What Is The Purpose of Thorns on The Cactus Plant?

What is the Purpose of Thorns on a Cactus Plant?

Cacti are beautiful plants. I mean that’s why you have a few of them around, right? We’re guilty of it for sure…

But with this good look, comes the grueling task of having to deal with the thorns, or rather spines as they’re usually referred to in botanical circles. Yes, they may add to the beauty of these plants (with a variety of colors and sizes). But what if they were a bit, say, tender?

Well, if the spines existed for the sole purpose of sitting around your home just maybe that would have been possible. But we all know where they were really meant to be – out there in mostly dry environments braving the harshest of conditions.

And these spines play a huge role in this coping. They’re an adaptation that has ensured the survival of cacti out there in places where a majority of floral is non-existent.

These thorns range from the long and blatantly don’t-mess-with-us types to the small, fine and yet vicious glochids. Despite this, their functions are more or less the same.

Purpose of Thorns on Cactus Plant

Let’s get to it!

Shade by day insulation by night

A thing with desert temperatures is that they’re always swinging to the extremes – day and night.

During the day, temperatures are sky high with the shining sun. As the day wears off and the sun disappears in the opposite direction, a downward spiral in readings kicks in resulting in very cold nights.

Now, these aren’t very nice fluctuations for any living thing out there. And that’s where thorns save the day for cacti.

Their numerous number on some species adds up to form a considerable amount of cover for the plant. So, during the day, the cactus plant is safe from the scalding hot sun (and the accompanying high temperatures). During the night when temperatures are bottom low, the cactus plant is kept warm by a thin layer of air – attributable to the thorns.

Protection from predators

A known fact: there is very little vegetation in the desert. But you know what?

Still, there is a considerable number of herbivores that need food in the same desert. They need vegetation to keep going. And water, of course.

Cacti would have been great sources for both of the above. Only that they would have been extinct by now, maybe. Most of these animals wouldn’t dare touch the cacti. So, definitely they have their thorns to thank for that.

Well, it’s true that some desert animals still have a way around the spines and do manage to get a bite (pack rats, bighorn sheep, desert tortoise etc). But it’s also true that the sharp thorns have kept away lots of others from munching the cactuses out of existence. I mean seriously, would you ever want to munch on something like a cactus, talk about very painful dental visit.

Diffusing Light

Cacti are light-loving by nature. Each part has to get plenty of it for the plants to grow accordingly.

But sometimes this is not possible largely due to the style of growth of some. For instance, shrubby ones. Light is going to reach just a few stems. Well, that’s if the cactus plant was just a smooth-stemmed structure. But bless the thorns –they split up light, evenly distributing it around the whole plant.

Water traps

In fog-prevalent deserts, thorns are quite instrumental in quenching the plant. They trap enough of this fog to turn it into water droplets that later find their way down around the base of the plant.

With the shallow root system common in cacti, the water is quickly absorbed by the plant. And the cacti live on.

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Air traps

As mentioned above, thorns trap air around cacti that is pivotal in the survival of the plant two major ways. Insulation is one. The other is water preservation.

The thin film of air reduces the rate of evaporation of water from the plant. As a result, very little of this water is lost to the atmosphere. In a desert setting, this is a huge deal.

Propagation

Certainly not all. Especially not the large ones.

Glochids are the ones that serve this purpose perfectly in some cacti plants like Cholla.

The glochids are tiny, numerous and get easily (and firmly) attached to a passing body due to their barbed shafts. That way, segments of the plant are carried from the parent to some other place where they form new plants upon being dropped.


Wrapping Things Up

That’s how these thorns have helped cacti survive in the wild. The thorns could be pointless now, you know, with all the care these plants get as houseplants. But their prickly parts are not going away anytime soon.

Who knows, maybe they will as they spend more time in pots. But, that will definitely take a lot of years.

If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Does the Bunny Cactus Hop?

All You Need to Know About the Bunny Cactus

The IUCN assigns the bunny cactus the “Least Concern” tag. That means it’s nowhere near getting extinct – the population is huge. I think it’s safe to say, they’re hopping all over the place!

By Royal Horticultural Society’s standards, this plant is recommended for anyone with an interest in gardening. That’s why they’ve given it the Award of Garden Merit to show just how easy it is to care for. Talk about an easy bunny to take care of!

What do the above two facts insinuate?

