If you have the notion that cactuses have stunted growth just because they grow in harsh desert conditions, then you’re wrong. That climate that other plants find harsh and unfavorable for growth is perfect for many cacti varieties. Cactuses are capable of growing into giant trees when exposed to their natural habitats. Well, they can take years to grow large, with others like saguaro taking up to 200 years to reach full maturity, but they eventually reach the size no matter how long it takes.
Cactus plants vary in size, shape, and habitat. While many people will associate large cacti with the wild, they also make a statement in home gardens. The large cacti still make perfect indoor plants because of their slow growth. You can move them outside once they start to enlarge. Another thing about large cacti is that they’re not too demanding in terms of care and can ideally create a bold and trendy statement if they find perfect growth conditions.
Take a look at these ten large cacti types that add the perfect statement to your gardens. You can pick your favorite one according to what you want to achieve. Whether you want large cacti for a garden ornament, indoor beauty plants, or beautiful fence posts, one of these cactuses will come to your aid.
1. Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)
Saguaro cactus is the largest in the U.S and is treated as an icon to west American. The cactus grows up to 40 feet tall if the conditions allow it. However, the cactus grows at a very slow rate, with most of its growth noticeable at the tip or the top. It can take saguaro up to 10 years to record an inch in its height.
Saguaro cactus can reach a height of six and a half inches by the time it reaches 70 years. This is the time when you might start seeing the long-awaited blooms. Saguaro will continue producing milky white flowers with a sweet scent after reaching this age. You’ll see the blooms adorning your garden in late spring and early summers.
By 95-100 years, saguaro will reach around 15 to 16 inches, and you might see its first firm arm. Saguaro cactus reaches its maturity by 200 years old, and it records up to 45 feet tall at this age. Others might have several arms at the maturity time, while some may not produce even one branch. If you plant saguaro now, the chances are that you’ll not live to witness its maturity. But you’ll still appreciate something your grandchildren will remember you for.
2. Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)
Just like the name, barrel cactus is another large growing cactus you can ever find at home or in the wild. The barrel is common in households and home gardens with their yellow flowers. It has turned out to be a popular addition to gardens in many regions hence has a widespread demand. It’s very hard to find the golden barrel cactus in the wild because it has been dug for years. But no, it’s not disappearing because its popularity as a garden ornament continues to grow with many people transplanting.
The globe-shaped cactus makes a perfect ornament for patios, conservatories, and other indoor rooms. But these cactuses only flower when you move them outdoors as they can have a hard time blooming indoors.
The cactus is known to record rapid growth during its first few years of planting and slow down after that. During the first few years, the cactus will grow up to three feet tall and three feet in diameter. You’ll then have to tend to your cactus for up to ten years for it to grow to 10 feet in diameter and height. They can reach this size when exposed to conditions similar to natural habitat.
The cactus grows in a ribbed stem with yellowish spines though you can also find spineless ones. The crown forms white-colored woolen hairs at its top. Golden barrel makes a perfect ornament for an exotic appearance as well as its hardy nature. The golden spines on its spherical shape body have given it a pincushion shape. This has earned it the nickname ‘mother-in-law’s cushion.’
3. Totem Pole Cactus (Pachycereus schottii)
The totem pole is a slow-growing cactus, but this doesn’t mean it won’t grow large eventually. The club-shaped cactus is an undemanding one making it fun to grow in your home and perfect for beginner gardeners. It forms irregularly-shaped green stems with some areolas and odd-shaped tubercles. The plant develops individual stems that branch at the base and higher in vertical stems.
Totem pole cactus mainly reaches 6 inches in diameter and takes a silvery sheen appearance. When fully matured, the cactus can grow to a maximum height of 10 to 12 feet. It’s a pretty simple cactus to grow. It won’t get bothered by insects and pests and grow pretty well as long as it doesn’t receive too much water.
