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The 20 Best Cactus Plants For Your Garden

Cactus are a great addition to any garden, especially where the climate is warm and dry. They are low-maintenance and come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making them perfect for garden pots. 

In this blog post, we'll introduce you to the 20 best cactus plants for your garden, along with the reasons why each suggestion is a good option. With options such as the Saguaro cactus to the Old Lady Cactus, there are so many cactus species out there.

 

Golden Barrel Cactus

Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

At the top of the 20 best cactus plants for your garden is the Golden Barrel Cactus. It is a striking and low-maintenance cactus plant that's perfect for garden pots. It's native to Mexico and has a distinctive round shape that makes it a great focal point in any garden. This slow grower requires direct sunlight and is not one of the indoor cactus types.

 

Bunning Ears Cactus in garden pot

Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)

The Bunny Ears Cactus is cute cactus, low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, making it ideal for hot and dry climates. The Bunny Ears Cactus is best grown in full sun and well-draining soil, and it's important to protect The Bunny Ears Cactus from frost in winter. This cactus has become exceptionally popular for indoor growing in recent years, which is why it is one of our best cactus plants for your garden.

Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus)

The Barrel Cactus is also low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, making it ideal for the West Coast's more hot and dry climates. This cactus is best grown in full sun and well-draining soil, and it's important to protect it from frost in winter.

 

A Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)

The Saguaro is also drought-tolerant, making it ideal for hot and dry climates. This cactus is best grown in full sun and well-draining soil, and it's important to protect it from frost in winter. Although slow growing, the Saguarao Cactus is a great choice for the best cactus plants to make a statement.

 

Flowering Christmas Cactus

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

The Christmas Cactus is a popular and low-maintenance cactus species that's a perfect fit to be in the 20 best cactus plants for your garden and pot growing. The Christmas Cactus is native to Brazil and has long, flat leaves that are covered in soft, hair-like strands. 

The Christmas Cactus blooms in winter, producing delicate flowers in shades of pink, red, and white. This is also a popular indoor cactus. After the flowers have bloomed you will notice small edible fruits.

 

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica)

This cactus is native to Mexico and has flat, paddle-like leaves covered in spines, an example typical of desert plants and deserves to have a place in the 20 best cactus plants for your garden. It produces sweet fruit that is edible and often used in Mexican cuisine. Please note that this cactus can be considered a pest in some areas so always do your research before purchasing and planting.

 

An Old Man Cactus Species

Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis)

Another large statement cactus hitting the 20 best cactus plants for your garden. This cactus is native to Mexico and has long, white hairs covering its columnar shape. It can grow up to 16 feet tall and produces large, white flowers. Don’t confuse this indoor cactus for the Lady Cactus. 

 

Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria)

This cactus is native to Mexico and has small, round bodies covered in spines. It produces colourful flowers in shades of pink, yellow, and red.

 

Fishbone Cacti

Fishbone Cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger)

This cactus is native to Central and South America and has long, flat leaves that resemble fishbones. It produces fragrant flowers in shades of pink, white, and yellow making this one of the more unique in our list of the 20 best cactus plants for your garden.

 

Large Torch Cactus

Torch Cactus (Echinopsis)

Another of the best cactus plants for your garden, this cactus is native to South America and has cylindrical, ribbed bodies covered in spines. It produces large, colorful flowers in shades of pink, red, and white.‍

Organ Pipe Cactus (Stenocereus thurberi)

This cactus is native to the Sonoran Desert and has tall, columnar shapes with many arms. It produces large, white flowers that open at night.

Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii)

Making it onto the 20 best cactus plants for your garden is this cactus is native to Argentina and has small, round bodies in shades of pink, orange, and yellow. The Moon Cactus is often grafted onto other cacti to create a unique look. The Moon Cactus is a truly stunning member of the cactus family. 

 

Rats Tail Cactus

Rat Tail Cactus (Aporocactus flagelliformis)

The rat tail cactus is native to Mexico and has long, hanging stems that resemble rat tails. This member of the cacti species produces colorful flowers in shades of pink and red. The Rat Tail Cactus' cascading structure, makes it an excellent option for indoor and outdoor hanging pots and our choice of the best cactus plants.

 

A group of Chin Cacti

Chin Cactus (Gymnocalycium baldianum)

This cactus is native to Argentina and has small, round bodies covered in sharp spines. It produces flowers in shades of pink, red, and white. The Chin Cactus makes for an excellent indoor cactus as well as being one of the 20 best cactus plants for your garden.

 

Crown Cactus

Crown Cactus (Rebutia)

This cactus is native to South America and has small, round bodies covered in spines. It produces flowers in shades of pink, red, and orange.