This particular cactus is a big deal for anyone who considers him/herself a plant lover. Do you?

If yes, there is a likelihood that you’ve come across this plant. And you’re here to find out more about it. Keep reading before it hops away.

Bunny Cactus
beautiful bunny cactus display @white_barn_owl

Bunny Cactus— Opuntia Microdasys

This darling of a plant belongs to the extensive cactus family of Cactaceae. Within this family, it falls in the genus Opuntia, microdasys species. Thus it has the scientific name Opuntia microdasys, go figure!

As you already may know, bunny cactus is the commonly used name. But it’s not the only known. Other popular names that people use to reference this plant include the following…

  • Bunny ears cactus
  • Polka-dot cactus
  • Angel’s-wings cactus

The species is a close relative of Opuntia rufida and some botanists treat these two as one. See the small differentiating details below!

Bunny Cactus
a good boy with his bunny cactus @connie_succulents

What does a Bunny Cactus look like?

The cradle of Opuntia microdasys has been found to be Mexico; central and northern parts of it. But thanks to the succulents storming popularity, you can find them in lots of places around the world.

The bunny cactus plant can grow to a height of at most 60 cm and is devoid of a central stem. Instead, it’s made of oval-shaped green pads that emerge in pairs. This gives the bunny ears cactus the appearance of a rabbit’s head hence the name. The pads take on the green color later as they mature but are red when emerging.

Each one of these pad segments is densely covered by glochids instead of the typical spines as in other cacti. The glochids can either be yellow or white in color and are easily detached. This is the minute difference between this species and the rufida species – the color of the glochids. The one on Opuntia rufida are redish-brown. And these little structures aren’t the kind of stuff that should land on your skin. There is some serious itching involved, so beware when handling this plant.

You know the saying, “Handle with caution.”

It bears yellow flowers at the top end of the nearly-round stems. But that is on rare occasions. If you find one or grow one that appears like this, share it in Succulent City Plant Lounge, i’m sure a lot of our exclusive members would love to see this rare sight!

bunny cactus
mini bunny cactus @shinyhappyleaf

How to Take Care of the Bunny Cactus

Here’s that tired line – the bunny cactus does best in negligence and is well-suited for beginner gardeners. And it’s true. The bunny doesn’t need that much attention in order to hop vibrantly!

But it’s a sure thing that you don’t want to leave your plant to its own devices. Here’s how you can look after it, with little maintenance requirements.

The ideal Environment

The plant has a varied demand as a far as temperatures are concerned. Whatever range is best for one season is fatal for another.

For a larger part, it does best with temperatures of up to 38°C (100°F). But come winter seasons, maintaining this reading will kill the plant. To keep your plant in one piece during this season, maintain lower temperatures (10-18°C or 50-65°F). You may even get rewarded with a bloom if you keep up these readings.

bunny cactus
sunny bunny @findbeautyinallthingsnature

Sunlight Requirements to Make the Bunny Cactus Happy

This species cherishes full light exposure.

Place it on a south or west-facing window for full days during all the seasons excluding winter. In winter, limit the exposure to just a few hours per day.

In case of deficient light in your region, consider putting your plant under a fluorescent light for 16 hours maximum every day. If all else fails we highly recommend using a grow light to keep your cactus happy. This isn’t ideal for this specific plant, but it can help you achieve more light for the darkest of hours to rejuvenate your bunny.

bunny cactus
a bunny and its pebbles @prakritisgarden

Soil and Fertilizing Must-Haves

Well-draining is the one property you need to look out for when potting this plant, amongst other plants. A lack of it will lead to root- rot, which spells doom for the bunny ears cactus. So a potting mix with a tendency to let away water quickly is a no-brainer.

And there are two options for you here:

  • Purchase a commercial cactus and succulent mix.
  • Make your own well-draining mix by mixing potting soil, coarse sand and pumice/perlite.

For the second option, you can test for drainage by wetting the mixture and squeezing it. If it is coarse and crumby, kudos. Proceed with it. If not, add some more coarse sand and pumice/perlite.

Liquid fertilizer should be applied during the growth of the plant, that is in summer, spring and part of fall. 3-4 times should serve the plant just right for optimal growth.

Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 10 Quarts
Miracle-Gro Foaming Succulent Plant Food, 8 oz (6 Pack)
USA Pumice - 1.25 Dry Quarts
Hoffman 14302 Western Desert Sand, 2 Quarts, Brown/A
-
Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 10 Quarts
-
Miracle-Gro Foaming Succulent Plant Food, 8 oz (6 Pack)
USA Pumice - 1.25 Dry Quarts
Hoffman 14302 Western Desert Sand, 2 Quarts, Brown/A

Last update on 2022-01-16 / Amazon

Tip: Stash your fertilizer in winter.

bunny cactus
colorful bunny cactus display @colourfulcactusflowers

Hydrating your Bunny Cactus

Being a desert grower, this plant is always on standby to grab as much water as possible through its roots.

This means it doesn’t need gallons upon gallons of water just because it’s in a pot. So you don’t need to try and outdo yourself with watering it every day.

The top part of the mix should be dry 2 inches down before watering again. That is during the seasons when the plant is growing.

In winter, when the plant is dormant for a larger part, watering isn’t necessary. But keep the potting mix moisturized nevertheless. For more tips on watering your succulents and cacti, read our article on how often you should water these plants, it’s helped more than 1000 plant lovers!

bunny cactus
best friends @lostinblossom

How to Propagate the Bunny Cactus Easily

You can either use seeds or the individual stem segments.

For seeds, soak them up briefly before sowing. After sowing keep the temperature at 21°C for proper germination. Let the baby bunnies grow to considerable sizes before potting. Seed should be sowed in spring.

For the stem pads, cut off a couple of mature ones from the plant and allow them to callous over one week. For best results, group the segments in threes or more. Burry them an inch into the potting mix and water regularly to promote healthy root development. Cuttings should be made in summer. Remember to mind the glochids.

In both cases, use cactus and succulents potting soil. You can use the soil we mentioned earlier but if you’re into the organic trend, you’re in luck.

bunny cactus
a bun in the sun @gardenstudiogoa

Repotting the Bunny Cactus the Bigger it Grows

You’re going to have to repot your plant every one or two years. This way, the plant doesn’t grow too big for the pot and the roots are in an ample position to keep growing. Your bunny cactus should not seem like it’s squished into the pot nor should it look like it has way too much room for it’s own good.

A good sized pot typically allows for a plant to be snug but allow room for growth and movement. 

For the love of your skin, don’t touch the plant with bare hands. Use a rolled up piece of cloth or towel during the move. Even simple gardening gloves will do the trick, we just can’t stress enough that your skin should NOT touch this plant. You’ll have very irritated skin if you do.

Summer is the perfect season to repot as your plant will have enough time to recover from the whole process before the cold catches on. Even then, give the plant some time before resuming the fertilizing and watering rhythm. A week without watering is fine at first, while for fertilization, you can wait for as much as a month.

Again, DON’T TOUCH THE PLANT WITH YOUR SKIN.

bunny cactus
cool bunny cactus @vrikshvan

Pests to Look Out for & Potential Problems

Mealybugs and scale insects love to hang out on the pads. But their fun isn’t particularly a good thing for the plant. They suck sap out of the stems which is detrimental to the plant’s well-being.

To stop them, apply a mixture of rubbing alcohol with water on each of the individual pests using cotton. Grab yourself any kind of 70% rubbing alcohol and dilute it further with water. Be sure to use gloves to protect your skin from long sessions of alcohol scrubbing.

For a more persistent pest problem, read our article: “How to Get Rid of Mealybugs From Your Succulents”.

Root rot is a common problem due to overwatering. Be sure to follow the watering guidelines above to evade this problem.

bunny cactus
peek-a-boo bunny cactus @cacti.cacti

Where Can I Buy a Bunny Cactus

In a lot of places!

You can choose to either order online or pick up your bunny from your local garden nursery.

To order online, log on to any of the following and click away to order them bunnies

  • Amazon
  • Succulent Gardens
  • Mountain Crest Gardens
  • Leaf and Clay

If you prefer checking out your plant in person before purchasing, have a visit to your local nurseries and see what they got for you. Given the popularity of these bunny cacti plants, you might have luck in finding these in your local nurseries anyways.

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bunny cactus
two best-bunnies @cocolentmersin

Thanks for reading with us and be sure to share your favorite photo above! Maybe even share your thoughts about how cute the bunny cactus is in our exclusive group, Succulent Plant Lounge.

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide. 

