Mini succulents and other conventional houseplants are in for a big competition. Cacti décor designs are springing up from every corner of the internet and boy, don’t they just look gorgeous!
Taming these desert survivors may seem hard, but not to cacti connoisseurs. Nothing beats the unique rustic look exuded by cacti. With their spiny texture and varied shapes, you’d be forgiven to think they’re living sculptures.
And no, they don’t need to be watched closely. Cacti actually thrive on neglect. (Yes, deprive them and they’ll still grow). Love them too much and you’ll soon be burying lots of them.
This is good news to beginner gardeners, busy plant lovers or brown thumbs who are looking for some bragging rights. Whichever category you fall into, cacti got you covered, talk about independence! If you’re a brown thumb, be sure to join our Succulent Plant Lounge, a lot of the members here converse and help each other out, it’s a great community to be in for succulents.
Sold on getting one of these alien-looking plants for your living room? Picking just any variety for your indoor needs may not be a good idea. Certain cacti varieties are just not meant to be tamed. Be that as it may, there are cacti species that thrive indoors and may even reward you with spectacular blooms.
Ready to explore? Let’s do this!
Bishop’s Cap— Astrophytum Myriostigma
Native to the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico, the Bishop’s Cap cacti is the most popular species in the genus Astrophytum. Its appearance resembles a star-shaped globe with equally divided segments. This hardy plant is usually green in color while young but as it matures, it’s covered by a grayish coating of fine scales to protect it from sun burn.
Tiny spines are lined on the ribs that separate the plant’s segments giving it a distinctive look. Take good care of it and it’ll give you brilliant yellow blooms during spring. Feeding it some fertilizer from time to time will do just that, any highly rated fertilizer for cacti like this will work just fine.
These dainty flowers appear at the center top of the plant where the ridges that separate the different segments converge.
Also known as the Monk’s hood, taking care of the Bishop’s Cap is an easy ride. The can thrive in light shades but require sunlight for at least three hours a day. They can do well in a window sill on a south or west-facing window. Subject them to plenty of sun if you want to see the blooms.
We think a great window sill planter like this modern white one from Window Garden will look wonderful with the Bishop’s Cap cactus.
Astrophytum myriostigma prefers quick draining soil so avoid your regular gardening mix. Water infrequently as too much water will lead to an early grave. You may feed them diluted fertilizer once a month during their growing season. Propagation mainly through seeds.
Barrel Cactus— Ferrocactus Species
Arrayed with ferocious spines, this quirky cactus makes a perfect compliment to your existing interiorscape. As the name suggests, the barrel cactus is spherical with long spines on its ribs. The spikes act as protection to the juicy, edible pulp located on the inside.
The barrel cactus has a long life span and may live for a couple of decades. Its size varies depending on the species. Some are squat while others may be as tall as 10 feet. (Now that’s one tall and spiky plant!)
This cactus is a true sun lover and prefers full sun for a few hours a day. Setting it beside a large uncovered window will ensure it gets plenty of sun for optimum growth. Water sparingly, and do so after the soil has completely dried out. Use commercial cacti mix to prevent damp soil related problems like root rot and fungi.
If you find yourself in a situation where you have to handle the barrel cactus with your bare hands, don’t. Be safe with cut resistant gloves so that the sharp spines won’t make a dent in your flesh.
Old Lady Cactus— Mammilaria Hahniana
Native to Guanajuato state of Mexico, this cactus is tall growing reaching to a height of 10 inches. Mammilaria hahniana is commonly referred to as the old lady cactus due to its white hair covering on the entire plant. The white hairs and spine also serve to protect the plant from intense sun.
Use well-draining cacti mix while potting this plant as they hate sitting in damp soil. Water once a week during the hot season and once a month during winter. Mammilaria hahniana will readily bloom in bright sunlight.
Angel Wings Cactus— Opuntia Albispina
Also known as bunny ears, the angel wings cactus is a desert denizen, highly adapted to small amounts of water and extensive heat. It has a striking appearance with its flat pads endowed with glochids –a fancy term for the white prickles you see on its surface.
Unlike most cacti, it lacks spines as these are replaced with clusters of hair on the surface of the pads. Careful though, these glochids can still injure you so take care while handling it.
Opuntia albispina is a summer bloomer producing creamy yellow flowers with globular edible fruits that are purple in color. Provide it with lots of light, quick draining soil and infrequent watering and you’ll have one happy angel wing cactus.
Christmas Cactus— Schlumbergera Bridgessii
Well, if you can’t pronounce the complex scientific name, don’t worry. You can also call it the thanksgiving or Easter cactus. Unlike most cacti, the Christmas cactus is spineless, characterized by its serrated green leaves.
This Brazilian cacti blooms in winter, producing showy tubular flowers in shades of purple, pink, red and pink.
Keep your Christmas cactus in shaded light with a few hours in direct bright sunlight. Exposing it in hot sun will lead to sun burn. This plant is native to the tropical forests of Brazil and so it needs more water than other cacti. Thus, water frequently during its growing seasons but be careful to let the water drain out. If you’re wondering, propagation is also possible via cuttings.
Saguaro Cactus— Carnegiea Gigantean
Native to the Sonoran Desert of Mexico, the Saguaro cactus is a slow growing and long lived plant that can live up to two centuries. It’s scientific name, carnegiea gigantean means gigantic candle. And quite rightly so! This cactus can grow up to 40 feet in height.
Saguaros are barrel-shaped with water storing capacity in the external pleats. It is hard on blooming and may take over 35 years for flowers to appear.
Carnegiea prefers bright sunlight. Water only once a month and cut back on watering during winter and other cool seasons. Let the soil be grainy and quickly draining for optimum growth.
Rat Tail Cactus— Aporocactus Flagelliformis
Can you throw a guess of the native home of this beauty? That’s right! The magnificent Mexico –home to almost all cacti.
If rats annoy you, well hopefully not this quirky rat tail cactus. With its trailing stems covered with fine spines, it’s definitely the perfect plant to set up on a hanging basket. The rat tail cactus thrives on bright sunlight and if everything goes well, they may bloom in spring bringing forth spectacular pink flowers.
Water as you would any cactus, making sure not to overwater the plant. Well-draining commercial cacti mix is recommended to prevent root rot. You can share the rat tail cactus with friends through cuttings. More the merrier! If you have some to giveaway, why not lend some to our members at Succulent Plant Lounge?
Star Cactus— Astrophytum Asteria
It’s a short, plump and round plant with approximately eight ribs each arrayed with woolly areoles. Also known as the sand dollar cactus or sea urchin cactus, Astrophytum asteria is generally green in color covered with decorative white dots.
When conditions are right, the star cactus blooms during spring, producing alluring yellow flowers having orange shades at the center. The fruits are pink, gray or reddish in color, with woolly hair covering them.
Taking care of Astrophytum asteria is quite a breeze. Use grainy cacti mix that’s well-draining and water them twice a month. Ensure the soil dries out completely before in between watering. These sun lovers prefer bright light so get them the south or west facing window for healthy growth.
Have enough of the cacti yet? If you get any particular cactus please let us know and if you want us to write a full in depth article on how to take care of one of these cacti, don’t be afraid to comment it below.
Succulent City is here to help!