 

Peanut Cactus

Peanut Cactus (Chamaecereus silvestrii)

This cactus is native to Argentina and has small, cylindrical bodies covered in spines. It produces flowers in shades of pink and red.

 

Brain Cactus

Brain Cactus (Mammillaria elongata cristata)

This cactus is native to the Sonoran Desert in Mexico and has a unique, crested shape resembling a brain. It produces flowers in shades of pink, red, and yellow. This uniquely formed cactus definitely makes it onto the 20 best cactus plants for your garden, both indoors and outdoors.

 

Hedgehog Cactus

Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus)

This cactus is native to North and Central America and has small, cylindrical bodies covered in spines. It produces colorful flowers in shades of pink, red, and yellow.

Bishop's Cap Cactus (Astrophytum ornatum)

This cactus is native to Mexico and has a unique, star-shaped body covered in spines. It produces flowers in shades of yellow and white.

Blue Candle Cactus (Pilosocereus)

Concluding the 20 best cactus plants for your garden, this cactus is native to South America and has a tall, columnar shape with blue-green skin. It produces small, white flowers.

In conclusion, these are the 20 best cactus plants for your garden.

 

Large prickly pear cactus in the desert

Here are some tips for caring for cactus in garden pots:

Choose the Right Soil

Now that you have your list of the 20 best cactus plants for your garden, let's start with care and maintenance. Cacti require well-draining soil that's low in organic matter. This helps prevent water logging and root rot, which can be fatal for cacti. You can use a commercial cactus mix or make your own by mixing equal parts of sand, perlite, and potting soil. 

Avoid using regular garden soil, which tends to retain too much moisture and can suffocate the roots.

Water Carefully

Cacti are adapted to arid climates and are tolerant of drought. However, they still need water to survive and thrive. The key is to water them carefully and avoid overwatering. In general, it's best to water cacti deeply but infrequently. 

Wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again, and make sure to water the soil, not the plant itself, to avoid causing rot. During the winter months, cacti require less water and can be allowed to dry out completely between waterings.

Provide Adequate Light

Cacti require plenty of bright, direct sunlight to grow and thrive. In general, they need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day, although some varieties may require more or less. 

Place your cactus pots in a sunny spot, such as a south-facing window or outdoors in a spot that receives full sun. If you're growing cacti indoors, you may need to supplement with artificial lighting to provide enough light. You may need to periodically move your indoor cactus plant around.

 

A Saguaro cactus in the desert

Protect from Frost

While cacti are adapted to warm, arid climates, some varieties can be damaged by frost. If you live in an area that experiences frost, it's important to protect your cactus plants by bringing them indoors or covering them with frost cloth. 

Some cacti are more cold-tolerant than others, so it's important to research the specific growing requirements for each variety.

FERTILIZE Sparingly

Cacti don't require a lot of fertilizer, but they do benefit from occasional feeding during the growing season. Use a balanced cactus fertilizer, or a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content to promote flowering. 

It's best to fertilize sparingly, as too much fertilizer can cause damage to the roots. In general, it's best to fertilize cacti once every 4-6 weeks during the growing season, and avoid fertilizing during the fall and winter months.

Choose the Right Pot Size

Cacti, including indoor cactus, prefer to be slightly root-bound, which means they don't need a lot of space to grow. However, it's important to choose the right pot size for your cactus to ensure it has enough room to grow and thrive. 

A pot that's too small can lead to overcrowding and poor growth, while a pot that's too large can cause the soil to retain too much moisture, which can lead to root rot. 

As a general rule, choose a pot that's only slightly larger than the root ball of your cactus, and make sure it has drainage holes to allow excess water to escape.

Our recommendations for the best cacti for garden pots are in this blog.

 

Spikey golden barrel cactus

Watch for Pests and Diseases

Cacti are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but they can still be susceptible to certain problems. Watch for signs of mealybugs, spider mites, or scale insects, which can be removed with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. 

Cactus can also be susceptible to fungal diseases, especially if they are overwatered or planted in soil that retains too much moisture. 

If you notice any signs of pests or diseases, take action quickly to prevent them from spreading.

Prune as Needed

Cactus don't require a lot of pruning, but they may need to be trimmed occasionally to remove dead or damaged growth, or to shape the plant as desired. It's a good idea to cut the spikes off indoor cactus to avoid kids getting injured.

Use clean, sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts and avoid damaging the plant. Be careful when handling cacti, as they can be prickly and difficult to maneuver.

Provide Good Air Circulation

Cactus require good air circulation to prevent fungal growth and to promote healthy growth. Make sure to space your cactus at least a few inches apart to allow air to circulate freely around them. 

You can also use a fan to improve air circulation, especially if you're growing cacti indoors.