Happy planting!?

9 Most Rare Cacti that are Hard to Find

9 rare cacti

If you’re new to the cacti world and you’re already fascinated by the magnificent saguaro cacti, well, don’t get too excited –that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Cacti are quickly increasing in popularity as the latest house plants décor. And quite rightly so! Their antique and alien looks set them apart and make them seem like living sculptures. And literally anyone can grow them – they require little water, some sun, and probably lots of neglect. Yes, neglect!

No, seriously. That’s just how easy it gets when it comes to growing cacti. See how easy it is to take care of your cacti or succulents here.

Throw in some exotic, rare specimens in the mix and the story becomes more interesting. Their quirky and striking looks adds a tinge of charm to your indoor aesthetics. These rare cacti may require extra effort in taking care of them but every minute spent is totally worth it.

Ready to take them on?

Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii – Rubi Ball

Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii Rubi Ball
Rubi Ball @suzy2510

The Rubi Ball cactus, also known as the red cap cactus or the Hibotan cactus, is a showy and brightly colored cacti variant of the moon cactus. It pairs perfectly with a dark contrasted planter like this modern one from Greenaholics.

Although usually red in color, they can come in different shades such as purple, white, yellow, or even orange.

The stem is globose (fancy word for spherical), colored, and possess rigid ribs which divide it into several segments. The ribs have white markings that hold the brown spines which grow to 1 cm long. The Rubi Ball is a bloomer producing pale pink flowers and gray-green fruits.

The Rubi Ball cactus contains little to no chlorophyll and therefore it must be grafted to another species for survival. The graft is mostly a Hylocereus cactus that makes the bottom green part. This is a parasitic relationship where the top colored Rubi ball depends on the lower Hylocereus cactus for food and even support. What a weird relationship right?

Growing a Rubi Ball is quite straight-forward. They prefer partial shades but won’t mind a few hours in bright, direct sunlight. You’ll want to keep them away from the hottest summer day times as this may injure the delicate flowers. Use a commercial cacti mix that’s well-draining. Be easy on watering. These plants are desert survivors and can go for quite a while without water. Let loose a deluge and only do so again once the soil completely dries out.

Check our article about the best soil for succulents if you need some pointers.

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Stenocereus Hollianus Cristata

Stenocereus Hollianus Cristata
Stenocereus Hollianus Cristata @plantasia75

This spiny, exotic cactus is easy to care for and may suit both indoor and outdoor gardeners. Compact and wavy in appearance, this cactus embodies true versatility in the rare cacti space. It can survive anywhere –full sun or partial shade.

The spines which may be white or cinnamon-brown in color minimize water loss and this makes stenecereus a real plant camel. Give it a thorough pouring and allow the soil to dry out completely in between the watering. It loves a well-draining cacti mix so that it doesn’t sit on damp soil for long. Ensure there is good air circulation around it for optimum growth.

Dinosaur Back Plant

Dinosaur Back Plant
Dinosaur Back Plant @justin.carrier

The dinosaur back plant, also known as Myrtillocactus geometrizans cristata, is an interesting plant that’s native to the northern and central parts of Mexico. It can be huge, growing to a height of 5 meters or 16 feet for those that need a bit more perspective. Although these can get very massive, when they’re babies it’s a great aesthetic to have indoors, a pot like this would suit it well!

It has a one-of-a-kind appearance that results from its intertwined tree trunk that’s usually cluster forming. The Dinosaur Back Plant is blue in color and may be tipped with a bold hue. These semi-hardy cacti have a waxy body and would suffer if exposed to anything below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.

The dinosaur back plant doesn’t need lots of water. Ensure you’re using a well-draining cacti mix to prevent root rot. Keep it in bright direct sunlight or in filtered sun. This cactus produces creamy blooms and teeny fruits during spring or summer.

Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus

Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus
Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus @agirlwithagarden

Pink and pretty, Echinocereus Rigidissimus Rubrispinus (quite a name!) is a showy cactus that thrives in full sun. It is globose in shape, completely covered with little spines that are pink in color.

Though quite cold hardy, this cactus doesn’t do well when exposed to frost and may succumb to scarring. Use soils with high drainage capacity especially those fortified with perlite. The Rainbow Hedgehog cactus requires little water during winter and none when the humidity levels are sky-high.

