Cactus is one of the most famous variety of Succulents. These plants are easy to care for and are low maintenance, though most succulents are. There are many different varieties of cactus out there. If you are planning to take care of a Cactus plant and place it in your home, you need to know the different types. In this post, we will share the different types of cactus plants.
What is a Cactus plant
Cactus is not a tree, not a flower, not a herb but rather Cactus is a plant. These types of plants thrives well in high temperature conditions and even on dry climate settings. Typically, cactus stores water on its vines that will later on be use especially during dry season. Cactus are mostly seen in desert regions.
Although Cactus can survive mostly in dry and hot settings, that does not mean that it cannot survive in cold and wet settings. Cactus is considered to be a versatile plant, this means that it can adopt and survive to both dry and wet settings. Though with wet and cold settings, you also have to take extra precautions in taking care of the cactus plants.
Cactus are beautiful plants that are often to decorate a home or placed indoors. Most of the cactus plants are small enough that could fit into small containers and allow it to grow.
Important Features of a Cactus Plant
As mentioned, a cactus plant is not a flower but rather produces beautiful flowers that blooms. Although it tends to bloom only for a very short time, it can still add to the beauty in the garden.
With most succulents, cactus plants usually stores water on its stem but not on its leaves. The stored water is used for dry season.
If you are wondering, not all cactus are spikey. In fact, Forest cactus have bristles rather than spikes.
Different Types Of Cactus Plants
Listed below are the different types of Cactus that are categorized according to: Indoor cactus, Outdoor cactus and Cold-hardy Cactus.
Types of Indoor Cactus Plants
Cactus plant or Cacti when placed indoors can add to the beauty of your home. It can survive indoor settings and requires minimum care requirements. But not all cacti plants can be placed and can survive indoors. Here is a lists of the types of Cactus plants for indoor use.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)
Christmas cactus is named as such because it typically blooms near and during Christmas season between November to January. If you want to have a unique plant inside your home during Christmas, then this cacti plant is the perfect plant. Christmas Cactus also bloom during seasons of spring and fall.
Christmas Cactus is different from other cactus specie because it is more like a forest type of cactus. It has green leaves, that blooms at least twice a year. Depending on the cactus plant, it usually blooms in different colors such as pink, red, orange, yellow, deep purple and white flowers.
Its growth rate is between 6 inches to 12 inches tall and at least 6 to 18 inches wide. Christmas cactus plants are tolerant to drought and therefore requires minimum care.
Fairy castle cactus (Acanthocereus Tetragonus)
Fairy Castle Cactus is another indoor cactus plant. It is a native to the North, Central and Northern America.
It can grow into different height in a single pot that will look like a fairy castle. The vines and spikes resembles that of a tower. If you are into fairy gardens, Fairy castle cactus can be a great addition to that garden.
Fairy Castle Cacti are slow growing variety of cactus plant though it can reach to a maximum height of 6 feet tall. It is characterized as having five sides stems that have spines on them. The limbs that resembles a turret have shades of bright green, though as the cactus age it usually turns into brown.
This type of cactus does not usually produce flowers, but when they do it usually blooms only at night.
Star cactus (Astrophytum asterias)
Star Cactus is also known by its other names such as Sea urchin cactus, Sand dollar cactus and Star Peyote. It is called sea urchin or Starfish cactus because it has concave stems that are clustered.
Star Cactus plants are good indoor plants because aside from they are low maintenance plants, these plants does not actually grow tall. Star Cactus plants only reach its maximum height of at least 6 inches tall. Aside from that, star cactus plants attract visitors because of it produces blooming flowers of white and yellow.
Golden Barrel cactus (Echinocactus Grusonii)
It is called Golden Barrel Cactus because it resembles that of a Barrel. It appears to have golden spines. It actually looks like a Pin cushion or some sort.
At an earlier age, Golden Barrel cactus is round shaped but as it matures it grows wide and becomes oval-shaped cactus. Although it does not grow tall, usually at 3 fee tall. That is it is a great indoor plant.
It is characterized with bright yellow flowers that looks like a funnel. Flowers bloom usually in the middle of summer season.
Old lady cactus (Mammillaria hahniana)
Old Lady Cactus is another Cacti variety perfect for an indoor plant. It named as such because of the white spines all through out the entire plant and also belongs to the powder puff cactus category.
