Welcome to our cacti database where we list many different types of the cacti species.
Each listing includes an image and key growing information.
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Database: Types of Cactus with Names
To take a look at each cactus species, just click on the link or the images in the table below. We’ve arranged the list in alphabetical order, but you should keep in mind that in some cases there might be other names to go by. For example the star cactus is known as Astrophytum asterias.
Feel free to use this as a cactus identification chart.
Different Types of Cacti
As you can see from the extensive list above, there are a lot of different types of cacti. However, it is important to take note of some of the more generic cactus names you might come across which include:
- Ladyfinger Cactus
- Old Lady Cactus
- Rat Tail Cactus
- Cholla Cactus
- Totem Pole Cactus
- Feather Cactus
- Star Cactus
- Moon Cactus
There are other types, such as Prickly Pear, that refer to a family of cacti rather than an individual plant. But for the purposes of this list it makes sense to identify individual plants and cacti species.
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, there 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 where the cactus species comes from.
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 cactus species that thrives in that sort of environment.
1. Christmas Cactus
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 plant 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.
2. Easter Cactus
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, the 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 likes 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.
3. Desert Types
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 types of cactus 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.
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.
As with indoor cacti, you have few limits when it comes to outdoor cactus types. These types of cactus plants can be grouped into the different shapes in which they come. For a genuinely alluring landscape, you can combine each of these styles.
1. Barrel Cacti
Barrel (or globular) cacti look like, well, a barrel. These plants can grow up to three feet tall, but some cactus varieties stay smaller than that.
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
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. A few of these can add great depth and texture to your outdoor garden.
3. Prickly Pear Cactus
The third basic shape of outdoor cacti is the prickly pear or Opuntia genus. Rather than one of two columns or barrels, these types of cactus 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
When people consider flowering plant varieties for 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.
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 character 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.
Life Cycle of Saguaro Cactus
While many people associate cacti with the American Southwest, the plants grow all over the world. If you are considering creating a garden inspired by a certain part of the world, check out these types of cacti:
More than 12,000 plant species call Madagascar home. Many of the plant species are unique to the island. In fact, 95% of plants in the Spiny Forest are not found anywhere else on Earth.
Some of the many unusual cacti and succulents include:
• Several types of aloe
• Long Spine
• Silver Dollar Jade
• Sweet Noor
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.
Mexico is home to some of the most recognizable cacti in the world. In fact, the cactus has become a symbolic icon of Mexican culture and cuisine. The Organ Pipe cactus produces a sweet fruit that local wildlife relies on. Meanwhile, the local prickly pear cactus 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
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 with 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.
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.
Best Type of Cactus for Various Purposes
Growing Indoors: Angel Wings Cactus (Opunta albispina)
The Angle Wings Cactus is a member of the Prickly Pear Family that is native to Mexico. This unique cactus has clusters of hairs on pads instead of the more traditional cactus’ sharp spines. The Angel Wings Cactus grows upwards of two feet in height and as wide as five feet.
Angel Wings Cactus can be kept smaller with proper pruning. This cactus prefers a full day of sun and offers blooms of pale yellow and then edible red fruit. It is essential to maintain moist soil but never over soak the cactus.
Outdoor Landscaping: Beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris)
The Beavertail Cactus is another member of the Prickly Pear Family. The Beavertail spreads outward as it grows.
It has wide, flat pads that resemble that of a beaver’s tail. The Beavertail Cactus has a myriad of colors, including blue, gray and green. The plant produces bright pink flowers (with a watermelon aroma) during the early part of the summer.
This cactus variety is low maintenance and needs very little water (and is considered drought tolerant). The Beavertail Cactus requires full sun and grows to about a foot tall and four feet in width.
The plant can get root rot if over-watered, so plan on watering it every two to three weeks in warmer months and even less in the winter.
Outdoor Pots: Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)
Candelilla is a variety of euphorbia, which is a large plant genus that includes succulents that love the sun. The Candelilla Cactus is native to southern Texas and parts of Mexico. This cactus is unusual as it is densely clustered with leafless stems that are wax covered.
The wax from this cactus has been used for many consumer purposes — from medicine to food and cosmetics.
This is a great cactus type for an outdoor plant, especially in arid climates, because it needs little water, is pest-resistant, cold tolerant, and can survive with reflected light rather than direct sunlight.
Cold Weather: Clarent Cup Cactus (Echinocereus triglochidiatus)
The Clarent Cup Cactus is a member of the Hedgehog Cactus family and Colorado’s official state cactus. The Clarent Cup Cactus is native to the American southwest and northern Mexico.
This cactus variety grows in various environments, from rocky mountain slopes to low deserts and mountain woodlands.
The Clarent Cup Cactus offers showy red, funnel-shaped flowers, which are pollinated by hummingbirds. This cactus can withstand temperatures that drop well below freezing.
Grafting: Britton And Rose Cactus (Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii)
Grafting a cactus is a technique where a piece (or the entire cactus) is attached to another cactus’s wounded part. Together they create one cactus plant. The wounded piece receives nutrients from the other cactus (known as the rootstock), which helps it grow.