Watering a cactus is not an easy task, that’s why you need to know How Often to Water A Cactus!

It produces brilliant pink blooms with a white shade at the center. If you want a beautiful cactus, this is definitely the one!

Emerald Idol— Opuntia Cylindrica Cristata

Emerald Idol Opuntia Cylindrica Cristata
Opuntia Cylindrica Cristata @likeplantlight

A member of the prickly pear family (which actually produce edible fruits— check it out here!), the Emerald Idol is a fascinating rare cactus with an antique appearance. It grows in a curvy form, marked with white ribs that are covered with small spines.

Water only when the soil is bone dry, as this cactus can quickly rot if given too much to drink. This sun lover prefers a brightly lit window sill or indirect sunlight. Use a porous potting mix and set it in a well-ventilated space. Avoid exposing the emerald idol to frost as this may lead to an early grave.

Using a squeeze bottle like this for your mini or baby cacti will allow you to control the watering a lot more too!

Lophocereus Schotti— Totem Pole

Lophocereus Schotti Totem Pole
Totem Pole @succulentsaddicted

The Totem Pole cactus is not your average hostile type of cacti. It sets itself apart from the common cacti landscape by its spineless, smooth and tall physique. Though slow growing, Lophocereus Schotti can grow huge and live for many years.

This rare cactus is native to the Baja California Peninsula and thrives in full sun in its original home. If growing it indoors, place it in a south-facing window for maximum bright sunlight all day long. Here are some tips for growing your succulents indoors.

Propagation is via cuttings as this cactus doesn’t bloom or produce seeds. Avoid feeding it too much water otherwise, it will be plagued by pests and diseases.

Echinopsis cv. ‘Haku-Jo’

Echinopsis cv. Haku-Jo
Echinopsis cv. ‘Haku-Jo’ @spina_di_cacti

Quite a fast grower, the Haku-Jo cactus is a Japanese cultivar believed to be a chimera – a fancy word alluding to the fact that it may be having genes of different species. It is dainty and globose in shape having wooly areoles embedded with sharp, brown spines growing in clusters.

This plant is hard to get to a flowering phase but when it does, it produces lightly-scented white flowers that resemble trumpets. Caring for the Haku-jo is easy –set them out in full sun during summer and ensure they don’t get wet during winter.

Orange Cob— Lobivia Famatimensis Cristata

Orange Cob Lobivia Famatimensis Cristata
Lobivia Famatimensis Cristata @succume_right_meow

Squat and tightly forming, the Orange Cob cactus is a spring or summer bloomer giving forth gigantic flowers that may be red, orange, or pink in color.

Its body is covered with a dense network of dark orange spines. This cactus may easily rot on you and prefers being kept dry during winter. It doesn’t mind some frost and so it might make an awesome addition to your outdoor collection. Just ensure you plant it in well-draining soils.

Opuntia Subulata – Eve’s Needle

Opuntia Subulata Eve’s Needle
Opuntia Subulata @ckristufek

This popular shrubby cactus is tall growing and may reach a height of 60 cm. Thought to be a native of the Andes of Peru, the Eve’s Needle does well in lots of sunlight. Just like any other cactus, it is water-saving and therefore requires little water for survival.

If you’re looking for some pop and color, the Eve’s Needle may not be your best fit as it takes a long time to bloom. However, when it does, the flowers are red with reddish fruits just beneath. If you want color, Hens and Chicks are not a good choice!

Be sure to protect this plant from frost— but that doesn’t mean that you can’t grow it outdoors.


There you have it… 9 rare cacti! Are you going to go hunt for them?

Join our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge, and let us know if you ever capture any of these 9 rare cacti.

Did you enjoy learning about 9 Rare Cacti that are Hard to Find? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about Rare Succulents You Wish You Knew About. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Happy planting!

What is a Cactus Plant?

What is a Cactus?

The cactus is a very popular plant, no questions about that, right?

Among the more than 10,000 succulent species out there, cacti steal the show with just how every plant enthusiast is on the prowl on grabbing at least one of them. They surely reign supreme not just in the succulents’ circles but the whole houseplants empire.

You have one sitting around, right? Definitely. I know we do.

So, it’s only prudent that you at least have a little bit of more information about your plant. Here it is.

What is a Cactus?
cactus on cactus on cactus @olivra.cactusucculents

Why is it Named “Cactus”?

