Cactus Plants

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Armed and Dangerous; Prickly, Spined and Gorgeous

Many cactus plants are grown as houseplants - it's not because they are so drought tolerant and can put up with neglect, lack of water, and overcrowding. It's not because of their funny shapes, interesting textures and odd arrangements of spines, prickles, fuzz or wool.

Cacti - armed and dangerous,  yet beautiful too

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It might be because of their gorgeous brightly coloured flowers, in all shades of white, orange, pink or yellow, that are crinkled and look like tissue paper.

It also could be because they are so slow growing and really don't need constant fussing over.

Whatever it is, cactus plants are one of the most commonly collected by home owners with a sunny window sill to fill.

Cacti come in all shapes, sizes and growth habits.

Native to arid deserts and harsh conditions, they've evolved to take advantage of short periods of wet weather to store it for the times when there is no water available, which could be years.

Notocactus rutilans

They are known as 'succulents' for this characteristic.

Drought in these areas is common, so the cactus plants that grow here have adapted to these challenging conditions.

Many cactus plants have thick leathery skin, with a waxy coating to prevent moisture loss. They also have spines to prevent animals from eating them; they are after all, full of moisture.

They have two distinct types of roots; a long thick taproot, also capable of storing moisture, and a network of fine hair like roots close to the base of the plant.

This enables the plant to seek out moisture in lower layers of soil with the long taproot, and also be ready in the case of a rain shower that only sprinkles the surface. These two different kinds of roots cover every eventuality.

The desert looks like a dry and inhospitable place, until about a week after a heavy rainfall.

Then, suddenly, buds explode into action, and flowers of all shapes and sizes open to attract insects to pollinate them, a rare event, and one that they take every advantage of.

In some areas, the blooming of the desert is a long awaited spectacle, with tourists arriving from all over the country to see it.

Find out more about Cacti below...

See what other visitors have said...

weird round cactus or succulent, not sure 
I'm not quite sure what this is, but I purchased it at the swap meet a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I was in awe with the plant itself that I forgot …

Medusa Cactus 
We would like to know what kind of cactus this is to replicate the idea

what type of cactus is this? 
Can you tell me what type of cactus this is? Hi Darren, I'm going to plead ignorance, because my knowledge of cacti isn't extensive. I'll ask a few …

Short upright cactus with white edges and short stubby thorns on the 6 lobes 
I saw this plant in a nursery in Bloemfontein South Africa, but I have no idea whether it is indigenous or not. Could you please help me to identify …

Help! Shrinking and need id! 
Hi, I live in a dorm, and I'm 14. Last year in Arizona I bought this potted cactus to bring a piece of home with me. It means a lot to me, but now …

Small round cactus with small spines protruding out of white patches 
Hi Could you please assist me by identifying this succulent. It's a small round cactus with small spines protruding out of white patches in symmetrical …

Hi, I bought 6 succulent plants from B&Q, and need to know if they're cacti or some other succulent, so I know if they're safe around my cat. After …

A round cactus with flowering top. 
This is for our desert project. Drought Smart Plants reply: Hi Allysah, I'm not an expert on cacti identification, as there are so many different …

Short, columnar, six-lobed cactus with short black thorns. 
I found this guy looking rather forlorn in the discount section at Lowe's garden center, but there was no identifying tag! I bought him and gave him a …

Cactus in form of fingers with bright orange flowers 
Its a pinkish green when its outside, but i have seen it in offices where it is bright green. I guess sun exposure has a lot to do with color. It bloomed …

Cylindrical dark green succulent with fleshy tufts 
Hi, We have the plant featured in the lower left corner of this picture: Picture of Aloe polyphylla and other cacti and succulents ; That's …

Small and spiny 
This plant is about 2.5 inches tall, oval shaped, covered in spines, all with red tips; the ones on top are completely red. What is this, and how do I …

Fast growing! 
No idea what this is other than we like it.Dont know where to start looking to find out. Do hope you can help us. Many thanks Without a little more …

Round Cactus 
hello jacki ok this is a small cactus that has sort of gray color or dark green or both , not sure but i do know its Small Drought Smart Plants …

Sharp 1inch spikes on a round foot high cactus 
Sharp 1inch spikes on a round foot high cactus Drought Smart Plants reply: Boy, that's one you wouldn't want to accidentally sit on! I have to …

Pink Flowering round shaped. 
I just bought it at school. It had pink flowers with yellow insides. And it also has diamond shaped things sticking out with about 8 or nine spikes each …

soggy red headed irish man 
my red headed Irish man started to lean the other day, I assumed it got bumped and went to re plant in the dirt and as soon I touched the bottom, it just …

sharp little spikes 
I found this seedling in my garden approximately three years ago. Looks like a cactus about 18 inches tall. Drought Smart Plants reply: Hi …

Want your succulents to survive the winter?  Learn how to bring them indoors and be happy and healthy with this free e-course;  Fill in your name and email address on the form below to enroll!

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