Types of cactus plant

What are the most beautiful, most popular cactus among fans and not?

We ask this question because often we notice that, for those who do not understand anything about succulents, cacti “are all the same.” Who starts attending the varied world of succulents, then realizes that they are not the same.

The common language identifies as cactus some succulent families, especially cacti. In reality the cactus include many different species between them. So let’s see what are the most popular.
The most beautiful flower? The Gymnocalycium anisitsii

The genus includes gymnocalycium small globular cacti, generally little prickly and with ribs not too pronounced.

The flowers make it really special : the flowers are large, numerous, with long petals and the most various colors, in some cases they recall a particularly rich waterlily (Gymnocalycium horsti) or some types of pink (Gymnocalycium baldianum).
Some plants also produce 4 or 5 flowers that cover the stem completely: it seems to meet a flowering bush, rather than a single plant.

Among the many beautiful gymnocalycium we chose the anisitsii for the delicate pink petals and abundance of blooms, but it was not an easy choice!

Flowering begins in May and lasts all summer. Good news for fans is that the gymocalycium, unlike other cacti, produce suckers easily, that can be replanted separately, by using them as cuttings: from a single specimen you could therefore get new and beautiful new one, taking into account our tips for the propagation of succulents.


Tall, elegant, special. The Cereus validus ‘Spiralis’

If you imagine the desert landscapes of Mexico or Arizona the protagonists are they, the Cereus: classic tall cacti, slender, with branched trunk and well-defined thorns that in the collective imagination (from cartoons to comic books) represent “the Cactus “par excellence – the one you even see in our logo !.

An extremely popular cactus, then, that, in the gardens, immediately gives a special and exotic touch. This is why we could not leave it out of our ranking on the types of the most representative cactus.

We propose here to discover its more particular variants: especially the Cereus validus “spiralis” where the typical classic straight edges of these cacti wrap around the plant like many vortices, getting a truly exceptional aesthetic effect.

The round type cactus: the most common is the Echinocactus grusonii

In addition to the columnar shape of the Cereus, the other typical cactus shape is round. Among the globular cacti the Echinocactus are very popular and representative, and in particular the Echinocactus grusonii.

It is certainly among the most popular cactus also for the domestic cultivation because it is well suited to the vase life. In the market there are many variants, also very peculiar.

Its stem is a perfect globe divided into medium-deep vertical ribs, from which depart strong thorns, geometrically arranged, with different directions and angles.

It is a slow-growing plant, but also very long-lived: just think that begins to bloom only after 20 years of age, when it reaches full maturity.

And you, which kind of cactus, of this vast and representative family, would you include? Write us your opinion about most popular cacti!

Today I thought it would be fun to share a completely random, somewhat long-term, project that we are undertaking in our flower beds. Bye-bye flowers…. haha!

When we first moved to Tennessee, we were out driving one day and I saw a GIANT prickly pear cactus growing in someone’s yard. It was the size of a large bush. It was already getting cold, and I wondered how such a large outdoor cactus was living through the winters. Well, sure enough, I drove by it weekly and even in the snow it lasted. I was blown away.

Laura found one in her neighborhood as well, and one day when we were at one of our local nurseries, we asked how it was possible for them to live outdoors and if there were more varieties like this!

We learned that there is only one variety of traditional looking cacti that are actually native to Tennessee. It’s the Texas Prickly Pear. We both decided to take a chance on them and plant some at our homes!

The only downside is they don’t really sell the giant ones. You have to get smallish ones and let them grow. And it takes years. But since we’re planning to be here for a while, I decided to plant a bunch!

Now, being the complete psycho that I am, I begged Jeremy to plant them all over the front of our house. But he wasn’t into it because of the fact that it takes years for them to get big, and in the meantime the scale would be kind of off.

So we compromised and decided to plant them all around the back part of our house. Maybe a couple by the mailbox too! We had already had a bunch of bushes in the back pulled out when we were painting the exterior, so we decided to start there.

Baby steps! Besides painting the brick, this was our first outdoor project, you guys!! It’s happening!

Here’s the whole bed. Not much to look at yet. I am hoping that at this time next year I can post some pretty significant growth photos. I think a lot of it has to do with them getting the right amount of water and sun during the warm months. My understanding is that they don’t really grow in the winter.

For scale. Look how SMALL.

Giving hugs because I love them SO MUCH. Even though they’re small, I still love how they look and feel like they make this little corner of our outdoor space 10x more charming and personal.

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere temperate year round, please go out and plant 4-6 new cacti in my honor. DO IT.

If you live somewhere with all four seasons, like me, and you want to plant cacti, here’s what you do! Go to a local nursery (not a big box store, a local store where the people working there really know their stuff!) and ask what options for cacti are cold weather hardy for your area. Maybe you’ll learn something new like I did?

Thanks for letting me share my new obsession. If you have any tips or information on this subject, I’m all ears! xxoo -Elsie

Credits/Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Elsie Larson and Collin DuPree. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.