 

Close up of a native cactus to Mexico

Repot as Needed

Cactus may need to be repotted every few years, especially if they have outgrown their current pot or if the soil has become depleted. 

To repot a cactus, carefully remove it from its current pot, gently shake off any excess soil, and plant it in a new pot with fresh soil. Water the cactus sparingly for the first few weeks after repotting to allow it to adjust to its new environment.

In conclusion, caring for cactus in garden pots requires some attention to detail, but it's not difficult once you know what to do. 

By choosing the right soil, watering carefully, providing adequate light, protecting from frost, and fertilizing sparingly, you can help your cacti thrive and flourish in your garden pots. 

With a little bit of care and attention, you can enjoy the unique and striking beauty of cactus plants in your home or garden.

Here are some common Cactus questions:

What is the greatest cactus?

The 40 foot high Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea). The tallest saguaro cactus was measured at 76 feet.

What is the most rarest cactus?

In the wild, the only cactus that is rarer is the Knowlton Mini Cactus (Pediocactus knowltonii), according to some sources. These pink-footed, tiny plants are threatened because collectors over-use them and are only found in New Mexico and Colorado, U.S. 

What is the easiest cactus to grow?

Orchid cactus. These beautiful flowering varieties are the best types to grow and also make great indoor cactus. Its leaves have beautiful colors and it can grow to ten feet with sufficient room and suitable conditions.

What is the most popular type of cactus?

Round-shaped succulent cactus: most commonly known as Echinocactus grusoniis. Aside from a column-style shape for Cereus another type of Cycaca has a round shape. Among the globe-like cactus, the echinocactus are popular and represented and notably echinocactus grusonii.

 

Cactus foliage close up

Here are some common Cactus maintenance tips:

One of the most common questions about cacti is how often they should be watered. Cacti are adapted to arid climates and are tolerant of drought, so they don't need to be watered as often as other plants. In general, it's best to wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again, which can range from once a week to once a month depending on the growing conditions and the specific variety of cactus. 

Overwatering is one of the biggest threats to cactus, and amateur gardeners often worry about how to tell if their cactus is getting too much water. Signs of overwatering can include yellowing or mushy leaves, a soft or squishy stem, or a foul odor coming from the soil. If you suspect that your cactus is getting too much water, it's best to stop watering immediately and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.

 

mass-planted cactus

 

Cacti don't require a lot of fertilizer, but they do benefit from occasional feeding during the growing season. Use a balanced cactus fertilizer or a fertilizer with a higher phosphorus content to promote flowering. It's best to fertilize sparingly, as too much fertilizer can cause damage to the roots. In general, it's best to fertilize cacti once every 4-6 weeks during the growing season and avoid fertilizing during the winter months.

 

lots of cacti in nursery pots

 

Transplanting cactus can be a tricky process, and amateur gardeners often have questions about how to do it properly. To transplant a cactus, carefully remove it from its current pot, gently shake off any excess soil, and plant it in a new pot with fresh soil. It's important to use gloves and avoid handling the cactus with bare hands, as they can be prickly and difficult to manoeuvre.

 

Three cactus in terracotta garden pots

 

While cactus plants are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, they can still be susceptible to certain problems. Watch for signs of mealybugs, spider mites, or scale insects, which can be removed with a solution of rubbing alcohol and water. Indoor cactus can also be susceptible to fungal diseases, especially if they are overwatered or planted in soil that retains too much moisture. If you notice any signs of pests or diseases, take action quickly to prevent them from spreading.

 

Close up of cowboy cactus foliage

 

During the fall and winter months, cactus plants should be watered sparingly and kept in a cool, dry location.

If your cactus is getting too much sun, you can move it to a shadier location or use a shade cloth to filter the sunlight.

Use clean, sharp pruning shears to remove dead or damaged growth, or to shape the plant as desired.

To prevent your cactus from getting too tall and leggy, make sure it's getting enough light and water.

To repot a spiny or difficult-to-handle cactus, use a pair of tongs or thick gloves to carefully remove it from its pot and transfer it to a new pot.

If you live in a cold climate, you may need to protect your cactus from frost by covering it with a blanket or using a frost cloth.

 

Furry cactus against pink background

 

To propagate your cactus by offsets, gently remove the offset from the main plant and plant it in a pot with fresh soil.

You can ensure that your feather cactus is getting enough nutrients by fertilizing it sparingly during the growing season and using a well-draining soil mix.

To prevent your cactus from becoming overcrowded, make sure to choose the right pot size and space your cactus plants at least a few inches apart to allow air to circulate freely around them.

For more on the best cactus plants for drought-tolerant gardens, check out our choice of 7 Low-Maintenance Succulents for Growing Indoors!

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