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Did you know there are more than 2,000 varieties of cactus, which come in almost as many unique shapes and sizes? It’s a massive range of choices, so we suggest you take your time finding one you can live with. Just in case you were wondering why you should consider owning a cactus, here are five reasons why we think they will make a great addition to your garden.
Recommended Reading: Master Cactus Propagation: Grow Cacti from Scratch!
Reasons to Own a Cactus #1: They’re Different
If you’ve been looking for a plant that will stand out as a great centerpiece in your home or garden, then you can’t go past the variety of shapes, textures, and colors available in the cactus family. Each one is a living sculpture that will add a touch of class and distinction to your landscape.
Reasons to Own a Cactus #2: They Don’t Ask for Much
A cactus will live happily in your indoor our outdoor space, and it won’t ask anything of you, or very little at least. You won’t have to bother the neighbors to ask them to water your plants while you enjoy your overseas trip. Neglect the average cactus all you want; it won’t hold it against you.
Reasons to Own a Cactus #3: They Look Just as Good Indoors
If you need a splash of color in a neglected corner of your home, college dorm, or work desk, but don’t want anything high-maintenance, then a cactus is just the thing. There are lots of small pottable varieties in all sorts of shapes and colors, and all require next to no nurturing
Reasons to Own a Cactus #4: You Can Eat Them
More than a few varieties of cactus are edible or produce edible fruits. The prickly pear fruit is a well-known example of edible cactus you may be familiar with, with its delicious purple fruit making every bite worth the perilous journey to its succulent center.
Reasons to Own a Cactus #5: They Go with Everything
There is nowhere around your home where a cactus won’t look like it belongs. The many shapes, sizes, and colors mean you can easily find a cactus that will brighten up any corner or add some variety to your outdoor garden.
Ten Most Popular Cacti People Own
Even though there are more than 2,000 varieties, some varieties are more popular than others. Here are the world’s top ten cactus requests.
Most Popular Cactus #1: Saguaro Cactus
While most people of the world won’t be able to own a Saguaro cactus because of it where it grows and its protected status, its tall fluted columns are instantly recognizable everywhere, especially if you are a fan of old westerns.
Saguaro only grows in the Sonoran Desert, and its flower is the state flower for Arizona. The cactus will grow to epic proportions and can live up to 200 years. You can only buy Saguaro from reputable growers or dealers that hold a permit.
Most Popular Cactus #2: Fairy Castle Cactus (Cereus Tetragonus)
The Fairy Castle Cactus is a small plant of mysterious origins. Nobody knows where the cactus originated, and you won’t find any in the wild. There have also been no known sightings of these cactus with flowers. Despite the lack of floral decoration, the fairy cactus is popular because it’s a small, attractive, and easy-care plant.
Most Popular Cactus #3: Moon Cactus or Ruby Ball (Gymnocalycium)
Spherical globes of bright red ribs and pretty pink flowers make the moon cactus a popular choice. It’s an interesting variety because the globes are red and contain no chlorophyll, which means it needs to be grafted to a host to survive. It also comes in shades of purple, orange, yellow, and peach.
Most Popular Cactus #4: Peanut Cactus (Echinopsis chamaecereus)
The proliferous 6-inch fingerlike stems resembling peanuts give this cute cactus its common name. From late spring to early summer, the stems will erupt in a display of color, with flowers in shades of bright red to glowing orange.
Most Popular Cactus #5: Tree Cactus (Pilosocereus pachycladus)
At a height of around 33 feet (10m), the tree cactus can grow to be a dominating presence in your garden. There is also the potential for a tree cactus to branch out, with each trunk producing a single but striking white bloom.
Most Popular Cactus #6: Bunny Ears Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)
Despite the cute name, this is not a bunny ear you want to touch with your hand. Bunny ear cacti don’t have the usual spines typical of its relatives. Instead, each pad-like stem is covered in glochids, which are clusters of hair-like spines.
The spines of each glochid are thinner than a human hair and covered in barbs. They will also detach at even the slightest touch.
There are three versions of bunny ears, which are easily distinguishable by their glochids’ color: white, yellow, and cinnamon. The white variety has delicate spines that are generally too soft to penetrate the skin, making them a good choice for an often visited garden.
Most Popular Cactus #7: Hedgehog Cactus or Sea Urchin Cactus (Echinopsis)
Echinopsis are a larger version of the peanut cactus, but with larger and fewer stems. The size of their stems and their magnificent, beautiful flowers make them a prized possession for many gardeners.
Most Popular Cactus #8: Pitaya (Stenocereus pruinosus)
It’s not entirely clear why the Pitaya cactus is so popular, but it’s often requested despite its plain looks. The plant does produce edible fruit, so that may have something to do with it. The cactus is endemic to Mexico, and the fruit is an essential staple in the local diet and is easily found in large quantities at food markets. The young cactus looks decidedly different from the mature version.
Most Popular Cactus #9: Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria Hahniana)
The Old Lady cactus resembles a powder puff covered in glochids. The frizzy grey hairs that give the plant its common name add vital protection from the harsh sun. Vibrant, dark pink blooms every spring and early summer organize themselves in a circular pattern around the stem to add an attractive dash of color to your garden.
Most Popular Cactus #10: Ladyfinger Cactus (Mammillaria Elongata)
Last but not least is the ladyfinger cactus. It features petite, fingerlike stems that grow to around 6-inches tall in a mature plant. It’s a great indoor plant providing it receives plenty of natural sunlight. Tiny one-centimeter flowers will decorate the slightly curved spines in white, pink, or pale yellow shades.