What Are The Different Types Of Cactus? Why Are They Superheroes In The Plant World?

by Lynn KirkJun 2, 2021

different types of cactus


Types of Cactus

Cacti run the gamut in terms of their distinctive shapes, textures, and sizes. Three of the most recognizable shapes are:

  1. Round barrels with precise rows of prickly spines encircling the whole
  2. Elongated columns that typically stand short, yet ever-so-straight
  3. Jointed limbs that erratically reach outward and skyward.

As for their textures, some cacti are smooth and waxy, while others ribbed and bumpy. Juxtaposing contrasting textures makes for an interesting garden (as does tucking in a few non-cactus succulents!). And when it comes to size, some cactus varieties can grow as tall as trees, while others are content to stay small and compact. With thousands of known species, your options are practically endless! 

So how do you decide which to include in your garden? Here's a good place to start -- check out these full-color photos!


Cactus Garden: Indoors or Out?

Fortunately, you can enjoy the rugged beauty and character of different kinds of cactus without traveling to Arizona or an Amazon rainforest.

If you live in Zones 7 through 10, an outdoor cactus garden might be possible, depending on the conditions and cactus variety . . . but talk to an expert first! Raised beds work well for selecting the site, controlling the drainage, and using special cactus soil.

If you live in other plant zones, there's still hope! Make your own indoor oasis. It guarantees year-round beauty and enjoyment without ever leaving home.

Growing Conditions and Care

The specific growing needs of each cactus variety can vary, so be sure to do your homework before you buy.

  • Epiphytic cacti grow on other plant "hosts," not soilIn natural conditions, they also prefer shade, like high in a tree under the leaf-canopy's shadows. No wonder that they care not for bright afternoon sun. They make interesting additions to residential greenhouses, for sure!
  • Desert cacti are the ones that welcome sun, sun, and more sun. They’re tough, hardy, and yep, hard to kill. Perfect for beginner gardeners! Tip: Too much water may do the greatest harm, so check out this blog on cactus watering.


So Why Are Cacti Superheroes in the Plant World?

Cacti are AMAZING plants for reasons more than their oh-so-distinct appearance.

  • Temperature extremes: Some types of cactus can survive scorching heat that registers 100+ degrees by day, followed by freezing temperatures overnight.
  • Intermittent drought: Since succulents, cacti are somewhat self-sufficient—and definitely efficient—when it comes to water. Their fleshy stems store available water for future use, plus they respond quickly to intake any sporadic rainfall that happens to occur.
  • Adaptations: Some cacti also have another incredible survival technique: the ability to adapt to specific climates when needed.
  • Flower array: And though the different types of cactus seem tough and condescending with all their "spiny attire," cacti produce some of nature’s most dazzling flowers -- multi-colored, multi-petaled, and multi-magnificent!


Quality Matters

Succulent Market is one of only a few cactus growers in the United States. When you place your order, farm-fresh cacti ship that same day. Added bonus: Succulent Market does not purchase from other retailers or import cacti from other countries for resale. All cacti are nurtured on site by fourth-generation growers.

Order your cacti collection today, and you’ll understand why Succulent Market is America's preferred cacti retailer!