Search for hundreds of cacti and learn key information about each including photos, sun needs, water needs, hardiness zones, soil pH and so much more. Your ultimate cacti guide.
Welcome to our cacti database where we list many varieties of cacti.
Each listing includes an image and key growing information below in a table. Ordered A to Z by default.
Table of Contents
- Cacti Database
- Types of Cacti
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Are cacti succulents?
- Are cacti trees?
- Are cacti flowers?
- Are cacti ericaceous?
- Are cacti plants?
- Are cacti angiosperms?
- Are cacti monocots?
- Are cacti vegetables?
- Can cacti die?
- Can cacti grow in shade?
- Can cacti survive winter?
- Can cacti survive in low light?
- Can cacti grow in normal soil?
- Can cacti grow indoors?
- Can cacti grow in sand?
- Can cacti grow in a pot or container?
- Can cacti burn?
- Why do cacti have spines?
- Why do cacti have long roots?
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Types of Cacti
I. Cacti Buying Guide
When many people picture a cactus, they see that iconic barrel cactus with two limbs. While those are a common breed of cactus, the cactus family of plants is much more varied than that.
There are plenty of types of cacti that can add beauty to your home. In fact, scientists have discovered more than 2,000 species of cacti. Before you choose the best desert plant for you, consider where you will keep the plant, if you want a flowering variety, and from where the species of cactus comes.
A. Indoor Cacti Types
Cacti can be an incredible addition to any home. These beautiful plants are easy to maintain and can grow indoors with relative ease. However, if you want to plant some cacti indoors, it is important to choose a species of cactus that thrives in that sort of environment.
1. Christmas Cactus
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
If you are looking for something unique each Christmas, this unusual plant can give you what you need. The Christmas Cactus is named so because it blooms near the Christmas season when the days are much shorter. With proper care, this cactus can also bloom in the fall and spring.
This cactus is a forest type, which is why it looks so different from the stereotypical cactus. The blooms can be orange, pink, red, or white, depending on the plant.
This houseplant grows to between six and 12 inches tall and six to 18 inches wide. The exact size of your Christmas Cactus may vary depending on the size of the pot. Like most cacti, this plant is drought tolerant and doesn’t need much maintenance.
The plant itself costs between five and 15 dollars. You can buy it already potted from 35 dollars and up. It is best to buy a Christmas Cactus that already has flowers.
2. Easter Cactus
Source: Our House Plants
As you may be able to guess from the name, the Easter Cactus is a cousin to the Christmas Cactus. This beautiful houseplant is also a forest type. However, this kind of plant is native to drier forests than its Christmas cousin. The blooms on the Easter Cactus can be red, white, peach, orange, and even lavender.
Unlike other cacti, this plant like a little humidity. If you live in a dry area, be sure to add a little moisture to your home for this cactus. You can do this by putting the plant on a water-filled saucer.
This plant tends to grow out more than up. It may get as high as 12 inches, but rarely taller. The width of the cactus will depend on the size of the container. You can typically purchase this plant for around 25 dollars in a basic pot. Without a pot, you can score this gorgeous cactus for approximately 10 dollars.
3. Desert Types
Source: Our House Plants
The desert types of cactus are probably closer to what you imagine when you think of a cactus. These cacti can make surprisingly great houseplants. While they can hurt anyone who gets too close to their spikes, these plants are not generally toxic to children and pets.
There are many desert cacti that make great houseplants. In fact, there are hundreds of individual species. You can choose an indoor desert plant by deciding on the look you like if you want it to flower and its origins.
Desert cactus are relatively inexpensive. Depending on the size of the plant and retailer, you can get one of these cute cacti from less than a dollar to just a few bucks.
B. Outdoor Cacti Types
Do you think that cacti are only for boring, dry yards? Think again. These trendy plants make great additions to any yard. Not only do they add a fresh, unique look, but they are also easy to care for.
1. Barrel Cacti
Source: Cactus Store
Barrel (or globular) cacti look like, well, a barrel. These plants can grow up to three feet tall, but some varieties stay smaller than that. Typically, a fully-grown barrel cactus costs between 20 and 40 dollars. However, you can often find young cacti for only a few dollars.