Cacti of West and Southwest USA

Plants > Cacti Cacti are the most distinctive plants of Southwest USA, and the majority occur in the four southernmost states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, especially in the Sonoran, Mojave and Chihuahuan deserts, where they are very widespread and numerous. Further north, some types like opuntia and echinocereus are still quite abundant, but there are also a number of smaller plants with much more limited distribution, such as sclerocactus and pediocactus.
The six cactus genera with the largest number of plants, and hence most likely to be encountered, are cereus, cylindropuntia, echinocereus, ferocactus, mammillaria and opuntia.
Less common genera include ariocarpus, coryphantha, echinocactus, echinomastus, epithelantha, escobaria, glandulicactus, grusonia, pediocactus, sclerocactus and thelocactus, while other rare genera (with the number of US species), are acanthocereus (1), ancistrocactus (2), astrophytum (1), hamatocactus (1), lophophora (1) and neolloydia (1), plus a few types that grow only in Florida.
State species lists: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah.
Common Southwest Cactus Genera

Cereus and related species are tall, often tree-like cacti, and only three are common in the Southwest: the saguaro (carnegia genus), senita (pachycereus genus) and organ pipe (stenocereus genus). The latter two occur most visibly in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument but the saguaro is widespread, one of the universally recognized symbols of this region. The only other cereus-like plants in the US include bergerocactus emoryi in south California and peniocereus greggii in south Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Many more varieties of columnar cacti are found in Mexico, Baja California and South America.

Cylindropuntia cacti are a variety of opuntia that have thin, cylindrical stem segments instead of flat, rounded pads, but share other traits including branching profusely to form large clumps, and having small bristles (glochids) in addition to the regular spines. Most species have a very dense covering of spines, sometimes completely obscuring the green stems beneath, and cholla are a familiar sight across a variety of Southwest habitats, from the hottest deserts of Arizona and California to the grassy plains of New Mexico. Most species flower profusely. Spines are covered by a thin, papery sheath, a feature not present in the opuntia species.

Known commonly as the hedgehog cactus, this common, widespread variety is characterized by low clumps of cylindrical or conical stems, sometimes containing a hundred or more plants, and conspicuous red or pink flowers. They grow over a wide range of environments, from the low, hot deserts to cool mountain slopes, but most prefer unshaded conditions. Spines are arranged along vertical ribs, and are always straight, never hooked. There is quite a wide variation in appearance even within individual species, with various subspecies recognized, and it can be difficult to identify a particular plant.

Ferocactus plants are characterized by many heavy spines, growing along prominent ribs, and they include the large, common and widespread barrel cacti found in the hottest parts of the deserts of Arizona and California, some becoming up to ten feet high. There are also two less common US species – one in far south California, and ferocactus hamatacanthus in Texas and New Mexico. Like cereus, far more varieties are found further south in Baja California and Mexico.

Mammillaria are generally small, often delicate plants, usually forming clusters, with a wide variety of color, spination and flowers. Spines grow at the end of small tubercles rather than ribs – a characteristic shared with certain other, less numerous genera such as coryphantha and escobaria – and often include one of more longer central spines, which may be straight (pincushion cacti) or curved (fishhook cacti), surrounded by smaller radial spines. Flowers come not from the apex but lower down, in a ring around the upper part of the stem, and this helps to distinguish them from similar species, as these tend to flower from the tip.

Opuntia (‘prickly pears’) are branched, joined cacti, usually densely spined, though a few species have no spines. They are characterized by flattened pads, unlike the related cylindropuntia genus (cholla), where the pads are cylindrical. Some opuntia become large and tree-like while others stay at ground level, often forming extensive mats. There are many Southwest varieties, often similar in appearance, a few hybridized and many difficult to identify. The regular spines are surrounded by tiny bristles known as glochids, which are very irritating to the skin if touched.
Other Southwest Cacti Genera

Ariocarpus, the living rock cactus, has just one US representative, found only in the Big Bend region of west Texas. Another half dozen species occur in Mexico, and all are quite rare.

Coryphantha cacti look like mammillaria in that they are small, have tubercles rather than ribs, and are solitary or form closely-spaced clusters; the main difference is that flowers are borne at the tip, rather than a little way down the stem. They are commonly known as beehive cacti, or topflower cacti.

Echinocactus plants resemble some of the ferocactus species; they are spherical or barrel shaped, have dense and/or thick spines arranged along ribs, and may be single or clustered, though they do not reach the great heights (up to ten feet) of the larger ferocacti.

Echinomastus, or pineapple cacti are usually single, forming small globes or cylinders characterized by tubercles arranged in rows, all quite spiny. There are six US species, all with limited distribution, mostly in Arizona and Texas.

Epithelantha, button cacti, are characterized by spherical or short-columnar stems completely covered by numerous, short, white or light grey spines, up to 90 per areole. Fruits are tubular, reddish, while the flowers are small, borne right at the tip of the stems, and colored pink or pale orange.


There is only one US species in the Glandulicactus genus; a small group of stout, cylindrical cacti for which the main distinguishing feature is hooked radial spines in addition to the longer, hooked central spine. Plants were formerly included in the sclerocactus genus.

Grusonia cacti are a type of cholla, characterized by short, club-shaped stem segments with pronounced tubercles bearing especially strong, sharp, dense spines, usually flattened and tapered. They form low mats, often covering a wide area.