Old Lady Cactus thrives well outdoors but can also survive indoors. It is ideal for beginners since it is a low maintenance cactus variety. This means that it does not require you to frequently water it, though it needs sunlight.
It is also a slow growing cactus plant that usually grows just about 4 inches tall and at least 8 inches wide. It blooms a beautifully reddish-purple flowers.
Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii)
Moon Cactus is also known in other names such as Ruby Ball cactus and Hibotan Cactus. These are a hybrid cactus variety that comes form a Grafted cactus.
You can easily spot a Moon Cactus plant because it is ball-shaped with thorns and it is usually on top of a green cactus. It also has bright colors that are very attractive to look at. Different shades of Moon Cactus are red, pink, purple, peach and yellow.
When placed indoors, it can give your home that lively feeling because of the vibrant colors of Moon Cactus plants. These are small cactus plants that usually grows at least an inch wide. Moon cactus plants have shorter lifespan as compared to other cactus variety.
African Milk Tree Cactus (Euphorbia Trigona)
If you are familiar with Poinsettia plant, African Milk tree cactus is similar to that. It is actually nearer to be a succulent than that as a cactus plant.
The stems on this cactus species are long and ribbed. At the top part of the spikes, maroon leaves tends to grow there.
It is known to be a skin irritant, make sure not to touch it or in close contact with African Milk Cactus.
Parodia Cactus (Notocactus Magnificus)
Parodia Cactus are great indoor plants because they are relatively small cactus that only reaches a maximum height of at least 4 inches tall with 6 inches in diameter.
It is easy to spot a Parodia cactus plant because of the large yellow flower that blooms on its center top. Parodia Cactus loves water and should be kept moist but during winter season it should be kept dry. It also cannot survive in extreme low temperature and frosting therefore make sure they are protected from these kind of weather conditions.
Lady Finger cactus (Mammillaria elongata)
Lady Finger Cactus is also known as Gold lace cactus simply because it appears to have small and golden yellow spines.
In a single pot or container, lady finger cactus can grow other stems (at least 5 tube-shaped stem) that is why the plant is named as such.
Its typically grows up to 6 inches tall. The small white flowers usually blooms on springtime.
Bunny ear cactus (Opuntia Microdasys)
Bunny Ear Cactus is another cactus variety. It is named as such because of resembles like that of a the ears of a Bunny. Other than that, it is also called Angel ears.
Bunny ear cactus is an ideal plant for beginners and placed indoors. It can grow up to 2 feet tall and 5 feet wide. Aside from the shape of bunny’s ears, it is easy to recognize this type of cactus plant because it does not spines but rather have Glochids which are small red dots found on the entire cactus plant. Though these are just dots, they are spiky too similar to the original cactus spines.
Feather cactus (Mammillaria plumosa)
Feather Cactus is literally shaped like small white feathers that are covering the entire plant. In Feather cactus, the feather like covering is actually protecting the cactus plant from heat coming from the sun.
Although the feather-like on Feather cactus appears to be soft and sort of fluffy, it is just actually covering the spikey spines of the cactus plant, so take extra caution when handling or touching Feather Cactus plant.
Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea Gigantea)
Saguaro Cacti is another cactus variety that is usually found in Sonoran Desert. It can be a perfect indoor plant because it is a slow growing plant, as a matter of fact it only grows 1/2 inches on the first 8 growing years.
When in the desert, Saguaro cactus is considered to be a gigantic plant because it can reach it growth height of up to 50 feet tall. Saguaro cactus can grow extremely tall because its lifespan can reach up to 200 years.
Blue columnar cactus (Pilosocereus Pachycladus)
Blue Columnar Cactus plants can grow up to 33 feet tall. It is easy to recognize a Blue columnar cactus because of its light blue green or Turquoise colored trunk.
Because of its beautiful and unique hues, these types of cactus is a great addition for your home and can be used as an indoor plant.
Keep in mind that the spikes on this type of cactus plant is a skin-irritant, so make sure not to touch it or go near it. Therefore when placed indoor, it should not be within a child’s reach.
Easter cactus (Schlumbergera Gaertneri)
Easter Cactus is similar to Christmas cactus variety, it is also a forest type cactus.