One thing that makes the totem pole cactus unique is that it’s among the cactuses that bloom at night. The flowers appear in late spring and take a light pink shade. They open at dusk and close by mid-morning. The multiple upright arms add to its large size. They make a perfect showy display for the garden. You can be creative with them by using them along with pools and ponds. They can also work well along a tall wall for some architectural effect.
4. Candelabra Cactus (Myrtillocactus cochal)
Candelabra cactus is another large cactus you’re likely to find in the hillside, which is its natural habitat. This cactus mostly grows up to ten feet tall and ten tall feet wide. When grown outdoors in mild conditions, candelabra cactus goes up to 40 feet tall and develops a crown of 25 feet wide. But they can look smaller when used as houseplants because you’ll be controlling their growth.
Apart from the size, you’ll recognize this cactus with its cup-shaped flowers that open when the sun is up and closes when the sun goes out. This is another edible cactus though the fruits are somehow acidic.
Apart from growing in the hillside, the cactus can also adorn rock gardens and xeriscape. This is a drought-tolerant plant that is very easy to care for. But this cactus is unique from its kind because it thrives so well when given more water, especially during the summer months.
Candelabra cactus is admirable from all aspects of it. It has a beautiful funnel shape, ivory flowers, dark green branches, and a unique woody trunk. Its branches produce six to eight ribs with a central spine surrounded by shorter radial spines in every areola. Its white, cupped flowers appear in late spring to early summer. The cactus does well when mixed with other succulents in the garden. It mostly appreciates rock gardens or raised planters.
Golden ball cactus grows into large clusters, making it a perfect fit for the category of large cactuses. Others call this cactus lemon ball, while others call it yellow tower cactus. All the names perfectly fit this cactus that grows up to three feet tall. The balls are resistant to fire hence perfect for protecting the landscape against fire hazards.
Don’t confuse this cactus with golden barrels, although they almost look the same. Their biggest differentiating factor is that the golden balls start in a globular shape, which turns columnar as they grow older. They make perfect plants for beginner gardeners as they’re easy to grow as long as they get some shade during the hottest hours.
This beautiful cactus comes with gentle yellow spines that have a soft glow. When given enough space, the plants can reach up to 24 inches tall and four inches wide. But you can manage the size better by growing them in pots.
6. Mexican Fence Post Cactus (Pachycereus marginatus)
Just mentioning the name ‘fence post’ already tells you that this is indeed a large cactus. Well, a Mexican fence post can grow up to 16 feet high. It also forms individual stems that grow between three and eight inches in diameter. Its radial spines appear yellowish to gray. The cactus itself grows in a green tree-like shape. They grow in columns and tend to be solitary.
This beautiful cactus is perfect as a fence for your garden. In fact, Mexicans use it as a living fence thanks to its upright growth and showy columnar shape. It got its ‘fence post’ name due to the fact that many Mexicans use it as a fence post. The cactus not only adorns your garden with beautiful posts but also with beautiful blooms that appear around mid and early spring.
For Mexican fence post cactus to grow well, you need to treat it to frequent watering, especially when it’s too hot outside. The plant doesn’t like frost, so consider protecting it with Styrofoam cups on the tips. If you want some dramatic effect in your home, consider planting near bright colored walls. It’s a relatively low maintenance cactus that can also do well when planted in desert or tropical settings.
7. Cowboy Cactus (Euphorbia Acruensis)
Cowboy cactus is also known as Euphorbia and is a very rare succulent making them a kind of gem. Although they’re not true cactus, they can still form the category of the largest indoor plants of the cacti family. Like other cactuses, the cowboy is easy to plant and care for.
They’ll not be too demanding of your time as long as you give them enough light and water when dry. The slow-growing plant can work well in indoor care as long as it receives enough light and ventilation. The plant makes a great architectural feature in mixed planting when used in an outdoor space.
The cowboy cactus stuns every gardener with its beautiful deep green color and stunning upright shape. The plant grows up to 1.5 meters tall if it’s happy. Watch out for the white sap in the plant as it can cause skin and eye irritation. If you have children and pets at home, refrain from planting cowboy cactus indoors because the spikes and the milky sap can be dangerous.
8. Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis)
The old man is one of the most popular cacti you can find in gardens and the wild. Its popularity can be attributed to the fact that the old man cactus is easy to propagate both in seeds and cutting. The old man grows tall and forms a columnar. It has a branching growth with the body covered in long and wooly hair that almost resembles a beard. This is where it got its beautiful name from. The cactus falls in the large cacti category because it can grow up to 49 feet when used as an outdoor plant. When potted, the old man cactus can grow really slow but still look great.
Not only the white hair covering the body has made old man cactus attractive, but there’s more to its beauty. The stunning succulent also wows its growers with beautiful blooms that come from the stems. When the cactus reaches a height of 20 feet, it will start producing the stunning flowers that mostly come out at night. The flowers have attractive colors, which appear pink outside and white within. When matured, old man cactus produces pinkish-red fruits covered in yellowish hair. You can plant the old man cactus in clusters to harness its beauty.
Younger old man cacti are completely covered in white hair, while the older ones have hairs in the growing tips of the stem. While the wooly hairs can look appealing and inviting to touch, stay away from them as the plant has very sharp spikes beneath the wools.
9. Eve’s Needle Cactus (Austrocylindropuntia subulata)
Don’t let the name needle fool you that this is a needle-sized plant. Eve’s needle perfectly fits the category of large cactuses as it’s capable of growing up to 13 feet tall and 10 feet wide when exposed to its natural habitat. The plant also has awl-like and green-yellow leaves that grow up to five inches when the cactus is mature enough.
Eve’s needle takes its name from the many sharp and tall spines that form in its stem. Younger plants don’t have the spines, but the older ones are full of these yellowish-red and needle-like spines. Eve’s needle produces cylindrical deep green leaves. This cactus rarely blooms, but when it does, you’ll see long, coppery red, snowy flowers that are no doubt worth the long wait. The flowers produce thick, rounded, and thorny fruits. The edible fruits can be up to 10cm long.
Avoid planting Eve’s needle indoors in households full of children and pets. The spines can be a danger to the skin and clothes. The drought-tolerant plant is perfect for xeriscaping. They can do well in almost all conditions except super cold climates. Give it regular watering but be careful not to overwater lest you expose it to rot.
10. Organ Pipe Cactus (Lemaireocereus thurberi)
Organ pipe cactus grows in long stems that resemble sausage links. They got the name organ pipe because of their multi-limbed grows that look like pipes of church organs. The cactus is a tall columnar plant with several ribbed stems branching above the ground. Organ pipe cactus can grow up to 30 feet with 30 feet wide clumps. Their slow growth makes them look smaller in most gardens though their beauty still glows as required.
This cactus produces a beautiful glow that mostly blooms in the evening. The blooming season for the organ spine is in spring. The color varieties of the cactus include purple, white, and pink with numerous petals. Because of their beauty, they can make a perfect statement in the courtyard patio gardens. You can also grow them as raised planters or hedges. They can do well in the sun and minimal winter temperatures.
Organ pipe cactus and other similar species are loved not only because of their beauty; they also produce delicious fruits that natives fancy. Their red fruits are very fleshy and sweet. The cactus is a slow-growing plant, so they can do well in containers when young before transferring them to the garden. They require enough watering, but you should never over irrigate.
Cacti make a perfect addition to the home garden whether you prefer large, tall, or smaller ones. Their beauty starts right from the stems all the way to the beautiful blooms that adorn your garden with the best color shades. Some can even produce delicious fruits that you can enjoy every time they appear.
The large cactuses can display stunted growth at the beginning, but they’ll eventually grow to full maturity and take their ideal size. Just make sure you mimic their natural habitats, and they won’t disappoint. They’re also perfect plants for beginner gardeners because they’re not too demanding in terms of care. Some can even survive neglect but still do well.