A few examples of barrel cacti include:
- Golden Barrel
- Fishhook Barrel
- Monk’s Hood
- Blue Barrel
Each of these cacti likes dry soil and plenty of sunshine. If you live in a place where you get cold weather or wet soil, you may wish to plant your outdoor cacti in pots. This way, you can move the plants inside when conditions get harsh for them.
2. Columnar Cacti
Source: Cactus Store
Columnar type cacti, also known as “cereus type,” grow tall and skinny. There are approximately 170 species of columnar cacti, each of which has unique features. The one uniting element is that these cacti are taller than they are wide. In fact, some types can be ten times as tall as they are wide.
These cacti have an unusual longevity. In fact, some can live for up to 200 years. If you take care of these easy-going plants, they can last a lifetime. Fun fact: these cacti have been part of a human diet for thousands of years. Columnar cacti are amazing.
You can expect to pay between 10 and 30 dollars for one of these plants. However, very mature cacti can cost a bit more. A few of these can add great depth and texture to your outdoor garden.
3. Prickly Pear Cactus
Source: Desert USA
The third basic shape of outdoor cacti is the prickly pear or Opuntia genus. Rather than one of two columns or barrels, these plants have plenty of flat, fleshy surfaces that look like giant leaves. Most of these cacti create beautiful flowers of orange, pink, purple, and red. The “leaves” also range in color from bright green to subdued blue.
There are plenty of sizes of prickly pear cacti. Some smaller species can grow to less than a foot in height, while others can top seven feet. Adding these unique plants to your garden can complement your columnar and barrel cacti.
Types of prickly pear cacti include:
- Bearded Prickly Pear
- Blind Prickly Pear
- Beavertail Cactus
- Hedgehog Prickly Pear
- Brown-Spined Prickly Pear
- Spiny-Fruited Prickly Pear
- And More!
A plant like this will typically set you back only 15 to 25 dollars. They make exciting additions to any yard!
C. Flowering Cacti
Source: Home Depot
When people consider planting flowers in their gardens, cacti are rarely the first plant to come to mind. However, many types of cacti can produce vibrant and enchanting flowers that smell incredible.
Some cacti bloom most of the year, while others only bloom when the days are short. Some of the flowers open when the sun is down, while others open up in the bright of day. No matter which type of bloom your cactus produces, it is sure to be a delight.
The size and price of a flowering cactus depend on the size, maturity, and breed of the plant. You can get a pack of the cacti in the picture above for just 15 dollars.
D. Not Flowering
Source: Home Depot
Not all cacti types produce flowers. However, the lack of blooms does not mean it lacks beauty. You can find non-flowering cacti of all shades, with golden spikes, and in plenty of shapes. Each plant is unique and adds flavor to your garden or home.
Non-flowering cacti are particularly easy to care for, as well. Since you don’t have to worry about getting the flower to bloom, care is simple as can be. The spines hold water for long periods of time so that you can go a while without water.
The price and size of non-flowering cacti vary widely. Some can grow up to seven feet tall, while other stay at about six inches in height. The cost of these plants changes accordingly.
While many people associate cacti with the American southwest, these plants grow all over the world. If you are hoping to create a garden inspired by a certain part of the world, check out the types of cacti that come from around the world.
More than 12,000 plant species call Madagascar home. It’s honestly a unique island with beautiful flora to enjoy. Many of these plant species are unique to the country. In fact, 95 percent of plants that you can find in the Spiny desert are not native to any other place on Earth.
Some of the many unusual cacti and succulent from Madagascar include:
• Several types of aloe
• Long Spine
• Silver Dollar Jade
• Sweet Noor
• And other exotic plants
Some of these plant types produce fragrant, beautiful flowers. Others create aloe that you can use in home remedies. All of them add something special to your yard or indoor space.
In general, Madagascar cacti are quite forgiving. They can withstand lower temperatures than some other varieties of plants. However, you should bring them in if it gets too cold.
The prices on these plants range from under five dollars to over 20 dollars. Of course, the exact amount depends on the size and age of the plant, the retailer, and more.
Mexico is home to some of the most recognizable cacti in the world. In fact, the cactus has become integral to Mexican society and cuisine. The Organ Pipe cactus produces a sweet fruit that local wildlife relies on. Meanwhile, the local prickly pear varieties make a refreshing ingredient for any Mexican dish.