Known variously as foxtail cactus, pincushion cactus or spiny star, escobaria is another group of small, tubercular cacti, similar to mammillaria and coryphantha. The US has over a dozen species, most relatively uncommon.

The pediocactus genus include some of the smallest species in the US, growing mostly in north Arizona and Utah. All are rare, and most occur in very localized areas, sometimes of just a few square miles.

Sclerocactus cacti resemble the echinocereus species but are usually single and have central spines that are hooked rather than straight, hence their common name of fishhook cactus. Upwards of 20 different types have been identified, found in higher elevation desert regions. Spines grow from tubercles arranged in prominent ribs.

Most thelocactus cacti are found only in Mexico; just one species grows in the USA, primarily in the Big Bend area of west Texas. The plants are small, globular or cylindrical, usually solitary, and produce large showy flowers right from the growing tip.

If you have an interest in creating a cactus garden, here is a gallery with 15 beautiful cactus garden ideas that you should explore.

If you live in a desert area where rain is not a common occurrence, then having a garden may be a difficult task. The solution? Create a cactus garden that does not require a lot of water to thrive. You can easily add other plants to your garden, but you will want to stick to the cactus family and succulents. I created a cactus garden a few years ago, and without much care and maintenance, the garden became one of the highlights of my yard.

This guide is designed to help you create a cactus garden that you will adore. We have an inspirational list filled with images of some great cactus garden ideas that you can create with cactus, but before we begin considering the specific ideas, let’s take a look at some tips that may be helpful while you are creating your cactus garden.

Cactus Garden Tips

  • Cactus plants do not do well when they sit in water. This is a desert plant, so excess water should be avoided. The best way to make sure that your cactus garden does not sit in a pool of water is to ensure that the pot that the plants are planted in and the soil are both well-draining. A layer of pebbles helps ensure that the soil in a pot does not block the drainage holes.
  • During the summer months, cactus plants can be watered when the top of the soil is dry, but during the colder winter months of the year, these plants should not be watered at all until new growth begins the following spring.
  • Sand Mulch is a great type of soil to use because it allows the water to drain away from the plant quickly.
  • If a cactus is planted in a pot that confines the plant and makes it difficult to water, you can place the pot in a container of water and allow the root ball to suck the water to it for a short period of time.

Types of Cactus Plants for Your Garden

When you think of a cactus, chances are that you envision a large cactus with three arms. This is because the movies have skewed our idea of what a cactus is and many of us have forgotten that there is a large variety of cactus plants that you can put in your garden to make it truly beautiful. Here are some of the types of cactus plants that you may want to consider:

  • Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus – If you are planting a cactus garden, this variation is known for tolerating harsher climates than most cactus plants. In fact, it has been known to grow as far north in the United States as Minnesota.
  • Crow’s Claw Cactus – This is a globe-shaped cactus that produces bright pink blooms during the growing season, which makes it a colorful addition to any garden.
  • Pipe Organ Cactus – This is a slow growing cactus that is tall, green, and spiny, but it is a cactus with a unique look that will add flavor to your garden.

Now that you know the different cactus plants that you can plant in your garden, let’s take a look at some specific ideas.

1. Succulent Cactus Garden

The first thing that you see in this delightful little rock garden is the bright pink blooms on the top of a few of the cactus plants. The front of the garden features a variety of succulents that helps to make the garden look fuller.

2. A Patch of Cactus Plants

Source: Garden Design Magazine

When you look out across the desert plains in this next idea, you can see a large amount of small rounded cactus plants that stretch out into the distance from the deck. There are also taller cactuses of to the side.

3. Mound of Cactuses

I love the way that this idea implements a mound of cactus plants in the center of the garden. There is a sand-shaded wall in the background that looks great behind a cactus garden, especially a blooming one.

4. Red Cactus Garden

This idea is one that is created using a few different types of cactus plants, but the aspect that will greatly enhance your garden is the red shale that surrounds the plants.

5. Spiny Aloe Surprise

The cactus plants in this idea are blooming beautifully, but they are slightly overshadowed by the massive aloe-type plant that is located directly in the center of this intriguing garden.

6. Desert Retreat

Source: Landscape Design West

Nothing looks more at home in the desert than a few cactus plants. This homestead is complete with a table and chairs to relax as well as a lovely cactus garden that only features a few plants on each side of the path.

7. Arizona Homestead

Sandstone and tan coloration are common in Arizona, which is where this home feels like it belongs. The rock garden is filled with a few different cactus styles that create an inviting entryway.

8. Reaching for the Sky

In this next idea, the white building in the background is bright in the desert sun, but the contrast of the tall green cactus plants creates a charming atmosphere that is perfect for your garden.

9. Red Spines

One of the most noticeable features of this next idea is the glowing red spines that are jutting from the plant. The sunlight hits the spines in just the right way to create an almost angelic glow that will catch your eye.

10. Colorful Cactus Creation

This small cactus garden features plants that are spread out. The stones in the garden are different pastel colors to help create a fun and exciting cactus garden.

11. Shady Hideaway

Typically a cactus garden requires a lot of sunlight, so if you have a shady back yard, this idea is for you. The plants are spread around the garden in locations where the sun will reach them.

