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What is a Cactus (KAK-tus) Cacti Plant?

Cacti are a type of succulent plant belonging to the family Cactaceae. They are the tough, cool kids of the plant world. They have unique shapes and textures, they boast stunning and showy flowers, and they can survive in extreme conditions while requiring very little care

Cacti are renowned for their unique and distinct characteristics that set them apart from other types of plants. Primarily found in arid and desert regions where water is scarce, they've developed remarkable adaptations. One of the most notable features of cacti is their ability to store water in their thick, fleshy stems. This allows them to survive extended periods of drought and excessive sunlight.

Appearance and Characteristics 

Cacti are succulent plants, meaning they store water in their tissues. This adaptation allows them to survive in arid environments with limited water availability. In many cactus species, leaves are modified into spines or scales. This adaptation reduces surface area, minimizing water loss through transpiration.

The stems of cacti come in various shapes, including columns, globes, cylinders, and pads. These unique shapes contribute to the aesthetic appeal of different cactus species.

Areoles are unique and distinctive structures found only on cacti. They are specialized structures from which spines, flowers, and new growth emerge. They are typically small, round, or oval-shaped structures on the cactus surface. Areoles are not randomly distributed but are arranged in specific patterns along the stems of the cactus. The arrangement and density of areoles are often used as identifying features for different cactus species.

Most cacti have spines, which are modified leaves or specialized structures that serve various purposes. Spines can provide shade, reduce water loss, and protect the cactus from herbivores.

Cacti exhibit diverse growth habits, ranging from low-growing ground cover types to tall, columnar forms. Some cacti, like epiphytic species, grow on other plants or structures. Cacti are adapted to store water in their stems, allowing them to survive in harsh, dry climates. Some cacti can swell when water-storing tissues are full and shrink during periods of drought.

Cacti come in a range of sizes, from small, desktop varieties to large landscape specimens. This variety makes them suitable for different indoor and outdoor settings. 

Cactus Plants as a Perfect Gift and Decor Element

Cacti have achieved a special place in the houseplant stardom and have made their mark in popular culture, becoming recognizable symbols in art, fashion, and design. Cacti's minimalistic aesthetic aligns seamlessly with contemporary interior design trends. Their distinctive shapes have been incorporated into clothing prints, jewelry designs, and home decor items. This cultural integration has contributed to their iconic status.

Cacti are often associated with resilience, endurance, and strength. Gifting cactus plants can convey positive and meaningful sentiments, making them thoughtful and meaningful gifts for any occasion, whether it's a birthday, housewarming, or celebration. 

Is Cactus a Succulent?

Succulents are a group of plant families that store water in their stems, leaves, and roots. Cacti store water in their stems, which makes them a sub-category or a genus within the succulent groups of plant families. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti. 

Botanical Name Cactaceae
Common Name Cactus, desert cactus, forest cactus
Plant Type Succulents 
Mature Size Varies depending on the variety
Sun Exposure For some direct sun; quantity varies depending on the variety
Soil Type Well-draining sandy soil
Soil pH 5.5 to 7
Bloom Time Varies
Flower Color Varies

 

Cacti vs Succulents

One of the key differences between cacti and other succulent plants is their unique structure. Cacti have specialized structures called areoles, which are small, round, cushion-like areas on the surface of the plant where spines, branches, and flowers emerge. Areoles are unique to cacti and are not found in other succulent plants.

Another key difference between cacti and other succulent plants is their method of photosynthesis. Most plants perform photosynthesis through their leaves, but cacti have evolved a unique form of photosynthesis that takes place in their stems. This allows cacti to conserve water and survive in extremely arid environments.

Cacti are also known for their spines, which serve a number of important functions. Spines protect the plant from predators and help to reduce water loss by shading the plant from the sun and reducing airflow around the plant.

Despite their differences, cacti and other succulent plants share many similarities. Both types of plants are adapted to arid environments and are able to store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. They both have fleshy, thick leaves that allow them to survive in dry conditions, and they both have a unique ability to close their stomata during the hottest parts of the day to reduce water loss.

Cactus Flowers

One of the most alluring aspects of cacti is their breathtaking blooms. These strikingly beautiful and vibrant flowers come in a dazzling array of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them perfect subjects for photography and many types of art. They have been the inspirations for artists and nature lovers alike for centuries. The value of cactus flowers lies not only in their visual charm but also in their short-lived nature, with some blooms appearing only for a very short time, and some only blooms during nighttime. Cacti also need several conditions in their living environments to successfully produce flowers. See more about our article on How to make cactus bloom.

What Cactus Can Be Grown Indoors?

In general, most cacti sold as houseplants can be grown indoors when you follow the correct care guide. Cacti are generally low-maintenance and require minimal care, so they are perfect plants for our modern, busy life. They can tolerate occasional neglect, making them ideal for beginners and individuals who may not have the time for intensive plant care. The best indoor cacti can adapt to a variety of light conditions found in homes, such as south-facing windows or well-lit indoor spaces. Some can even tolerate lower light levels. Here are some of the most popular indoor cacti:

- Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera spp.): This cactus has colorful, pendulous flowers that typically bloom around the winter holidays. It has flat, segmented stems.