Easter Cactus thrives well in areas with a little humidity. Therefore when placed indoors, make sure a little moisture is added inside such as setting up a saucer that is water filled.
The stems with Easter cactus is similar to that of the leaves of a a succulent. Easter cactus flowers are deep pink in color with small yellow white flowers on its center.
It is a great indoor plant because it does not grow that tall, but rather wide. It can only reach up to 12 inches tall. Its width size greatly depends on the size of the pot or the container you placed the Easter cactus with.
Bishop’s cap cactus (Astrophytum Myriostigma)
Bishop’s cap cactus is named as such because it is shaped like the concave cap of Bishops of the Roman Catholic.
It can be a great indoor plant and an addition to your home. It has blue-green stems with spikes that are grey in color. Stay away from the spikes as it is known to be a skin irritant.
Bishop’s cap cactus plants cannot survive when exposed to full sun especially if it is still young, therefore it is best placed in an area with soft shade.
Balloon cactus (Notocactus magnificus)
Balloon Cacti is another types of cactus plant that is pear-shaped. It body has hues of blue and green with spines that are golden yellow in color.
It is a great indoor plant, though it is usually sold as seed than sold as a grown plant. During spring season and summer season, it usually blooms soft yellow flowers that are lovely to look at.
Types of Outdoor Cactus Plants
Most of the outdoor cacti species are very spikey and prickly and are fast growing cactus plants (in fact, some can grow really really tall).
Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia)
Prickly pear cactus is a cacti genus with different cacti species such as the Indian Fig Prickly pear and the Beavertail Prickly pear plant.
Its appearance is the same as that of Bunny ear cactus however with Prickly pear cactus, Glochids appears to be growing spines.
During spring and fall season, flowers tends to bloom on Prickly pear cactus.
Arizona barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni, the fishhook barrel cactus)
This is another Barrel category, however Arizona Barrel Cactus plant have fishhook like with long spines on the entire cactus plant.
Arizona Barrel Cactus plant appears with a stem that has ridges that is thick and leather-like.
In spring season, it typically blooms flowers that are shaped like a cup, while during summer time it blooms yellow berries.
Strawberry cactus (Mammillaria dioica, California fishhook cactus)
Strawberry Cactus stems are round-shaped that usually grows up to 4 feet tall. During the its growing process, at least 15 to 100 small stems will grow from the main steam.
During spring time and fall season, small pink flowers will bloom.
Types of Cold-hardy Cactus plants
There are other cactus species that can withstand when exposed to full sunlight and partially full sun. Cold hardy cactus plants are mostly slow growing variety, therefore can be place on indoor and outdoor settings.
Hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus engelmannii)
Another cactus species is the Hedgehog Cactus plant. These are slow growing and at the same time low lying type of cactus. It is called Hedgehog since it has spiked stems.
It typically grow in a group of clumps, and each clumps have at least 10 to 60 stems. It blooms pink flowers during spring time.
Club cholla (Grusonia clavata)
Club Cholla appears similarly as that of clustered corals. The stems are round but this time there are no sharp spines.
It requires full sunlight but its water requirement is rarely. During spring time and fall, it will bloom orange or green flowers.
Club Cholla is known to have at least 20 cactus species.
As mentioned, a cactus is not a tree nor a flower but rather a cactus is a plant. It belongs to the Cactaceae family. Although a cactus is not a tree, some of the cactus varieties can grow as tall as a tree.
There are some other types of cactus plants thrives well in low light settings however most of the cacti varieties requires at least 4 hours of bright lights. That is why cactus plants can survive indoors to be able to get full bright light naturally and or artificially.
Since there are different Cactus varieties that are different in terms of tolerance to cold or heat. There are other varieties that loves the sun and there are some that can tolerate low temperature settings.
Cold hardy cacti can tolerate well in low temperature up to maximum of -20 degrees Fahrenheit, while the non cold hardy cacti cannot tolerate well.
There are a lot of cactus varieties out there. We hope that this guide has helped you learn and understand the different types of cactus plants, but there are still a lot of things that you need to know about cactus plants because not all cactus are the same.
If you are planning to get one for yourself to add to your home décor, try from the lists mentioned above. Let us know what you think.