12. Indoor Cactus Garden

Not all cactus gardens need to be located outdoors; in fact, many smaller gardens are actually located directly in your home. This idea is perfect for an indoor display that your guests will adore.

13. Rock Garden of Symmetry

If you want a minimalist cactus garden, then recreate this rock garden that displays the plants in a circular fashion. Use two contrasting stone colorations to keep the pattern as perfect as it is in this image.

14. Prickly Pear Amongst the Rock

This image is a bit less perfect than the last, but it is just as amazing. The prickly pear cactus plants look like they are busting through the rocky ground to their current positions.

15. Potted Cactus Plants

Planters are also a great way to start a cactus garden, especially when you do not have space or the materials to make one on the ground. These plants can be positioned on top of a table, stool, or other raised garden ledge.


Popular Garden Ideas

Popular Garden Ideas

Cacti are plants that don’t require a lot of care, look great all year long, and won’t cost you a fortune. In addition, their juicy green colors will add a nice touch to your desk, room, or even garden. That’s right; you can create an amazing cactus garden to proudly display your favorite plants and be able to spend some quality time among them. If you don’t feel up to designing your very own cactus garden just yet, take a look at our collection of cactus garden ideas for some inspiration.

1. Stones and Cacti

If you think you’d like to have a zen cactus garden, you can’t go wrong with mixing plants and stones. Big flat rocks can make a nice base for your cacti pots, and spreading smaller stones in between pots creates a nice ambiance of a Japanese-like garden. If you want to be particularly creative, you can experiment with various colors for your pots and rocks. Mixing and matching them can create different types of atmospheres and ambiances depending on what you’d like to have in your own cactus garden.

2. Glass Balls Reflecting Cacti

Decorative glass balls probably hit their popularity peak in interior design some years ago, but they are still a viable idea for your cactus garden. The sheer variety of glass balls available on the market gives you a lot of room to experiment with different shapes and color accents. This allows you to create numerous combinations and easily redecorate your cactus garden once you get tired of the way it looks.

3. Cactus in Bloom

Cacti don’t necessarily have to be plain old green. Some of them can bloom and show off beautiful flowers for at least some weeks. It is often fairly difficult to make a blooming cactus actually produce flowers because they need very particular conditions to bloom. You may need to move the cactus around your house or apartment for a while to find the sweet spot that works best for your plant. Using special plant fertilizers may also be a good idea if you want to get the best results. However, once you get the cactus to bloom, it will look great for weeks and surely become the centerpiece of your cactus garden.

4. Cactus in A Flowerbed

If you have a garden outside and live in a climate with mild winters, you can add a cactus to your garden to give it a new twist. Naturally, you’ll need a rather large cactus. Otherwise, it is simply going to get lost among other plants in your garden. Also, make sure the cactus you’re getting for your garden is suitable for weather conditions outside. Some cacti types will have to grow in special large pots, while others need to be planted into the ground. Either way, the new succulent inhabitant of your garden is definitely going to be a nice touch to the existing layout.

5. Mix and Match

If you have limited funds or simply don’t want to invest in decorations such as rocks, stones, or glass balls, you can still create a great cactus garden. Take a look at the cacti you already have and try to imagine a nice arrangement in the space you’re going to use for your garden. If you find a combination that works together well, you’re done designing your new garden. If not, take a good mental note of the cacti you already have and get some new ones that you think can complement your old plants.

6. Stucco and Succulents

Stucco walls can add a lot of character to any garden, so why not use it as a background for your new cactus garden. If you already have a stucco wall, you’ll need to take its design into account when choosing the cacti and their pots for the garden. If not, you almost literally have a clean slate, so you can choose to create your garden in antique, oriental, modern, or any other style you like.

7. Create a Mini Garden

If you live in a small apartment with seemingly no space available for a cactus garden, you may still be able to fit one into your living quarters. Window sills often present a great spot for cacti because there is a lot of sunlight coming in from the window. However, if a window sill is situated next to a heating unit or underneath a window that doesn’t get a lot of light, it is probably not the best place to grow a cacti garden. If you don’t have a suitable window sill, take a look at shelves and other flat surfaces at eye level – you’re bound to find a spot where you could place a couple of cacti and maybe even some small rocks.

8. Cactus Fences

Of course, you can’t seriously expect to replace the fence around your house with cacti. However, you can plant the succulents along pathways or alleys to create visual limitations and separate different areas of your yard and garden. Just make sure to get the right types of cacti so that they can survive the transplantation and thrive in their new home. Bear in mind that this type of cactus garden may not be the best idea if there are small children or pets in your household.

9. Cacti in the Desert

People who live in warmer climates may want to go for the desert look for their cactus gardens. Depending on what you already have available, a cool desert design may be very easy or fairly challenging to achieve. In any case, you’re probably going to need some sand and a couple of boulders to set the tone. Once the sand is spread out and the boulders have been installed, you can place your cacti around them and see how they interact with the new environment.

10. Aloe Meets Cactus

It is common for people to think that aloe vera is actually a type of cactus because of its sharp, dry, spiny look. Despite not actually being one of the 2000+ cactus types, aloe vera still is a succulent that can fit into your new cactus garden perfectly. If you plant it outside in suitable conditions, it will grow to be pretty big, so make sure to allow it some space to grow into. Centering your cactus collection around an aloe plant is bound to result in a nice looking garden.