- Easter Lily Cactus (Echinopsis spp.): It has large, showy flowers that bloom in various colors. It has a compact growth habit and is well-suited for indoor containers.

- Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii):  Small cactus with colorful, grafted tops. It's visually appealing and doesn't require much space.

- Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys): Features flattened pads resembling bunny ears and tiny spines, making it safer to handle.

- Fishbone Cactus (Epiphyllum anguliger): Epiphytic cactus with zigzag-shaped stems resembling fishbones. It produces night-blooming flowers.

- Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii): These plants are suitable for indoor growth. Barrel cacti have a distinctive round shape and spines radiating from the center.

 

How to take care of Cactus Succulents?

Cactus Care Guide for Beginners 

1. Light Requirements

Desert cacti require intense light, especially in the winter. They'd do well with 6+ hours of sunlight every day. However, they could get sunburned if exposed to intense heat.

Forest cacti like bright indirect light. You could move them outside during their growth season (in the summer). But they also don't tolerate high heat well, so make sure they don't get scorched outside in the summer.

2. The best potting soil mix

Use a fast-draining soil mix for your cactus. You can use a ready-made cactus soil mix or make a basic soil mix with a ratio of 1:1 potting soil & inorganic matter (e.g. perlite).

3. How often should you water a cactus?

During growing seasons (spring & summer) water your desert cacti whenever the soil is completely dry. Give them a good thorough soaking each time you water them. During the dormant season (winter) cease watering, only water them if the plants begin to shrivel. 

You can water your forest cacti a bit more during the growth period and reduce watering during the dormant period.

How To Make Cactus Bloom

Understanding the requirements of cacti’s natural habitat will help us to mimic similar conditions to encourage blooming indoors. In some cases, cacti may require certain stressors from their environments to initiate blooming. Stress-induced blooming is a survival mechanism that prompts the cactus to reproduce when it perceives challenging conditions or unfavorable circumstances in its environment

  1. Select Suitable Cacti: Choose cactus species known to adapt well to indoor conditions and have a higher likelihood of blooming indoors. Some popular indoor blooming cacti include Easter Lily Cactus (Echinopsis spp.) and Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera spp.).
  2. Light Intensity: Place your indoor cactus near a south-facing window to provide the brightest light possible. Cacti require ample sunlight to trigger blooming. If natural light is limited, consider using supplemental grow lights designed for plants, ensuring they provide the right spectrum and intensity needed for flowering.
  3. Temperature Fluctuations: Some cacti, especially those native to regions with distinct seasonal changes, may require a shift between cooler nighttime temperatures and warmer daytime temperatures to stimulate flowering. Replicating these temperature fluctuations indoors or in a greenhouse can trigger blooming in such species. Try to replicate natural temperature fluctuations by providing slightly cooler nighttime temperatures (around 50-55°F) and warmer daytime temperatures (around 70-85°F). Avoid placing cacti near heating or cooling vents, as extreme temperature changes can hinder flowering.
  4. Daylight Duration: Some cacti are photoperiodic, requiring specific day-length conditions to initiate blooming. To mimic seasonal changes, you can use blackout curtains or artificial lighting to regulate the duration of light exposure, helping trigger flowering.
  5. Water Stress:Periods of reduced watering or drought-like conditions can be a stressor that prompts certain cacti to bloom. In their native arid environments, cacti often experience periods of limited water availability, and flowering during these times allows them to reproduce before harsh conditions set in.
  6. Seasonal Changes:Cacti that are adapted to specific seasons may require seasonal changes to trigger flowering. Replicating seasonal changes, such as changes in daylight hours, temperature, and humidity, can encourage blooming in these species.

Remember that each cactus species has its unique blooming requirements, and some may naturally bloom more readily than others. 

Great Tips For Cactus Growth

1. Cactus Propagation

Increasing your cactus collection without spending a single penny is simple. Even beginners will be able to perform it easily through cuttings, offset, or pad propagation, and it gets much easier with practice. And through this article, you will learn all the tricks you need to know, which will prepare you to start propagating your cacti in many ways to your heart's content.

2. Growing Cactus Indoor

Cacti are low-maintenance plants that don't need much attention compared to other plants, making them ideal for novice gardeners and a wonderful housewarming gift. Plus, they can also be fantastic indoor houseplants. However, there are certain factors to be considered in order for them to thrive. So, if you want to grow your cactus collection inside your home, here are the things that you should know.

Please see more Cactus Care Guide 101 to ensure years of enjoyment and How to save dying cacti to identify what’s causing your cactus to die and be able to save it before it’s too late.

3. How to graft a cactus?

Nowadays, grafted cacti are becoming more and more popular, especially in garden centers. They are cute, weird, and completely irresistible. But what exactly is grafting and why do you need to do it? Read here to find out and as well as learn how to graft them.

Watch the video below to learn more about Types of Cactus Succulents!!

At Succulents Box, we have a wide selection of plants from the most popular and sought-after genera with many types of cacti. If you are looking for where to buy Cacti, you’ve come to the right place. We have some of the healthiest and most beautiful live cactus plants for sale, all lovingly nurtured in our own California-based nursery. Whether you have a specific succulent in mind or are open to discovering new favorites, our curated collection is designed to cater to all tastes. 

Explore and buy cactus plants online with ease through Succulents Box, your trusted source for cacti excellence!