Whether you choose a Mexican cactus for style or sustenance, it is sure to impress. These plants enjoy dry, hot temperatures. That’s why it’s essential to plant any outdoor Mexican cacti in pots. You will want to bring them in if your temperatures fall too low.
In Mexico, you can find cacti in many different heights, shapes, colors, and sizes. Here are a few of the most popular Mexican plants to bring home:
- Organ Pipe
- Christmas Cactus
- And many more
Mexican cacti differ widely in price. Some six-inch plants may cost just over ten dollars while others are larger and cost up to 70 dollars.
5. United States
Source: Desert Museum
In the Southwest part of the United States, cacti are abundant. In fact, Arizona’s Saguaro National Park is named for the “King of the Cactus,” or the Saguaro cactus. This towering plant can grow over 60 feet tall and has several smaller branches coming off one giant column.
This giant cactus isn’t the only one that is native to the United States. Across the country, you can find types of tree-like Cereus, blooming hedgehog, prickly pear, and foxtail cacti. Each of these varies in size and shape. Some produce flowers, while other make tasty fruit.
Just as they differ in size, the American plants have a wide range of prices. Certain one-gallon plants can cost less than ten dollars while other ten-gallon cacti can set you back 70 dollars. It depends on how much you’re willing to spend and how large you want the plant to be when you get it.
6. South America
Source: Cactus King
South America is often known for its rainy climate and plentiful plants. That’s why many people are surprised to learn that some cacti also come from this continent. These beautiful cacti hail from South America:
- Pineapple Dyckia
- Copiapoa humilis
- Consolea elata
- Ball Cactus
Because these tend to come from countries with more humidity, you may need to use more water for these plants than for other cacti. However, they are still relatively low-maintenance.
D. Where to Buy
Have you decided to add a cactus to your collection? You can find great options at these retailers:
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to common questions about cacti.
Are cacti succulents?
Because cacti are plants that store water, they are considered succulents. The water is stored in the fleshy part of cacti, something that is a defining feature of succulents in general. Because of this, cacti are actually considered a sub-category under the umbrella of succulents. This does not mean that all succulents are cacti, though. Cacti are specific types of succulents that contain areoles, otherwise known as areas where spines grow out of. These are aspects of cacti that don’t appear in other succulents, making them unique in this way.
Are cacti trees?
No, but they have many aspects that mimic trees. Though there are some cacti that heavily resemble certain types of trees such as the Pereskia genus, cacti are not often considered to be trees. Many of the types of cacti that closely resemble trees are only referred to as treelike. The features that are often confused with defining them as trees are their leaves, bark and potential to grow into treelike shapes. However, to assume that a cacti is a tree because it looks like one is incorrect. Cacti are still considered part of the Cactaceae and are not considered trees by scientists.
Are cacti flowers?
Most cacti are not considered flowers, but certain species are known to have flowers growing out from them. For example, types of cacti such as the Echinopsis end up producing flowers that are quite beautiful, leading many to believe that cacti themselves are flowers. However, because cacti only are host to flowers, they are still considered plants. There are also a lot of cacti that don’t have any flowers, only growing spines, making this a problematic term to apply in a general sense. It’s worth noting, though, that cacti are often considered flowering plants, a term that is different than flowers themselves.
Are cacti ericaceous?
Cacti are not ericaceous because they are not considered part of the Ericaceae family. Instead, cacti are considered to be part of the Cactaceae family.
Are cacti plants?
Cacti are considered plants due to their status as succulents, a sub-category of plants.
Are cacti angiosperms?
Angiosperms is another way of referring to flowering plants, a category that cacti are a part of. The Cactaceae family is included under the category of angiosperms, putting cacti under this category as well.
Are cacti monocots?
No, they are not. This is because angiosperms are often considered dicots, flowering plants that have two seed leaves.
Are cacti vegetables?
Not all cacti are considered edible, therefore not all cacti can be considered vegetables. However, the species that are edible are considered vegetables (i.e. nopales, an edible type of cactus).
Can cacti die?
Though cacti are celebrated for being slow-growing, long-lasting plants, it is possible for them to die under harsh circumstances or clumsiness. The most common cause of cactus death is typically due to excessive amounts of moisture in the soil, often the result of overwatering. Because cacti often do not need as much water when compared to other flowering plants, it is easy to overestimate how much water they need. It is also possible for cacti to die from low temperatures, though some species are able to survive extremely low temperatures.