11. Explore the Variety

As you already know from the previous paragraph, there are over 2000 various cactus types, and of course, they don’t all look the same. We all know and recognize the stereotypical cactus look, but there are some succulent plants that you probably wouldn’t even identify as a cactus, yet they do belong to the Cactaceae family. Thus, your perfect cactus garden design may all come together once you take a good look at all the various shapes, forms, and even colors of cacti you can purchase.

12. Go For Exotic Cacti

If you have a soft spot for rare or unique things, we feel you may like to decorate your cactus garden with some exotic cacti. Depending on where you live, you might be able to get your hands on some pretty rare and interesting cacti types without much trouble and effort. If there are no rare cacti easily available in your city or even country, you can still look for them online. This way is going to be more challenging, but finally obtaining the desired cactus is also going to feel much more rewarding.

13. Cacti in a Rock Garden

Rocks are a very versatile material for garden design, and some people even choose to have rock gardens with little to no plants just for the sheer stone aesthetic. If you happen to have a rock garden already and feel fed up with its look, you can instantly make it more fun by placing some cacti around it. Choose the cacti types for your rock garden wisely, and you’ll be able to create a nice, welcoming space where you can read books, relax after a day at work, or simply watch the stars.

14. Playing With Contrasts

If your house walls are painted white or another light color, you can plant some tall cacti next to them to create a sharp contrast. The fresh green colors of the cacti are going to stand out against the light colored walls, bringing a lot of visual diversity into your garden or backyard. This design looks particularly great during sunny days when the walls present a bright background, and the cacti cast solid, crisp-looking shadows.

15. Glowing Red Spines

Sometimes the best way to create an interesting visual aesthetic is to experiment with the light. Assuming your cactus garden is going to be outside, you have a lot of room for experimentation due to the variability of natural light. If you can place or plant your cacti in the right spot, you can get the sun to shine at them at that particular angle that creates a certain backlight and makes the cacti glow in it. The best cacti to go with this kind of design are the ones with red spines: once they are hit by the light from the right angle, they start producing a nice pinkish glow.

16. Colors Fill Spaces

If you have a large space intended for your cactus garden, you don’t necessarily have to fill it all up with cacti, rocks, or other expensive decorations. It is possible to create a great cactus garden with a limited budget regardless of how the spacious it is going to be. The trick is to avoid leaving too much open space by covering up the ground around your cacti with small colorful stones. Being quite affordable and coming in a variety of colors, these stones are perfect for creating circles or maybe even other geometrical shapes around the base of your cacti and filling up vast empty spaces.

17. Escaping the Shadows

It is no secret that cacti need a lot of sunlight to live and grow. Unfortunately, sometimes all the space you have for your future cactus garden is an area hidden from the sun by your house, shed, or maybe a large tree. Still, it is often possible to find small spots that get more sunlight even in darker areas. Use these spots to strategically plant your cacti, creating a visually engaging scattered look for your cactus garden.

18. Minimalism is Key

In a world full of an overwhelming amount of different things, concepts, and ideas, your cactus garden can become a place where you can meditate and focus on what matters most. A minimalistic design is definitely going to work best for such garden, and symmetry can help you implement minimalism without completely missing out on the decorative aspects of a garden. Get some similar cacti in uniform pots and center them around a tree, a fountain, or a large exotic cactus to build a symmetrical pattern.

19. Cacti Leading the Way

This cactus garden design will probably require you to spend more money and effort than most others on this list, but your investment will be rewarded by having an unusual and very cool garden. Choose a suitable path in your garden or backyard and plant cacti of different sizes along it. Ideally, they would surround the path from both sides, but if you only have the money or space to do one side, the design is still going to look pretty good. It is a good idea to take some extra time and find cacti of as many sizes as possible to create smooth visual transitions between plants.

20. A Rough Patch

We have already given you some ideas that work well if you have a large space for the cactus garden and only a few cacti to place there. But what if money is not that much of a concern and you are prepared to spend a lot on your new garden? Well, in that case, you could go for expensive, super rare cacti and proudly display them in the garden, or buy a dozen cacti of the same type and cover up a patch in your garden. This design works particularly well with large round cacti which all look more or less the same and are relatively easy to obtain.

21. Tiny Cacti

Since cacti vary in shape and size, your cactus garden doesn’t necessarily have to be large. Some people prefer small cacti that can easily be placed on desks, shelves, or tables. Such cacti work great for an indoor cactus garden described in our idea #7, but some of them can even be planted outside. Just be careful not to step on your tiny garden once you’re done planning and planting it!

22. Display Your Personality

If you’re the one designing your cactus garden, it can become your creative outlet, reflecting your personal traits and preferences. Are you methodical and organized? Your cactus garden layout could be revolving around lines and strict geometric patterns. If you’re spontaneous and creative, your garden could reflect that just as well, being a chaotic mix of different cacti and seemingly random decorations. Expressing yourself is fun, so why not do it while designing your cactus garden instead of just copying someone else’s design?