The Britton and Rose Cactus, native to South America, is a popular cactus used for grafting. These cacti grow in lower elevations in Argentina, and Paraguay and were first discovered in 1903.
Beginners: Star Cactus (Astrophytum asteria)
The Star Cactus is a favorite variety for novice gardeners because they are easy to grow and care for. It has a chubby body that is round without spines, which adds an interesting note to any garden or room.
The Star Cactus, which is also called the Sand Dollar or Sea Urchin Cactus, has a striking resemblance to the Peyote Cactus Plant.
This variety of cactus can grow up to six inches across. It tends to be greenish to gray-brown with small white points along its ridges.
The body of the Star Cactus consists of eight sections covered in fine hairs. The flower, which is yellow with an orange center, blooms any time between March to May.
Low Light: Scarlet Ball Cactus (Echinocactus haselbergii)
The Scarlet Ball Cactus is a member of the Cactaceae family and is native to Brazil. This fast-growing cactus variety grows in altitudes from 200 to 1,500 meters above sea level across habitats that include plains, grasslands, and rocky areas.
The Scarlet Ball Cactus is a favorite variety because they are easily potted and can grow in full sun or semi-shade areas. The orange to reddish flowers grow off spherical shapes covered in dense spines.
Where to Buy Cacti Online
If you are ready to purchase some cacti for indoor or outdoor planting, there are a few places where you can purchase them online. Below are some of the best options for cacti purchases.
One of the retailers specializing specifically in cacti is Planet Desert. They have over 280 different types of indoor and outdoor plants posted on their website.
If you aren’t sure what you are looking for, you can scroll through the different options to check on the growth, care, and details about each variety.
If you are looking to make a large cacti purchase, you may want to check out Succulent Market first before placing your order. Once you purchase $65 or more, you do not have to worry about shipping costs.
They have just over 100 different types of succulent plants and cacti available for you to choose from. They also offer them in larger sizes, which is great since many of the other retailers online do not.
A third reputable retailer for online cacti purchases is Bloomscape. They are probably one of the oldest in the industry, with nearly 50 years of working with cacti and other succulent plants.
All of the plants are grown in greenhouse conditions and only shipped if they are healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 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. 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. Ericaceae plants prefer more acidic soil. Cacti are 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.
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. 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.
Santa Rita Prickly Pear Cactus with yellow flowers in Tucson, Arizona.
Can cacti survive winter?
Typically not. Most cacti are 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 depends greatly upon the species.
However, there are some cacti that can 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 a 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! 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.
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 safe.
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 that they need to absorb as much water as possible, with the roots growing outward to cover as much territory in the event of rainfall.
How fast do cacti grow?
Cacti grow much slower than a lot of other plants. In the first couple of years, they may not grow much more than a few inches. From that point, you will start to see them grow anywhere from one to two inches annually. Only a few cacti types will exceed this growth rate.
When should you repot cacti?
Cacti do need to be repotted periodically like other plants. If you start noticing the roots hanging from the pot, then it is time to create more space for the plant. Another good rule is to repot them once annually so that your cacti have access to fresh minerals and soil.
Do cacti have leaves?
If you are looking for leaves on your cacti plants, you may be looking for a while. Cacti do not have leaves, but instead spines and stems that are found in most succulent plants.
Can you propagate cacti? If so, how?
If you want to propagate cacti from a different plant, all you need to do is take a cutting of the cacti. It is best to cut below where it starts to branch out and then root it in some water for a week or two. When you see new roots plant the cacti in individual pots.
How do cacti store water?
Cacti are different from most plants because of their water storage ability. The cells in the stems of the cacti have the ability to grab and hold water.
The water is used sparingly and as needed to prolong the life of the cactus. This is why they are able to survive in drier areas, as they ration the water they need for survival.
Do cacti need special soil?
If you want to give your cacti the best environment for them to grow, they need to have the right soil in their pot. Because they are native to the desert, sand and pebbles in their soil are common and a great addition.
Do cacti make oxygen?
If you need to improve the oxygen of a room or area, then adding cacti is a great idea. At night, the cactus plant releases all of the carbon dioxide that has been absorbed through the day as oxygen.
What’s the hottest temperature that cacti can survive?
Cacti have a strong ability to withstand hot temperatures. All of the deserts where they are native see some of the highest temperatures each year.
On average, they are most comfortable in areas that are between 85 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit, regularly. As long as your cacti have dried out some before the temperatures reach the 100s, they are able to withstand days of extreme heat.
Do cacti need light to grow?
While they can handle some shade, cacti cannot reach their full potential unless they have a steady light source. If they are outside, make sure they have direct sunlight throughout the day.
If you plan to leave your potted cacti inside, place them by a window with direct sunlight from one or more directions.
Do cacti make seeds?
Now that your cactus plant is starting to grow, you may be wondering where your seeds are. When your cactus blooms, the seeds are located in the center of the flower. Once it starts to fade away, you can pluck it and remove the seeds.