The Ultimate Guide to Indoor Cactus Plants

If you’re looking to add some unique and low-maintenance greenery to your home, indoor cacti are the perfect choice. These desert plants not only bring a touch of natural beauty, but they are also incredibly easy to care for. With their diverse shapes, intriguing textures, and occasional vibrant blooms, indoor cacti can transform any space into a captivating oasis.

Types of Indoor Cactus

The best cactus to grow indoors

Indoor cacti are a diverse group, each with its own distinct personality. While they all require some sunlight, many can survive with just a few hours of indirect light each day. Some varieties even thrive in north-facing windows with the help of additional lighting. These fascinating plants are slow-growing and require minimal maintenance, making them perfect for mixed container plantings or standalone displays. Let’s explore some of the best indoor cacti that will enhance the beauty of your home.

1. Indoor Cactus ‘Opuntia Microdasys’ (Bunny Ears or Angel Wings Cactus)

The Opuntia Microdasys, also known as the bunny ears or angel wings cactus, belongs to the prickly pear family. This indoor cactus is characterized by evenly spaced clutches of hairs that resemble bunny ears rather than spines. It typically stays small, but with time and proper care, it can reach up to five feet in height. This cactus surprises with pale yellow blooms, followed by red, edible fruits.

Indoor Cactus Plants - angel wings cactus

2. Indoor Cactus ‘Aporocactus Flagelliformis’ (Rat Tail Cactus)

The Aporocactus Flagelliformis, commonly known as the rat tail cactus, is a stunning indoor cactus native to Mexico. Its vibrant magenta-toned blooms make it a standout choice for indoor gardening. This extraordinary cactus has been used in traditional medicine, particularly for heart problems. To showcase its beauty, consider planting it in a hanging basket and watch it bloom with joy.

Further reading:  The Wonderful World of Fruits and Vegetables

Indoor cactus Rat tail cactus

3. ‘Echinocactus Grusonii’ (Barrel Cactus)

The Echinocactus Grusonii, also known as the barrel cactus, is a classic desert denizen that can be grown as an indoor houseplant. Despite its formidable appearance, this cactus has a fuzzy crown of fine spines that protect its succulent and edible pulp. With ample sunlight, minimal watering, and a loose potting mix, this cactus can thrive and reach towering heights of up to ten feet.

Types of indoor cactus - Echinocactus grusonii

4. ‘Astrophytum Myriostigma’ (Bishop’s Cap)

The Astrophytum Myriostigma, also known as the bishop’s cap cactus, is an astonishing indoor cactus that can be a real eye-catcher when placed in a ceramic pot. This variety is known for its stiff spikes that form deeply ridged spheres, creating a unique and striking appearance. Despite its delicate look, this cactus requires minimal water and constant sunlight to thrive.

bishops cap cactus

5. ‘Carnegiea Gigantea’ (Saguaro Cactus)

The Saguaro cactus, also known as Carnegiea Gigantea, is an iconic plant that dominates the Sonoran desert landscape. While it typically grows to immense proportions outdoors, it can be cultivated as an indoor houseplant with patience and care. This slow-growing cactus can live for centuries and, with enough sunlight and sparing watering, can bring a touch of the desert into your home.

Saguaro cactus - best cactus to grow indoors

6. ‘Schlumbergera x Buckley’ (Christmas Cactus)

The Christmas cactus, scientifically known as Schlumbergera x Buckleyi, is a unique indoor cactus with smooth segmented leaves and soft, rounded spines. Unlike most cacti, this succulent is native to tropical rainforests and requires a different care approach. Moderate watering, filtered light, and cooler temperatures in winter can encourage this cactus to bloom beautifully.

Indoor Cactus Schlumbergera Buckleyi

7. ‘Mammillaria Plumosa’ (Feather Cactus)

The Mammillaria Plumosa, also known as the feather cactus, is a captivating indoor cactus species with clumping plants that form low dense mounds covered in white feathery spines. These delicate “feathers” not only add visual interest but also shade the plant from heat and sun. This indoor cactus produces yellowish-white flowers, creating a charming display.

Further reading:  The Resilient ZZ Plant: Care, Repotting, and Propagation Guide

Indoor Cactus Type - feather cactus

8. ‘Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii’ (Moon Cactus)

The Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii, commonly known as the moon cactus, is a delightful mutant cactus native to South America. Its colorful top part is actually a combination of two cacti, resulting in vibrant shades not typically found in the wild. This cactus requires indirect light and special care due to its lack of chlorophyll. With proper attention, it can bring a unique touch to your indoor plant collection.

Indoor cactus Types

9. ‘Euphorbia Trigona’ (African Milk Tree)

The Euphorbia Trigona, also known as the African milk tree, is a striking indoor cactus that can reach heights of over 8 feet. With its green leaves growing among thorns on ridged stems, this cactus adds an exotic touch to any space. Following a simple watering schedule and providing well-draining soil will keep this cactus healthy and thriving for decades.

Euphorbia Trigona African Milk Tree Cactus

10. ‘Selenicereus Anthonyanus’ (Ric Rac Cactus)

The Selenicereus Anthonyanus, also known as the ric rac cactus, is an enchanting hanging indoor cactus. Its unique zig-zag stems have earned it various names, including fishbone cactus and orchid cactus. This tropical cactus thrives in bright indirect light and needs protection from direct sunlight that may scorch its delicate stems. With appropriate care, it can become a beautiful hanging addition to your indoor garden.

Selenicereus Anthonyanus aka Zig zag Cactus

How to Care for Indoor Cacti?

Growing indoor cacti is a breeze with the right care. These hardy plants require strong, daily sunlight and minimal watering, mimicking their natural desert habitat. Here are some essential care tips for your indoor cacti:

Sunlight Requirements

Place your indoor cacti in a bright area that receives plenty of indirect light. South-facing windows are ideal, but be cautious of direct sunlight, as it can cause the cacti to turn yellow. Different cacti species have varying light requirements, so it’s essential to research your specific plant’s needs.

Further reading:  20 Houseplants with Striking Red Leaves to Bring Life to Your Indoor Garden

Temperature and Humidity

Indoor cacti prefer warm temperatures but can tolerate cooler conditions. Avoid exposing them to cold drafts or direct blasts from air conditioning or heating vents. Fortunately, cacti thrive in low humidity, making them well-suited for the typically dry air found in most homes. There’s no need to mist or spray them!

Fertilizing

Feed your indoor cacti with a balanced plant food diluted to 50% strength, focusing on the active growing season. Specialized cactus fertilizers are also available. Apply fertilizers sparingly, around two to three times a year, to avoid overfeeding.

Watering

Cacti have unique water requirements, as they are adapted to survive with little hydration. Allow the soil to dry completely between waterings, and only water when necessary. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues. Remember, it’s better to underwater than to overwater your indoor cacti.

Re-potting

Re-pot your cacti when they outgrow their current containers, usually in the spring. The process is simple: water the plant, gently remove it from the pot, clear away old soil, place it in a slightly larger pot with fresh potting mix, and allow it to settle for a few days before watering again.

Caring for indoor cacti is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. By providing the right conditions and minimal maintenance, you can enjoy the unique beauty of these fascinating plants in the comfort of your own home.

Remember, each indoor cactus has its own specific needs, so it’s essential to research and understand the requirements of the variety you choose. With their stunning shapes, mesmerizing textures, and occasional vibrant blooms, indoor cacti are sure to add a touch of natural wonder to your living space. Start your indoor cactus collection today and watch it flourish into a captivating desert sanctuary.

For more information and an extensive selection of indoor cacti, visit the Ames Farm Center.