23. Don’t Forget About Pots

Even the least remarkable cactus garden designs can be “fixed” with a splash of color – and colorful rocks or glass balls are not your only option. Use pots of different colors to accentuate your cacti and make your garden look much more vivid and engaging. Just make sure you stick with bright colors for the pots. Otherwise, they’re just going to blend in with the ground or the cacti themselves.

24. Cacti Hills

Some gardens happen to have hills waiting to be incorporated into the overall garden layout, and planting a bunch of cacti on them is a great way to do just that. Having multiple green succulents populating the hill will make it an essential part of your garden instead of being an eyesore. In fact, a well-designed cactus garden on a hill can look so cool that some people intentionally create uneven landscapes to accommodate their cacti.

25. Don’t Get Exclusive

The name “cactus garden” clearly suggests that the main plants in the garden should be cacti, but that doesn’t mean they also have to be the only ones. Cacti can work really well with small, bright flowers, creating a textured green background for the colorful little plants. Also, you can try mixing cacti with larger succulents of different types – this could be gsreat for a larger garden with some rocks, statues, or even a pond.

Did you enjoy my list of cactus garden ideas? It would mean a lot to me to get some feedback from you, even if you have some criticisms regarding the article. And if you think the ideas on this list are helpful and inspiring, please take some time to share it with your friends and help them design cactus gardens of their own!

Cactus Landscaping – Types Of Cactus For The Garden

Cacti and succulents make outstanding landscaping plants. They require little maintenance, grow in a variety of climates, and are easy to care for and grow. Most will even tolerate neglect. These plants are also well adapted to potted environments, making them excellent candidates for growing indoors as well.

Types of Cacti

Cacti vary in size, color, shape and growing habits. They may grow in upright columns, spreading clumps or spiny balls. They might even be found cascading over large rocks or in hanging baskets. Cacti are available in numerous varieties too, many of which produce stunning flowers. While many types of cactus are native to desert climates, most will tolerate a number of growing conditions. This versatility makes cactus landscaping possible nearly anywhere.

Some popular types of cacti found in landscape settings include:

  • Prickly pear cactus – known for its broad, flat prickly stems, of which the tips turn coral colored in bright sun.
  • Barrel cactus – resembles spine-covered barrels.
  • Cholla cactus – has thin round stems and is quite attractive when used as a focal point within the landscape.
  • Pincushion cactus – resembling a small pincushion with its tiny spines sticking out from its round ball-like shape, it makes an interesting addition to the garden.
  • Totem pole cactus – characterized by their large height and spineless column shape.
  • Organ pipe cactus – grows in clusters that look similar to its name-organ pipes.

Cactus Landscaping Tips

When landscaping with cactus and succulent plants, you should always do your homework first. Learn more about their individual growing requirements and try to match these requirements to that of your landscape.

Cactus plants have a number of survival tactics that allow them to adapt to a particular environment; however, it’s always better to choose those that are more likely to thrive in your particular area. Including a variety of cacti that share similar growing needs but with different heights and textures will add interest to the cactus garden.

Growing Cactus Outdoors

When growing cactus outdoors, choose a sunny, sloped location whenever possible. Locating cactus on a slope allows for better drainage, which is vital when dealing with these plants.

Depending on the types of cactus chosen, beds should be about 6 to 12 inches deep with well-drained soil specially formulated for cactus plants. This can be purchased or mixed yourself using two parts potting soil, two parts sand, and one part gravel. Cactus plants also enjoy a moderate layer of mulch such as pebbles, rocks, or similar substance.

Once established, cacti require little maintenance and very little, if any, water.

If you live in a desert environment, you might find that it’s easy to get stuck in a rut with regards to your garden landscaping. Due to the climate of the desert, you have a limited selection of plants to choose from that can withstand the temperature and the frequency of drought. Soil composition can also be problematic for people residing in the desert as it can be gritty and sand-heavy, further reducing your options in terms of plant choice and landscaping.

If you need some inspiration for ways to reinvigorate your desert garden and give it a fresh new look, check out these 15 desert landscaping ideas.

1. Cacti Contrast

While you might be limited to growing succulents and cacti in your desert garden, that’s not to say that your landscape has to be bland. This garden has contrasted the green cacti with a reddish-orange brick wall behind it. The wall really helps to set off the color of the cacti and make them pop, as well as providing an attractive rustic backdrop for the plants.

An added feature of this image is the trailing plants that have been placed at the base of the cacti. These add further contrast against the cacti, as the cacti are chunky, robust, large, and erect, while the trailing plants are delicate and drooping. The series of contrasting elements in this garden makes it much more interesting than it would have been with simply a row of cacti, proving that landscaping in deserts is about so much more than just plant choice but also about what you pair those plants with.

2. Showy Succulents

Desert gardens have a reputation for being quite dull in color, but this absolutely doesn’t have to be the case. If you find yourself falling into the pattern of always having plants that lack vibrancy and want to change things up a little, then look for colorful succulents that can be found in an array of different shades.

The succulents seen in this image are various shades of green, orange, blue, and deep purple, but there are many other succulent varieties available in all manner of colors. Succulent popularity has been soaring over the last few years, so you should find a good selection of succulents in nurseries. If you struggle to find enough colorful succulents locally, then turn to online suppliers, who can usually offer more diversity.