Cactus is a Latin-inspired word from the ancient Greek life. Back then, kaktos was the word used to refer to a spiky plant that was prevalent in Sicily.

But as time will have it, the name gradually became a reference to the present day plants we know, most which are desert dwellers in the wild.

Cactus in the Botany World

In scientific terms, cactus belongs to the family— Cactaceae. This family is a vast collection under which there are more than 120 genera and an upwards of 1,700 species.

Though the majority here grow in arid and semiarid areas, a select few cacti thrive in tropical regions with far much better conditions for lush growth.

Here’s an article depicting the difference between cacti and succulents.

What is a Cactus?
stand tall @thornlesscactus_

Origin of Cactus

Cacti are largely endemic to the American continents. The whole regions from north to south are home to dozens of known cactus plants.

The northern limit stretches all the way to Western Canada. In the south, the cacti cover extends to Chile, British Columbia, Alberta Argentina and Patagonia.

Mexico takes the lion’s share, as the country native to the most species of cacti.

The only cactus without its roots in these regions is the Rhipsalis Baccifera, which has been found to be a native of parts of East Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka.

Before we continue, we wanted to share this awesome opportunity from Amazon, in honor of our recent partnership with the online- giant! For a limited time, Amazon is offering a FREE 30-day trial of their famous Amazon Prime Membership. Get full access to all the perks, including FREE 2-day shipping on all eligible products. Click this link to learn more and sign up today!

What is a Cactus?
pickles? Or cacti? @houseplantcanvas

General Characteristics of Cacti

Most cacti are adapted to thrive in conditions of little water. The following are the physical attributes that make this possible. Of course, there are exceptions which form just a small part of the cactus type.

If you need some additional help on when to water your succulents, we have the perfect article for you!

What is a Cactus?
bright and sunny @houstonpetals

Short Growing Season and Long Periods of Dormancy

Water availability (rather lack of it) is a strong contributor to this. The growing seasons coincide with periods of rain, which are obviously short-lived. Consequently, the plants have to use this limited time (and the additional vital resource) to develop.

Growth is put on hold as soon the rains are over to preserve as much water as possible.

When it’s time to repot your cactus, check out this article!

A Shallow Root System

This is very important in the desert ecosystem, where rains are far apart. The roots are found near the surface and spread out over a large area so that any water droplets are immediately sucked up and stored.

What is a Cactus?
careful where you walk… @natizxy

Highly Modified Leaves in the Form of Spines

Most cacti are devoid of leaves. Instead, they possess spikes that serve a number purposes

  • They deter desert herbivores from feeding on them
  • Reduce loss of water from the stem by being hindrances to free flow of air around the plant.

The spikes also serve as distinctive features of different cacti plants. By looking at them, you can be able to tell which plant it is that you’re handling. That’s by observing properties like color, number, shape, size and hardness.

Just in case you may be a little clumsy (like some us here), here’s a useful pair of tweezers that have help us pull out a cactus thorn… or two.

What is a Cactus?
too cute to eat @marj.jpg

Store Water in Their Stems

Succulents typically store water in their leaves. But for cacti, their reduced leaves come up short on size.

So, the stem is the part equipped for this function. The presence of spikes and a waxy cuticle greatly reduces the amount that is lost in the air.

The stem is also a food factory for the plant.

Here’s a more in-depth conversation about what adaptations a cactus has. Check it out! And here’s a useful watering bottle for when your cacti become thirsty!

What is a Cactus?
an army of cacti @theboskycompany

Specialized Branches in the Form of Areoles

Areoles are a feature specific to cacti. They are small hairy structures found on the stems.

From the areoles, spikes and flowers emerge. Areoles on the lower parts of the stem become inactive after a few years leaving those at the terminals to keep up with their function.

What is a Cactus?
photogenic cactus @viverolafelicidad

More Than Just Ornamental Plants— Uses of Cacti

Of course cacti are grown for the main reason of raising the aesthetic appeal of a place – be it a home or an office. Or as a hobby.

Here’s a few planters we love tat would look great in your house! Check out this one with a bamboo archway, these cute minimalistic ceramic pots, or even this festive cactus pot!

The large number of species really does provide more than enough options in terms of color, shape and size. But then this same number is a gateway to more cacti benefits. Have a look.

And if you’re curious… Here’s our interpretation of what it means if someone gifts you a cactus!

