These unique shapes help them maximize water storage and minimize exposure to the intense desert sun.
    4. Aeroles: Cacti have areoles, cushion-like structures with trichomes, which are clusters of small bumps that allow for the growth of spines, flowers, branches, and leaves.

    Overall, cacti have evolved remarkable adaptations to survive in harsh desert environments, making them truly unique and fascinating plants!

  • How do you take care of your cactus plants?
    1. Place your cactus in a bright spot with plenty of sunlight, preferably near a window.
    2. Water your cactus sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
    3. Use a well-draining cactus to ensure proper drainage.
    4. Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating at the bottom. Repot your cactus only when necessary.
    5. Most cacti prefer warm temperatures, around 65-85°F. Protect them from extreme cold or heat.
    6. Cacti thrive in low-humidity environments, so no need to worry about misting or extra humidity.
    7. Feed your cactus with a balanced (5-10-5), diluted cactus fertilizer once a year in the spring, during the growing season.
    8. Be careful with those spines! Use gloves or a folded towel when handling spiky cacti to avoid getting pricked.
    9. Remove dead or damaged parts of the cactus with clean, sharp pruning shears.
    10. Keep an eye out for signs of pests or diseases, such as mealybugs or rot. Take action promptly if you notice any issues.
  • What does a cactus symbolize?

    Cacti symbolize various things across different cultures and contexts. Here are a few common symbolic meanings associated with cacti:

    1. Resilience: Cacti are often seen as symbols of resilience and endurance due to their ability to thrive in harsh desert conditions. They can withstand drought, extreme temperatures, and other challenging environments, serving as a reminder to stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity.
    2. Protection: The spines of cacti can represent protection. Just as cacti have evolved spines to defend themselves against threats, they can symbolize the need to protect oneself and establish boundaries in life.
    3. Adaptability: Cacti's ability to adapt to arid environments and store water is often seen as a symbol of adaptability and resourcefulness. They remind us to be flexible and find ways to thrive in different situations.
    4. Endurance: Cacti's ability to survive for long periods without water can symbolize endurance and patience. They teach us the value of perseverance and the importance of staying strong during difficult times.
    5. Uniqueness: The distinctive appearance of cacti, with their various shapes and sizes, can symbolize individuality and uniqueness. They encourage us to embrace our own unique qualities and celebrate our differences.

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