When all else fails, buy a cactus, right? Even the biggest plant noob can take care of this hardy plant. Cacti are commonly found in dry, harsh desert environments, which makes them one of the very few plants that actually thrive on neglect. Thanks to its ability to store water, cacti can live for over a year without rain!
There's a Perfect Cactus for Everyone
Did you know that cacti are by far the most popular houseplants on Instagram? With almost 24 million cacti hashtags, the cactus easily takes the first spot on the list. No wonder, because they do not only great in your house or in a picture to post on your socials, they are also relatively easy to care for.
How to Take Care of Your Cacti
The cactus is a type of plant called a succulent. This means that it can store water in its stems, roots, and leaves. Even if it doesn’t rain for a long time, the cactus still has water saved up to help it grow. During the summer they prefer to be watered about once a week. During the winter, once a month should be enough. It’s best to let the soil dry (you can easily check this with your finger) before you give it a good drink of water. Just make sure you drain all the water so they won’t rot. Keep in mind that cacti absolutely love sunlight, so don't be afraid to give it a prominent place on your windowsill. Cacti come in a vast range of shapes and sizes (around 1750 known species!) from the petite to the grand, giving you a plethora of options that fit your personal taste. Because we obviously can't share them all, here are 7 cacti that will look great in your plant collection.
1. Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii)
Moon cacti are popular indoor plants known for their small size and vibrant colors. This type of cactus native to South America’s deserts in Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. A member of the Cactaceae family, this succulent plant is also known by the common names ruby ball cactus, star flowered cactus, and red cap. At maturity, the moon cactus is approximately one to two inches wide and has clusters of small, sharp spines.
As houseplants, moon cacti are typically mutants that do not produce chlorophyll, which is why they have such vivid colors—from hot pink to neon yellow. Like many species of cacti, the moon cactus does not require large amounts of water. Position your moon cactus near a window, but ensure that it only receives partial sunlight, as bright light can be damaging.
2. Bunny Ear Cactus (Opuntia Microdasys)
The bunny ear cactus is a popular houseplant that is not only attractive but is also low-maintenance. Native to Mexico, Opuntia microdasys is known by several common names including bunny ear cactus, angel’s wings cactus, and polka dot cactus. But don’t be fooled by these cute nicknames, while the bunny ear cactus might look less threatening than other cacti varieties with large and intimidating spikes, this cactus is just as prickly.
Each white “dot” on the surface of the bunny ear cactus is actually a glochid, which are patches of hundreds of small spines that can easily dislodge in the skin. Thus, take care when handling a bunny ear cactus, and use protective gloves if necessary.
3. Ladyfinger Cactus (Mammillaria Elongata)
Gold Lady Finger Cactus (Mammillaria elongata) is native to central New Mexico. it consists of densely packed clusters of elongated oval stems, covered in harmless yellow or brown spines, and in spring producing white or yellow flowers.
Perhaps called the Lady Finger Cactus because it resembles somebody flipping a bird? Which is not ladylike! Because their root systems are weak, they are especially prone to root rot, which will eventually kill your plant. Otherwise, they thrive on a program of strong, bright light; slight water; and a steady diet of light fertilizer.
4. Rat Tail Cactus (Aporocactus Flagelliformis)
Rat tail cactus is a trailing plant that sends out long stems with short, fine spines. The overall color of the plant is green when young but the stems age to an almost beige color. Flowers are rare but when they arrive they are a glorious bright pink to red hue.
The rat tail cactus displays best when grown in a hanging basket. Line the container with sphagnum moss or other organic material before filling it with a potting mixture. This plant is drought-tolerant and can survive long periods with little care. If you repot it annually and give it lots of nutrients, it should produce pleasant pink blooms in spring.
5. African Milk Tree (Euphorbia Trigona)
Euphorbia Trigona, or the African Milk Tree as it's commonly known, is a highly architectural and curious houseplant. Easy to look after, pest resistant and a fast grower means it makes the perfect specimen that adds interest to a sunny spot.
Like many in the Euphorbia genus, it's a mix between a cactus and a succulent plant but has traits familiar with both. The leaves have a teardrop shape and tend to be present for only short periods, a growing season or two. If you provide poor care, then the leaves will be the first to drop off. However even if you end up with a leafless stem, it's still a striking and handsome houseplant.
6. Fairy Castle Cactus (Acanthocereus Tetragonus)
The fairy castle cactus––also known by its scientific name Acanthocereus tetragonus––is a slow grower that can reach up to six feet tall. Other common names include night-blooming cereus, triangle cactus, and barbed-wire cactus. This columnar cactus plant is native to Central America, Mexico, northern South America, the Caribbean, and the southern United States. While the fairy castle cactus rarely blooms, it will sometimes produce large white or yellow flowers.
Fairy castle cacti kept as house plants should be grown in a space that receives lots of sunlight. If these plants do not receive enough light, the colors will fade and their columns will become misshapen. This is a full-sun plant, but it will survive in partial shade.
7. Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Buckleyi)
The Christmas cactus is a very popular houseplant—and for good reason! When they bloom, they produce colorful, tubular flowers in pink or lilac colors. Their beautiful flowers, long bloom time, and easy care requirements make them a wonderful plant. We’ll bet someone in your family has a Christmas cactus!
Don’t treat a Christmas cactus like it’s a run-of-the-mill cactus or succulent. They can’t take the same sort of sunny, dry conditions that other cacti can. It’s important to water these cacti more regularly than most succulents, but to also be cautious of keeping them too wet.