What is a Cactus?
it’s a cactus… inside of a cactus! @uurscactuses

Food

Cacti are a known source of food in many regions across the world. Generally, any fleshy fruit from a cactus is a potential savory delight.

Apart from fruits, flowers and pads of some cacti species are edible. The Indian Fig Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) is one of the plants whose fruits and pads can be munched. It is widely recognized for this in Mexico and parts of Africa. Check out this edible Prickly Pear Cactus.

Other cacti grown for food are Carnegiea Gigantea, Stenocereus Queretaoensis, Hylocereus Undatus among others.

Cacti can even become a part of your daily beauty routine, with this antioxidant serum!

Fodder / Forage

Human beings are not the only beneficiaries of the edible nature of some cacti. Livestock too enjoy a mouthful of these desert vegetation. But first, the spines will have to be removed. Manadacaru (Cereus Jamacaru) is the most common cactus for this purpose.

What is a Cactus?
bloomin’ cactus @thetrexgarden

Medicine

The medicinal properties of cacti are just limitless. Among the numerous species, there are a host of them that can be used to combat common illnesses effectively. They are:

  • Night-blooming Cereus whose stems and flowers are processed to manufacture medicine for urinary tract infections
  • Peyote whose extracts play a role in regulating blood pressure and sleep
  • Prickly Pear which is used to treat a range of conditions like indigestion, burned wounds and oedema. Here’s our article devoted to the Prickly Pear!

Other common uses include fencing and making alcoholic drinks (fermenting fruit syrup).

What is a Cactus?
Lime green cactus! @mook_cactus

What do you think? Are you ready to own a cactus (or add 10 more to your already existing collection)?

Let us help you get started! Have you heard of Succulents Box? They offer more than 200 varieties of succulents and cacti, that are organically grown in California, along with monthly subscription boxes of fresh succulents and air plants! Starting at just $5/month, you could be on your way to creating a beautiful succulent garden, all from the comfort of shopping at home! Click this link to learn more about Succulents Box and start your subscription today! 

Want to continue expanding your cacti knowledge? Check out these additional Succulent City articles — How to Check if Your Cactus is Dying, How to Make Your Own Succulent Soil at Home, 9 Rare Cacti That’s Hard to Find, or What is the Purpose of Thorns on a Cactus Plant + many, many more on our website!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to join our ever- growing succulent community on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Calling all succulents/cacti lovers— rookie or veteran! Succulent City has developed a line of 12 ebooks (see here), ranging on topics from indoor & outdoor succulents, essential tools, the best soil to use, and more! We even threw in a complimentary ebook to help get your succulent journey started you just have to insert your email on our front page for this. With our ebooks you’ll be a succulent guru in no time, have fun!

Happy planting! ?

5 Main Benefits of Succulents in Your Home

Benefits of succulents

Everyone can see that succulents are beautiful and make amazing home decor. But that’s not all succulents are good for! There are so many other uses and benefits of succulents besides just looking pretty. They improve air quality, have lots of medicinal uses, can improve your concentration, and more. 

Today, we’re going to cover five of the amazing benefits you’ll get from keeping succulents in your home. If you weren’t already a succulent collector, you will be after reading this post!

Succulents Improve Air Quality

Did you know that succulents can clean the air?

Succulents, like aloe and snake plants, are particularly good at removing toxins from the air. However, you’ll still benefit from keeping any succulent in your home as they will improve the air quality as well!

All plants have pores on their leaves that allow them to absorb gases in the air, including ones that aren’t good for you to breathe, like benzene and ammonia. So ditch that loud, noisy air purifier and get yourself some succulents!

Succulents also humidify the air, which improves the air quality in your home even more! They release water vapor through the pores in their leaves during photosynthesis, which puts a little extra moisture in the air and prevents it from getting too dry. Check out our more in-depth conversation about if succulents clean the air!

Dry indoor air can cause unpleasant symptoms, like sore throats and dry skin that nobody wants, so head to the garden center and pick up some more succulents today. They will enhance your home as well as give you health benefits! And you get to pick out cute little planters like these to put all your new succulents in!

Read more: Impressive Indoor Garden Ideas

Succulents Have Medicinal Properties

Succulents have been used throughout history to treat medical problems like cuts, burns, stomachaches, and more. Lots of them have medicinal properties, including aloe vera and yucca.

