Types of cactus: names and care

Cacti are a family of succulent plants, the Cactaceae. Like all succulent plants, they store water in order to survive in drought conditions and very hot environments, and they tend to generate thorns to defend their water reservoirs.

However, the commonalities of these plants end there. There are a large number of varieties of cacti , and their characteristics can vary greatly. From the cardón or Pachycereus pringlei , which can exceed 20 meters in height, to the dwarf cacti, such as the Rebutia, which are less than 5 cm, there is a whole world of cactus species to explore. Join us in this article to learn more about the types of cacti, their names and care .

ypes of cactus and list of names

There are several ways to classify cacti according to the characteristics we look at. Some classifications of common cactus types are as follows:

  • Types of cactus with thorns , such as the Ferocactus.
  • Spineless cactus types , such as Lophophora diffusa.
  • Indoor cactus types , such as Echeveria elegans.
  • Hanging cactus types , such as Schlumbergera truncata.
  • Types of flowering cacti , such as Astrophytum.

Here is a list of some cactus names of these types:

  • Lophophora diffusa or Peyote from Querétaro.
  • Lophophora williamsii or peyote.
  • Lithops salicola.
  • Astrophytum myriostigma or bishop’s bonnet.
  • Ferocactus glaucescens or blue barrel cactus.
  • Mammillaria gracilis.
  • Echinopsis oxygona.
  • Echinopsis pachanoi or San Pedro cactus .
  • Haworthia fasciata or zebra plant.
  • Crassula ovata or jade tree.
  • Echeveria elegans or alabaster rose .
  • Aloe arborescens or octopus or candlestick plant.
  • Opuntia ficus-indica or prickly pear or nopal.
  • Schlumbergera truncata or Christmas cactus.
  • Euphorbia lactea or crest plant.
  • Haworthia cooperi.

Lithops or stone cactus, one of the most curious cactus species

Lithops, also commonly called stone cacti or living stones , are a whole genus of succulents. They have more than 100 species , and they are all native to the southern part of the African continent.

They are some of the types of cactus without thorns and of small size, with a conical body of only two leaves between which there is a crack, where the new leaves and the flower emerge. They are of very varied colors, and are adapted to dry and hot climates. Its flower, which appears in autumn, is nocturnal, very showy and can completely hide the cactus with its daisy-shaped petals.

They are simple cacti to care for , which need a lot of light, little watering and widely spaced transplants, approximately every three years. If they do not flower, it is usually because the plant is still young or it is not receiving enough light or heat. 

Types of cacti: names and care - Lithops or stone cactus, one of the most curious species of cacti

Cactus for Christmas, Easter or Santa Teresa feathers

The Schlumbergera truncata is one of the types of tropical cactus that originated in Brazil, but is now spread throughout much of the world. It is also one of the types of hanging cacti , which in many countries is used to decorate houses at Christmas.

It is also called Easter cactus or Santa Teresa feathers , because of its flowers with this beautiful shape and shades of both white and pink, fuchsia or red, with a body made up of two flared sections and long and elegant leaves. These flowers are very attractive and decorative, which also bloom in winter, which is why it is used in the northern hemisphere to celebrate Christmas.

This cactus needs more humidity than those in a desert climate, so it will need its substrate to always be kept slightly humid, but never flooded. A poor substrate in organic matter is recommended, and fertilize it with specific fertilizer every 15-20 days.

Types of cacti: names and care - Christmas, Easter or Santa Teresa feathers cactus

Euphorbia lactea, candelabra plant or cardón

The candelabrum or cardón plant is a cactus that can reach over 5 meters in height . It gets its nickname that its various branches are reminiscent of those of the candelabra cacti. Its scientific name, on the other hand, is due to the white latex that, like other succulents, it can generate. This product is corrosive and harmful, although it can be used as a purgative, as they do in some parts of India.

The Euphorbia lactea needs transplants every year, as well as being placed in full sun, so it is not suitable for indoors unless it is in very sunny locations. It also does not withstand the cold, so at temperatures below 10 ºC it will not be good outdoors.

Types of cactus: names and care - Euphorbia lactea, candelabra plant or cardón

Cactus care – a basic guide

As cacti are very varied and from different regions of origin, it is best to always consult the specific care that each species needs. However, and always taking into account that it is necessary to insure individually in each case, we can give some general guidelines on the main cacti care :

  • Irrigation: this is the most basic and usually the most important point, along with the location. Most cacti are adapted to dry climates and need very little watering, which can last up to once a month in cold months in some species. Most succulents tolerate excess moisture very poorly, and root rot will appear quickly, as well as fungal attack, if you water too much.
  • Location: Many cacti need full sun to grow properly, but this point is not as widespread. Many other species do not support direct sunlight of great intensity, and tropical ones tend to be better in semi-shade.
  • Compost and substrate: these plants tend to require very little organic matter. Due to this, if you fertilize them, do it with specific fertilizer for cacti, and thus you will not risk damaging the plant instead of strengthening it.

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