Generally, cacti are flowering plants. Therefore, almost every type of cactus species is capable of flowering when it is mature and in the right conditions. Whether or not your cactus plant blooms will largely depend on its age and the care you provide. While some cacti plants bloom at a relatively younger age, others won’t flower until they are at least 30 years old.
So, how often does a cactus flower bloom? Typically, cacti plants bloom at least once a year, although wetter years may lead to more flowering periods. Most cacti species flower in spring when the weather conditions are near perfect. The greatest diversity of spring-flowering cacti species can be seen in April. Some also stretch into May with some species such as the prickly pears cactus blooming well in early May. Saguaros tend to flower from mid-may to mid-June.
In this article, we provide you with valuable information you need to know about flowering in cacti plants. Get to learn when to expect your cacti plants to start flowering, how to create the right environment to stimulate flowering, and much more. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
When Do Cacti Plants Flower?
A significant number of cacti plants have a unique sculptural quality to them. Cacti flowers are gorgeous and come in a wide range of striking colors. In fact, you shouldn’t be surprised to see several colors in one cactus flower.
Most cacti plants flower in the spring, during the day. However, a few species will bloom in summer during the night.
Here is a breakdown of when and how cacti plant flower:
After resting all winter and being confined to a state of dormancy, most cacti plants will spring back to life once the warm weather kicks in. With the light spring rains and warm weather, everything is set for another flowering season.
At that time, temperatures are not yet excessively hot, so your cacti plants are in a better position to put on a fantastic floral show. Even when there is insufficient rainfall, they will use the water stored in their stems to flower.
In some parts of North America, these plants will start to flower as soon as March, with April being the peak flowering month. In May, the prickly pear cactus shoots into life and starts to put on its floral show.
Not all cacti plants flower in spring. Some of them will wait until summer to start flowering. Cacti plants that bloom in the hot summer temperatures are generally the large growing species that store a lot of water in their stems.
The water stored in their stems helps them to flower easily, even when daytime temperatures soar to extreme highs. Saguaros are known for their habit of flowering in summer. These impressive cacti plants that can reach up to a height of 60 feet tall when fully grown won’t start flowering until they are at least 40 years old.
The Carnegiea gigantea (a type of Saguaro), which grows to a height of up to 50 feet tall, usually starts to flower in mid-May to mid-June when the temperatures are so high.
The heavily-bodied barrel cactus is another type of cacti that blooms from spring to summer. This type of cacti produces orange, bright red, or yellow flowers depending on the species. For instance, the Fishhook barrel cactus, which is the most common type of barrel cacti, produces yellow flowers.
Some cacti plants also flower at night, which helps the plant to conserve water during the hot season. The Peruvian cactus is a good example of a cactus plant that blooms at night. Its trumpet-shaped flower usually features a sweet fragrance and is approximately five inches in diameter.
The cereus is another common type of night-blooming cactus. It produces white flowers on its flattened stem in both spring and summer. A lot of people love the cereus for its oval, red fruit known as the dragon fruit.
The Christmas Cactus: A Special Type of Cactus
The Christmas cactus is perhaps the most common type of cacti grown worldwide. The Christmas cactus announces its flowering season through its name. With its flat and leaf-like stem, the Christmas cactus is known to bloom in December just around the Christmas period.
This cactus species originated from the tropical rainforests of Brazil, but many hybrids of this precious succulent exist today. Depending on conditions and your region’s climatic conditions, a Christmas cactus can produce white, red, purple, pink, or salmon-colored flowers.
When grown indoors, in order to flower at Christmas time, it requires cold nights and more than 13 hours of darkness throughout the day. It is commonly referred to as the Thanksgiving Cactus because it can easily be manipulated to flower in November instead of December.
Does Every Cactus Flower?
As mentioned earlier, cacti are flowering plants. This means that all cacti species can grow flowers when they are mature. The key to your cactus starting to flower is waiting for its maturity age and providing the right conditions.
Keep in mind that some cacti plants can take 30 or more years to reach maturity. Some species, such as the Saguaro, may take even longer to mature and start flowering. Other cacti species will not bloom even after maturity unless they get the right amount of light, water, and fertilizer.
Cacti plants grown indoors are notorious for not flowering since they do not get the right balance of light and darkness. Typically, the time it will take your cactus plant to flower depends on its size.
Giant cacti plants, such as the Saguaro, may take up to ten times longer to reach maturity compared to the small size plants. Below are the three common cacti shapes and their flowering behavior:
The tall-growing columnar cacti usually take many years before they flower for the first time if grown from seed. However, if you root a branch from a mature and already-blooming columnar cactus, the new plant will keep flowering once it is separated from the mother plant and rooted.
Unfortunately, some types of columnar cacti such as the Carnegiea gigantea (Saguaro) have branches that won’t root. Therefore, it can only be grown from seed with a 30-40 year wait period before it starts flowering.
Some columnar cacti plants produce their first flower after 10-20 years and can live outdoors throughout the year. Some good examples include the Peruvian Cactus that produces glittering white flowers and the Senita Cactus that produces pink flowers.
The good thing is that those columnar cacti are still effective landscaping plants even without the flowers.
Some of the best flowering cacti plants are from this category. Many of them can start flowering as early as three or four years after sprouting. Two of the most popular cacti plants in this category are the Pincusion Cactus and the Rebutia Cactus.
Both of them produce beautiful flowers once they reach maturity. The flowers come in a wide range of colors, including green, orange, purple, pink, magenta, white, and red.
Although a majority of cacti plants in this category are round when young, most of them tend to elongate to small columns upon maturity.
Short columnar cacti with stems typically start to bloom within five years after maturity. The Easter Lily Cactus, Peanut Cactus, and the Hedgehog Cactus are three of the most popular examples of short-stem cacti.
The Easter Lily Cactus produces huge funnel-shaped flowers in red, magenta, pink, lavender, and white. Its stem is two-three inches long covered with numerous spines. The cactus mostly crawls on the ground and produces abundant flowers after reaching maturity.
How to Get Your Cacti Plants to Bloom
So, what are you supposed to do if your mature cactus doesn’t show signs of flowering? Well, you will want to ensure that the conditions are right.
First, if you are growing your plants indoors during the winter season, try to position them in the coolest spot. While you may be tempted to find them a warm place, the truth is that these plants do require a chilling period to get ready for flowering. If your plants are outside in the cold, find a way of keeping them dry all the time.
Do not water them during the period of dormancy and wait for signs of growth before you resume watering. This will encourage flowering. If you have not positioned your plants in a full sunlight position, do so but only expose them to the morning sun. Move them to shaded areas in the afternoon.
Gradually acclimatize your plants to the sun to avoid sunburns. You can start by exposing them to the sun for one or two hours a day and increase the frequency weekly until your plants are getting between four to six hours of sunlight every day. Consider using artificial lights if there is no sunshine.
Once you start watering again, consider feeding your plants with small amounts of high phosphorus fertilizer as well. Use the fertilizer at half strength after watering. Pay attention to your fertilizer because nitrogen fertilizer is not suitable for cacti plants and other succulents.
As long as you do everything right and your plants have reached a maturity stage, it won’t be long before you start to see the beautiful flowers sprout.
Most of us tend to bring our cacti plants indoors during winter and cover them to protect them from the freezing temperatures. While this is necessary for extremely cold areas, by doing so, you may also be creating conditions where your plants won’t flower.
Too much heat, overwatering, and not finding the right balance between darkness and light can all result in your cacti plants not flowering.
We hope the information we have discussed here will help you find ways of ensuring your cactus blooms when its right comes.