Several parts of aloe vera plants have medical benefits, including the juice and gel.

Aloe vera juice has become a pretty popular drink—you can get it at just about any health food store. It’s known to help reduce inflammation, especially in the digestive tract, so lots of people drink it to help with stomach problems.

Aloe vera gel has tons of benefits for the skin and is a common ingredient in body lotions and face creams. Rumor has it that Cleopatra applied it to her face daily to keep it looking supple and soft! That isn’t all. Check out our article about how this succulent helps treat eczema.

Historically, yucca was used to treat cuts and scratches, but now it’s also used as a treatment for arthritis. Yucca has saponins and other antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and ease joint pain. You can take yucca as a supplement, but we also like to cut it up and turn it into some delicious oven baked fries!

Succulents Improve Your Concentration

You already knew that keeping succulents on your desk can give you a boost of happiness at work, but did you know that it can improve your productivity and focus too?

That’s right! Two recent studies confirmed that keeping plants at your desk boosts your concentration so you can tackle your tasks faster.

The first study in 2011 had one group of people perform a reading task at a basic wooden desk with nothing on it, and a second group performs the same task at a desk with lots of plants around it. Unsurprisingly, the group surrounded by a bunch of pretty plants performed much better! A second study conducted in 2015 confirmed the findings, so you can definitely improve your concentration and attention just by keeping some beautiful succulents on your desk.

Your succulent habit will more than pay for itself because of that raise you’ll get at work for being super productive!

Excited to bring some succulents into your office? Check out these two articles to make sure your work environment is succulent-friendly— “Can Succulents Survive in My Work Environment” and “5 Office Succulents You Wish You Had at Work!”

@potted.arts

Succulents Make a Tasty Snack

While we don’t recommend that you pick up a random succulent off your shelf and start munching on it, we do recommend that you check out a few different types of edible succulents, including sea beans, pineapple, yucca, and some species of cacti, like opuntia and saguaro! Aside from this list, check out an additional 6 edible succulents that will excite your tastebuds!

Sea beans are super good for you and are gaining popularity in the culinary world. They might be a little harder to get your hands on than the ordinary green beans you see in grocery stores, but it’s worth it to track some sea beans down!

They have a flavor and texture that’s similar to asparagus, but they’re a little bit saltier because they’re grown on salt marshes and beaches. You can eat them raw or pan fry them up and serve them alongside some fish for a quick, healthy meal. They’re rich in protein, calcium, iron, and iodine, so you’ll definitely get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals if you include this succulent in your diet!

You already know we love to make fries out of yucca, but you’re probably wondering what in the world could we benefit from with a cactus?! Well, we love to cut it up and make a salsa out of it. We love to throw a little bit of pineapple and a hot pepper like habanero into the salsa too.

It sounds a little weird, but trust us—it’s super tasty and has health benefits too! Salsa made with cactus has lots of vitamin C and fiber, plus it’s low in calories. Opuntia leaves only have 23 calories per cup, so it’s a much more diet-friendly taco topping than guacamole. That leaves you lots of extra calories for margaritas!

Speaking of tasty snacks, if you want unlimited grocery delivery straight to your door for only $14.99 from Amazon, click here to sign up! We have it for the office and it comes in handy quite often actually, our favorite snacks are these nut mixes right now!

@rolilita

Taking Care of Succulents Reduces Stress

Studies have shown that taking care of houseplants reduces stress. After a long day at work, coming home and tending to your plants can help reduce your blood pressure, calm you down, and recover from the stress of all the mental tasks you completed during the day.

Succulents aren’t fussy or hard to care for, so they might even reduce your stress more than other plants! For the most part, you won’t have to worry about killing them, especially if you follow all of the succulent care tips we show here. The main thing you should watch out for is overwatering, but besides that, caring for your succulents will be a breeze!

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@the_brian_holt

Now that you know all of the benefits of having succulents in your home, are you going to buy a few (or a few more)? Let us know which types of succulents you’re going to adopt in the comments section below or share your stories in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge!

To continue enhancing your succulent knowledge, check out these informative articles from Succulent City! Take a look at Are Succulents Poisonous?, Caring for Succulents in the Spring, and How Long Do Succulents Live?.

Did you enjoy reading this post? If so, you’ll really enjoy the ebook about All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents.

Happy planting!