3. Petite Palm

Small areas of your yard can be difficult to address when it comes to landscaping, and so, often get neglected. However, this image proves that small spaces can and should be celebrated.

Compact spaces don’t necessarily need to have ground-level plants, and a dwarf palm such as the one shown in this image is the perfect way to create interest in an area that would usually get ignored. The simplicity of this design gives a modern look to the landscape, with the green of the two plants contrasting nicely against the white pebbles on the ground.

Colored pebbles are another idea to consider in your desert garden to hide the desert soil, which can look quite drab because of its sandy composition. Use white, gray, or black pebbles for a classic neutral look, or brightly colored pebbles to add a fun feel to your space.

4. Purple Paradise

While this garden features several stunning plants, what really sets off the look is the purple gravel spread all over the ground. Purple contrasts perfectly against the vibrant green of the foliage, and it adds a splash of color in a landscape that would otherwise be very flat.

If purple isn’t your color, you could select any color of gravel you like to cover the ground. Bright colors give a more playful feel, while more neutral colors will give a sophisticated look. Choose one color you like and keep everything else quite natural. Having too many colors competing for attention can look messy and confusing.

The added layer of material over the soil also has practical benefits. The gravel adds an extra layer of insulation to protect roots from extreme temperatures. It also helps keep the soil moist as it will aid in preventing moisture evaporation so that you don’t have to water your plants as frequently. This is especially important in desert landscapes, where rainfall can be rare and water comes at a premium.

5. Rocking Rock Garden

If landscaping your desert garden seems like an insurmountable task, start small by creating gardens in containers. Rock gardens are ideal for desert climates, and they can provide great aesthetic interest. Choose a pot of any size you like, and fill it will a succulent and cactus mix of soil, or make your own well-draining soil by mixing up compost, peat, and sand.

Now, select a series of succulents or cacti, which will be the star of the show in your container garden. Choose a mixture of different types to create a good contrast, but make sure they are quite small and don’t overcrowd the pot. They will need space to grow and spread out.

Bed your plants into the soil, and then add some large rocks amongst them to create an authentic rock garden look. Just a few medium to large rocks will be enough. Once these have been situated, you can surround them with pebbles or gravel to finish the look.

Container rock gardens work well almost anywhere in a desert landscape. You can place one at the corner of a terrace, or line up a row of matching pots along a wall for a modern minimalist style.

6. Reflection Retreat

Desert gardens are synonymous with being dry, dusty, and dull, but it’s time for desert landscaping to finally get the recognition it deserves as one of the most stylish and calming types of design. The desert garden in this image is far from dry and dusty, with a tranquil reflection pond being the star of the show.

The juxtaposition of the pond and the cacti is quite intriguing, as typically, you would expect to see cacti growing in a much more dehydrated setting. If your garden is some where you’d like to spend more time relaxing, then you can’t go wrong by adding a reflection pond. A square or rectangle pond evokes a mood of stillness and would be a perfect setting to perform outdoor yoga or meditation.

The great thing about reflection ponds is that they can be created in almost any sized or shaped garden. Once constructed, they require very little maintenance, so you can spend your time enjoying the presence of the water.

7. Contemporary Courtyard

This courtyard garden is a perfect example of how a small space can be used to create a modern and relaxing area that is almost maintenance-free. If you have a corner of your desert garden that needs an overhaul, imitate this garden by selecting a handful of plants and trees in different shapes and sizes. The height difference between the plants adds interest and the appearance of a mature garden.

Trees can be an expensive addition to a garden, but they create a large impact, especially in small spaces.

To complete the modern contemporary look, layer small pebbles onto the ground. Pebbles are a brilliant way to instantly transform or update the look of a garden, without spending a lot of time or money. They create a clean backdrop for the plants and help them to stand out more than they would against the background of soil.

8. Fashionable Water Features

If you have a large space to fill, then a selection of water features could be a good option. Water features can be quite an expense to purchase them and have them installed, but once complete, they don’t require the maintenance that plants do, and so can be a good way to create interest in your garden if you don’t want the hassle of caring for a yard full of plants.

A selection of small water features such as this creates a very modern style and gives you lots of options with regards to landscaping the remaining space. Small water features create a great look without dominating the space.

If you want a high-fashion look in your desert garden, choose water features that include contemporary sculptures, such as the elongated stainless steel pyramids seen in this garden.

9. Patterned Pebbles

To create a big impact with a low budget, consider laying pebbles in patterns on the ground. The chessboard pattern of the pebbles seen in this image has been created with two contrasting colored pebbles: white and dark gray. Laid out in a checkered formation, the pebbles give a uniqueness that is rarely seen in home gardens.

To create a look like this, first lay out a pattern on the ground. You can do this by setting down garden twine and fixing it in place with pegs, or use a sharp garden tool to mark out a pattern in the soil lightly. Once you are happy with the pattern, it can be filled with the colored pebbles.

This image can be used as inspiration to create your own patterned pebble floor. Potential ideas could include geometric patterns or stripes.

10. Raised Cactus Bed

If you want to make the most of your desert climate by growing cacti but are worried about the dangers of pets or children touching their spikes, then a raised bed could be the ideal solution. Cactus plants really thrive in a desert climate, as it perfectly meets their care needs, providing you do supplement the lack of rainfall with an occasional watering.