Can cacti grow in shade?
It depends on the specific species of cacti. Certain types of cacti will be able to grow in the shade while it is physically impossible for others to. There are also types of cacti that will grow towards whichever light is closest, causing their entire development to be centered around light despite growing up in the shade.
Can cacti survive winter?
Typically not. Most cacti are well-known for growing in hot, coastal areas, but there are also some species that can survive in colder areas. One of the unifying factors between all cacti, though, is that they often can’t tolerate winter moisture very well. For a majority of cacti, the lowest temperature they are able to survive at is freezing (~32 degrees Fahrenheit). In a general sense, though, the lowest temperature a cactus will be able to survive at depends greatly upon the species.
However, there are some cacti that can truly survive in sub-zero habitats. Examples of this include the Flowered Hedgehog Cactus, also known as Echinocereus viridiflorus. This cactus can survive temperatures as low as negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit, something unparalleled by many other species. Other types of cacti that can survive under conditions closer to zero degrees Fahrenheit include the Fishhook Barrel Cactus (also known as Ferocactus wislizeni) and the Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus (also known as Opuntia santa-rita).
Can cacti survive in low light?
Sort of. Though most species of cacti aren’t able to survive in low light, there are species such as Gasteria that are able to thrive in low light situations.
Can cacti grow in normal soil?
Yes, but cacti are often not able to remain sufficiently healthy if they are growing in normal soil. Instead, it’s important for cacti to have specially made soil that can give them the nutrients they need. Cacti potting soil is often sold at planting stores and other types of garden centers. These types of specially made soil contain large amounts of peat, an element that helps hold moisture and allows the cacti to absorb it properly. Due to cacti being succulents, it’s possible for them to hold onto water for long periods of time, making it necessary for the soil they live in to also hold water for long periods of time.
Can cacti grow indoors?
Yes, although for cacti to grow indoors it’s important for the atmosphere of outdoor scenarios to be replicated as much as possible. For someone who is growing a simple potted cacti in their own home, this often means exposing the plant to sun frequently. For more elaborate growing facilities, it is recommended that the cacti are grown in specific soil meant to replicate outside conditions (i.e. mixing sand and soil). Cacti that grow indoors also likely require special growing lights in order to replicate outdoor conditions as closely as possible.
Can cacti grow in sand?
Yes, although in the wild cacti most frequently grow in a mixture of sand and soil. Cacti are definitely comfortable growing around sand, as they are thought to be essential to the environmental makeup of deserts. The specific growing conditions for types of cacti largely depend on the specific genus, though.
Can cacti grow in a pot or container?
Yes, they can! In fact, cacti that grow in pots and containers are some of the most common cacti that people take on to raise. These types of cacti are very convenient for bringing home and incorporating into one’s apartment, making them great options for anyone looking to have a plant without having to seriously alter their routine to raise it. Because cacti are succulents, they don’t have to be watered frequently, making them even easier to take care of on a regular basis.
Can cacti burn?
Though cacti have the capacity to have their skin be sunburned, it is unlikely that they can light on fire. Because the cacti are mainly composed of water, it is difficult for them to actually catch fire.
Why do cacti have spines?
Spines on cacti result from their areoles, spots on the cacti that allow the growth of spines. In this context, spines are actually considered modified leaves. They have many different functions, but perhaps the most important is that the spines protect cacti against predators. However, this doesn’t mean that all cacti are made safe by their spines. For example, there are wild animals such as desert tortoises and pack rats that are able to eat cacti without the spines harming them.
The spines also help protect the surface of the plant by providing shade. Though you might not think that the spines are large enough to cover a cactus in any capacity, you have to consider that cacti often have thousands of spines with each one providing a little bit of protection. This all adds up to being quite significant, allowing the cactus to protect its skin from harsh weather conditions.
Why do cacti have long roots?
Cacti typically have shallow roots that are meant to stay relatively close to the surface of the ground. However, these roots can become larger, growing up to a few feet away from the plant. The reason why cacti have long roots is because they need to absorb as much water as possible, with the roots growing outward to cover as much territory in the event of rainfall.