Cactus is a unique plant that comes in a variety of sizes. While some are huge and may grow to heights of up to 40 feet, others are small enough to fit into small pots at home. Small cactus have recently become a huge sensation and used as indoor plants. These come in a variety of colors and shapes and provide additional ambience to the home when blended with other notable house plants. While most of these small cactus varieties are adapted for the deserts, they can also thrive as indoor plants with the right propagation and care.
So what are the best small cactus for your indoors? Small cactus varieties come in various shapes and colors, but the most ideal species for indoors are those that do not need much sunlight can fit into small pots and are slow-growing. Some of these include the following:
- Moon Cactus
- Bunny Ear cactus
- Rat Tail
- Old Lady Cactus
- Christmas Cactus
- Star Cactus
This article will be looking at some of the smallest cactus can be grown as indoor plants. It will look at their features in terms of propagation, adaptations and suitability as indoor plants.
1. Moon Cactus
Moon cactus is one of the most recognizable indoor cacti, thanks to its unique shape and a variety of colors that range from yellow to pink, red and orange. These bright neon colors are usually noted in its ball-shaped appearance. They would usually be sitting on top of another green colored typed of cacti.
The moon cactus is a product of human design as the cactus on its own cannot thrive. As such, it needs to be grafted on another green cactus to help offer chlorophyll to make its food. This makes it two plants in one. The beautifully, brightly colored part of the moon cactus cannot produce chlorophyll independently, thus the need to graft it onto another plant.
Moon cactus is an ideal indoor cacti, especially to the first-timers in horticulture because it’s low on maintenance. They can be used to add some pomp and color to your window seal, living room or porch area. For best results, moon cactus should be positioned in a bright area but away from direct sunlight. In terms of water requirements, moon cactus, just like any other cactus adapted for the deserts do not need much water. Be careful not to overwater as this may lead to root rot and eventually death of the cactus.
When grown indoors, moon cactus can drastically improve the overall look of your home and complement the indoor décor thanks to its variety of colors. You may choose to go for one specific color or use a mix of what is available. What’s more, moon cacti are slow-growing and can grow to a maximum of about six inches. Remember, the health of your moon cactus will highly depend on that of the stock. As such, it is important to choose an ideal stock cactus that will blend well with your moon cactus.
2. Bunny Ear cactus
The bunny ear cactus is a small desert plant that perfectly fits the indoor environment. It is native to Mexico but can be found in most arid and semi-arid areas. It is one of the most popular indoor plants thanks to its unique appearance with pads that mimic rabbit ears. Growing the bunny ears as an indoor plant is simple; all you have to do is ensure the growing conditions are as close to its natural habitat as possible. So with some dry, sunny and low humidity conditions, you can easily grow the bunny ears as an indoor plant.
While in its natural habitat, bunny ears can grow to a height of 3 feet. When grown indoors, however, the cactus grows to a maximum height of 2 feet, making it a perfect indoor plant. What’s more, it is slow-growing, thus giving you enough time to enjoy its trappings and beauty. The bunny ears does not grow spines but instead develop glochids in the form of whitish brown prickles.
For better development, bunny ears should be repotted after every one or two years. This should give you more time to enjoy its interesting features.
3. Rat Tail Cactus
The rat tail cactus is an exciting plant native to Central America and southwestern Mexico. It stands out with its long, trailing steps that mimic a rat’s tail, thus its nickname. These stems grow to a maximum of 4 feet. When grown indoors, the rat rail cactus will thrive best when grown in hanging baskets or pots. This enables its trailing stems to get enough space to manifest in its natural growth sequence.
Rat rain cactus comes in many varieties and will bloom in spring and early summer with violet-red blooms. Depending on the variety, however, it can sometimes produce orange and pink-colored flowers. The flowers are fairly large and tubular but will only last a couple of days. Rat rail cactus can be propagated using its stems that grow rapidly under the right conditions. However, you will need to be careful when handling its stems as it grows spines that can prick your skin easily.
4. Old Lady Cactus
The Old Lady cactus, otherwise known as Mammallaria Hahniana is a popular, sun-loving powder puff cactus that can be grown indoors. It stands out with its lone spherical stems that can grow to about 4 inches tall and 8 inches wide. When grown indoors, the cactus should be positioned in a sunny area for better development. If this is not possible, provide some outdoor time during the summer months.
The best spots to position your Old lady cactus indoors would be by the window as these spots tend to receive enough sun or light for most of the day. However, in cases where you cannot find the best spot with enough light, you may consider using grow lights to help supplement the lighting needs for your cactus.
The Old lady cactus gets its nickname from its white, thin and flexible hairs that may grow as long as 5 centimeters. As the plant reaches maturity, these hairs grow richer and thicker and tend to curl, thus cloaking the plant.
5. Christmas Cactus
The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii) otherwise known as the Easter or Thanksgiving cactus is an interesting plant that blooms just in time for the holidays, thus its name. Its propagation and care are pretty simple, making it a favorite for holiday gift-giving.
The cactus can be propagated from cuttings and will thrive better under moderate indoor conditions. However, Christmas cactus should be kept away from too much sunlight to avoid its leaves getting burnt. Notably, the Christmas cactus blooms with bright colors, but dramatic temperature swings and lack of enough water may cause flower buds to drop prematurely.
To help maximize its blooming period, ensure that you maintain optimal temperatures of about 65 degrees and always keep the soil moist during the blooming period. It is also a good idea to apply for high potassium fertilizer once every two weeks and report yearly after every flowering period.
6. Star Cactus
The Star Cactus (Astrophytum asteria) is one of the few spineless cacti and stands out with its chubby round body that mimics a sand dollar. The fact that it is also easy to grow makes it a perfect candidate for an indoor plant. Its round body may grow to about 6 inches wide. It features some gently ridged sides and covered with some tiny white dots.
The Astrophytum cactus blooms between March and May. Its flowers are bright yellow with orange centers. These would later fade out to give way for some berries or drupes in late spring. When grown indoors, this cactus will not need much attention apart from the occasional watering and access to full sunlight. The star cactus is known to store a lot of water, thanks to its shape. These come in handy in times of drought. However, be careful and avoid over-watering as this may lead to root rot.
The cactus is not poisonous to animals and humans, thus making it just the perfect indoor plant. However, it would be best if you practiced caution when handling it as it can be pretty prickly.
When it comes to keeping your indoors as serene as possible, you do not want to take chances. If you are a cactus enthusiast, you would see the need to go for one of the various small cactus species suitable for indoor environments. While the list is endless, there are common ones that can survive in most environments and are readily available. The best thing about these small cactus species is that they are easy to maintain and will not need much attention apart from the occasional watering and fertilization.