As cacti do so well in this environment, it would be a shame not to feature them in your desert garden, but some people are reluctant to have them alongside pets and small children who could get hurt if they touch them. A raised bed could alleviate your worries by keeping the cacti out of reach. As well as providing a practical solution to this problem, raised beds full of cacti also look great, so they could be a feature in any desert garden.

Create a focal point by constructing a raised bed in the center of a garden, or flank your garden with raised borders full of cacti.

11. Light It Up

Adding lighting to your garden is a cost-effective way to transform the look and feel of the space instantly. Lighting helps to create a mood, whether that be romantic or lively. In the past, outdoor lights were usually reserved for holiday festivities, but lighting is now suitable to decorate your outside space with all year round.

There are so many types of lighting available that you’re sure to find something that works for you. Solar lights are a popular option thanks to their ability to power themselves from sunlight, meaning you don’t need to have access to an electric power, and you won’t incur a running cost. String lights tied around the trunks or branches of trees is a fairly common way to decorate a garden because it is so effective and easy to achieve. However, you could get as creative as you want to with your outdoor lighting, using hanging lanterns, spotlights, or lights to illuminate pathways. White lights give a very vibrant atmosphere and work well for parties, whereas yellow lights, also known as warm lights, have a softer, more romantic effect.

12. Coping with Sloping

Sloped gardens present a challenge for many homeowners. The space isn’t useful for outdoor dining, children playing, or positioning potted plants. However, one thing that sloped gardens are great for is creating flower beds, and this is true for both standard gardens as well as desert gardens.

To create a feature out of your sloped garden, you’ll need a selection of plants. For a desert climate, drought-tolerant plants work well as they are equipped to handle the environment and won’t require too much care from you. Choose a number of plants with a range of different heights. This helps to create an attractive aesthetic and give a balanced look. You will need to position the shorter plants at the lower end of the slope and the taller plants at the higher end.

Once planted, you may want to surround the plants with pebbles. This will immediately give your slope a finished look and helps to define the boundaries between what is a bed and what isn’t.

13. Bold and Beautiful

If you’re lucky enough to have a large desert garden to work with, it can be hard to decide what to do with such a massive space. One idea is to go big. A spread of large succulents and cacti make a real statement and are low-maintenance in terms of care.

Spacing the plants apart will mean you don’t have to spend so much money purchasing them, but it also gives you the opportunity to create pathways in between the plants, allowing you to access the plants to care for them but also giving you space to take walks around your property.

14. Adorn with Ornaments

An often-overlooked way to spruce up your garden is to add ornaments to it. This is a good way to style your garden and inject some of your personality into it.

If you’re a fan of antiques, then you could add some old worn objects to the garden to give it a rustic feel, or, alternatively, introduce a modern sculpture to define your garden as a contemporary space. Ornaments can stand alone in the garden and be a statement all by themselves, or you can seamlessly integrate an ornament into a garden as seen in this image of an old wagon wheel. A climbing plant has been positioned at the base of the wheel, on which it will grow and wind around as it gets longer.

15. All in a Row

If you struggle with particularly infertile soil in your desert garden, you’re not alone. Soil of poor quality is common in some areas of the desert, and if you’re not prepared to put in the work to improve its quality, then keeping potted plants is a good alternative.

Cacti grow well in containers, though be sure to choose a relatively small cactus to prevent the pot from toppling over when the plant gets tall. Potted plants can be positioned in any arrangement, and, of course, their position isn’t permanent because you can simply relocate the pot. For a uniform look, select a number of identical pots and plant them in a row. Or, for a more traditional style, group together mismatched pots in a range of shapes and sizes.

If this article has helped to inspire you, or you know someone who may enjoy it, please feel free to share it, and let us know your thoughts in the comments section. We’d love to hear other ideas you’ve come up with!

Can You Drink Water from a Cactus?

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You may have heard that you can get water from a cactus if you are ever lost and dehydrated in a desert.* Sounds like a nice survival tip to store away, but is it really that easy? Turns out, a cactus is not actually a spine-covered basin of fresh water. Such a plant would not last long in an arid habitat filled with thirsty animals. Water is truly a precious resource in a desert, so, in addition to their intimidating spines, most cactus species further protect their spongy flesh with acids and potent alkaloids. These chemicals are usually too acrid for most humans to tolerate and are taxing on the kidneys if ingested. The flesh of some cactus species can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, or temporary paralysis—none of which is conducive to your survival in an emergency situation. The notable exceptions to this rule are the prickly pear and one species of barrel cactus, the fishhook barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni). While both of these plants are fairly unpleasant to eat raw, they have less-concentrated levels of the detrimental chemicals and could give you a bit of hydration in a pinch. Cactus fruits are a better bet, though many are also unpalatable if eaten raw.

*All of this, of course, is assuming you are stranded in a New World desert with true cacti. The cactuslike plants found in the deserts of southern Africa and Madagascar are members of the family Euphorbiaceae and are toxic. The milky sap of these plants can burn the skin and mucous membranes and can cause permanent blindness if it gets in your eyes. Definitely don’t try to eat those.

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