Photo by Melody

A Basic Introduction To Cacti and Succulents

By Mitch Fitzgerald (MitchFJuly 1, 2008
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With an amazing array of shapes and sizes, textures and blooms – Cacti and succulents really are the biggest and most widespread of possibilities in houseplants and outdoor wonders. So let’s dive into a short look at the various types of Cacti and Succulents that we can find in most garden centers.

Gardening pictureAgave - With sharp spines and large strap-like leaves, the Agave plants are one of the most amazing plants in the desert garden. These plants really are the key to a wonderful outdoor garden display, with varieties from very large to very very small. Thank you to Monocromatico for the image.

ImageAloe - This is a versatile and stunning plant that can be helpful in the garden and in the house. Everything from ointment for burns to wonderful cut flowers for the kitchen table comes from Aloe. This is a worthwhile plant to grow. Thank you to palmbob for the image.

ImageCleistocactus - Growing one to six feet tall, this is a stunning desert cactus. Only the very large plants will flower but it is well worth the time to wait to see the wonderful blooms. Thank you to palmbob for the image.

ImageCrassula - With such plants as the ever-popular Jade Plant, this is a wonderful group for the budding cacti gardener. The plants are easy to grow and propagate with almost any part of th6e plant growing a new plant! They are easy to grow and very forgiving---the perfect starter plant. Thank you to palmbob for the image.

ImageEcheveria - Growing from little rosettes off the mother plant, this is a plant that, with the right conditions, will fill in nicely. The pure forms will take more shade and frost but they are best grown in the house in most of the U.S. Thank you to Lee for the image.

ImageEpiphyllum - The orchid cactus and friends are stunning plants. The flowers are mostly nocturnal and they last only one day. They are among the most popular cacti to grow and keep for houseplants. Thank you to alhanks for the image.

ImageEuphorbia - This wonderful plant is commonly known as the Crown of Thorns. Their blooms, set against the deep green leaves, sit high above the pot on wonderful spiny stems and are the perfect cacti for any well lit area. They come in a wide array of colors. Thank you to Happenstance for the image.

ImageKalanchoe - Succulent grown for its attractive flowers. It is a good house plant if given a very sunny place in the home. It will not tolerate frost. Thank you to kniphofia for the image.

ImageLithops - Living stone are among the most amazing plants in the desert plant category. Water moderately if grown indoors but give good drainage. They will not stand frost, but they are wonderful in the house during the long winter months. Thank you to Xenomorf for the image.

ImageMammillaria - These are among the freest flowering of all desert plants. This is a wonderful plant that grows in globe like balls with flowers nested within. Thank you to palmbob for the image.

ImageOpuntia - These are the most famous pad cactus. They are the classic plants you see in the deep southwest. They are the single biggest symbol of Mexico and are very easy to grow. There are newer thornless types and everything from green to purple pads in the market today. It is a plant you can grow that is a perfect accent for your garden. Thank you to palmbob for the image.

ImageRhipsalidopsis and Schlumbergera - These are the most common cacti to find at a big box store. They are often called Easter and Christmas cactus for their ability to bloom at those times of the year. These are forest cacti and thus do not need or want full sun. Thank you to PotEmUp for the image.

ImageSedum - These are simple and easy to grow. They thrive indoors or out, poor soil or rich. They are a great plant that should be seen more in gardens across America. The stunning flowers are the crown of this simple and easy to grow plant. It is propagated from stems, leaves, or roots simply and is easy to grow. Thank you to palmbob for the image.

ImageSempervivum - This is the family of the famous Hen and Chicks plant. They are varied with different requirements for sun, temperature, and moisture. The colors and growth patterns are stunning and the perfect accent in any décor. Thank you to mystic for this image.

So this is a quick walk through the basic, simple varieties of cacti. The deeper you try, the more varieties you will learn to love and add to your collection. Just be warned that growing cacti are among the best and most addictive plants in the world, so be ready and make sure you have space!


  About Mitch Fitzgerald  
Mitch FitzgeraldI am a pentecostal preacher, gardener,husband, and a father. I love natives, daylilies, iris, and roses. I love teaching others, be they children or adults, about the garden and plants.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Grass vs. Desert Landscaping in Arizona roxyg 0 2 Mar 19, 2012 7:04 AM
my kalanchoe (paddle plant) mewho 1 7 Aug 7, 2009 3:41 PM
sabra cactus in new jersey parismom 0 8 Jul 8, 2009 4:02 PM
SPIDER MITE - HELP! SuzanneLA 0 5 Mar 27, 2009 1:52 AM
CACTUS MarciaS 5 27 Oct 14, 2008 8:03 AM
CAUTION IS NEEDED calle 0 38 Jul 8, 2008 2:25 AM
Nice article Aunt_A 0 6 Jul 2, 2008 3:59 AM
Nice phicks 0 4 Jul 1, 2008 11:32 PM
Another great article Mitch Debbie2007 0 7 Jul 1, 2008 10:26 PM
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