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How To Plant, Grow, And Care For Cactus

How To Plant, Grow, And Care For Cactus

A cactus is an incredibly popular feature in many homes, yards, and gardens. This plant is incredibly sturdy and resilient through extreme weather conditions. There are endless varieties of cactus to choose from. But, just how many varieties of cactus are there? And what are potted cactus varieties? 


There are plenty of questions surrounding cacti and how to give them the best care possible. However, try not to overcomplicate things. Cacti are a very simple plant to care for, and they take no effort at all in growing. They like full sun or partial shade and don’t need much moisture or water (drought-tolerant), making cactus plants a great houseplant.

 All You Need To Know About Cacti 

There is so much to learn about cacti. Let’s start with the basics so you have a good foundation about this special plant before you take one home and start to care for it. 

Within the plant family of the cactus are several “genuses.” This breaks the varieties of cactus into several thousand varieties. Cacti can be categorized as true desert dwellers, or they can live in more temperate conditions, similar to succulent plants. There are many factors that place a cactus into the specific genus that it is categorized into. 

Some of the more common genuses a cactus can belong to are:

  • Genus ferocactus
  • Genus epiphyllum
  • Genus oreocereus
  • Genus peniocereus
  • Genus stenocereus
  • Genus echinocereus
  • Genus mammillaria
  • Genus opuntia

The varieties of cactus go far beyond what you can probably imagine, considering that types of cacti number into the thousands.

A fact to remember about cacti is that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. There are many succulents that are actually mistaken for cacti due to a variety of physical features, including colors of rosettes (pink and orange) and the diameter of each.  

However, just because a succulent has spines, has a hard exterior, or appears particularly swollen, does not mean that the succulent is a cactus. There are several features that make a cactus unique.

One of the most common ways of identifying a cactus is the flowers it blooms. Additionally, cacti contain areoles. From this circular shape on the flesh, small needles can emerge, which give a prick to your finger if you are not careful. Not every cactus needs to prick you in order to be considered a cactus, however, it is a commonly found characteristic.

Members of the cactus family can be found all over the world. They can grow naturally, but they can also be members of your family, in your gardens, or in your homes. Unfortunately, some wild-growing cacti are considered invasive plants depending on the part of the world they are located in.

Native cacti can be found in various places and a certain type of landscape, including:

  • Southern Canada
  • Parts of South America (such as Argentina, Peru, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia)
  • Central Mexico
  • Asia
  • Brazil
  • Africa
  • Madagascar
  • Southern Europe
  • All across the United States from Arizona deserts to the east coast in Massachusetts, to the most southern parts of Florida

Cacti have quite a presence all over the world! 

Many cactus species contribute to the efforts of our pollinators. This is due to the flowers they produce. Therefore, cacti can be vital for the environment.

 How Many Types of Cactus Are There? 

The simple answer to this is thousands!

Cacti can be found in so many locations. The varieties of cactus range from variations of colors, habitats, shapes, and sizes. 

When you think of cacti, you more quickly think of the family of desert cacti. However, a cactus does not just thrive in the middle of the desert. A cactus can thrive in your home, back yard, or in your garden, too. 

Cactus varieties are so expansive that there are many climates a cactus can endure. You just have to make sure you pick the right cactus type for your home and local climate.

There are many types of cacti that are wonderful additions to your indoor spaces! Here are some:

  • Cereus peruvianus (Peruvian apple cactus)
  • Echinocactus grusonii (golden barrel cactus)
  • Mammillaria hahniana (old lady cactus)
  • Opuntia microdasys (prickly pear, bunny ears cactus)
  • Hatiora gaertneri (Easter cactus)
  • Schlumbergera truncata (holiday cactus, Thanksgiving cactus)
  • Astrophytum asterias
  • Saguaro cactus
  • Christmas cactus
  • Star cactus
  • Gymnocalycium mihanovichii
  • Totem pole cactus
  • Santa Rita prickly pear cactus
  • Carnegiea gigantea
  • Moon cactus

These varieties of cactus come in abundance and are so unique. One of the greatest assets of owning a cactus is the variety made available to you. Additionally, these cactus types are among the cactus potted varieties. This makes them a great addition to your home or outdoor patio. 

Another common breakdown of varieties of cactus is desert cacti and jungle cacti. Desert cacti are known to be incredible flowerers. A jungle cactus, however, can be more temperamental when it comes to producing flowers. 

Each type is found in its prospective locations and provides something unique to your cactus family. Both types can thrive indoors, which makes them beautiful statement pieces to your living spaces. 

There are plenty of cactus variety pictures for you to browse, so you can get a look at which one fits your style and needs the best. It might feel confusing to discover which stores have the best cactus varieties, but it does not have to be. You do not need to look any further for the best cactus variety.

 Let’s Learn How To Care for Cacti 

Caring for your cactus does not have to be a difficult task! Actually, it is quite simple. There are several methods that are recommended. Generally, there is a sure-fire way to ensure your cacti are thriving. 

Follow these steps and you are sure to have a growing cactus:

Watering: As a desert plant, cacti need to be watered sparsely. Generally, your cactus will need water every 10 to 14 days in the summer and once monthly in the winter. Once the first three inches of its soil are dry, it’s time for a little moisture. If your cacti are wrinkling, do a small soak watering to bring it back from dehydration. Always err on the side of underwatering for your cactus to avoid scab and root rot.

Light: Cacti need up to eight hours of direct, bright sunlight every day, but look out for sunburn. If your cactus begins to turn yellow or brown, move it away from the light until it can cool off. If your cactus is getting too little light, it will appear as though it is reaching for a light source by growing toward the direction of light. 

Temperature: Cacti prosper outdoors, but they should never be kept in temperatures below 50 degrees. Keep your cacti warm and dry by positioning them far away from air conditioning or drafts.

Repotting: You’ll only need to repot your cactus every few years, once roots start peaking out from the bottom of its container. Use a slightly larger container so your cactus has room to grow and expand, but nothing too roomy. Cacti enjoy a snug fit. Don’t water the repotted plant for a few weeks while it adjusts to its new soil. 

Following these simple steps will play a huge part in your success as a cactus owner. 

 Start Your Cactus Collection Now 

All varieties of cactus provide such unique characteristics to your home or garden. If you want a variety of blooms, interesting shapes and colors, and an easy plant to care for, the cactus should be at the top of your plant must-have list. May we suggest our Petite Cacti Garden? Shop it here!

 

Sources:

Cactus and Succulent Care for Beginners | Cactus and Succulent Society of San Jose

Cactaceae (cactus family) | Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum

Desert Cacti - Cacti Indoors | Research Guides at New York Botanical Garden

Cactus | San Diego Zoo

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