Starting Your Cactus Journey: Our Top 7 Picks for Beginners

Cacti for Beginners: The absolute best cacti for beginners. From easy-care to ornamental, these cacti are perfect for the novices among us.

Cacti are amazing plants available to buy and grow in your garden. Most of them are relatively easy to look after and survive, even with neglect. In fact, they are the only group of plants known to be highly forgiving. However, these succulents can still suffer various problems that beginner gardeners might have trouble identifying and dealing with. For instance, some cacti varieties require more water than others, or they may need to be repotted every few years to thrive. This can be daunting for beginners. Luckily, there are some cacti varieties perfect for newbie gardeners who may not have much experience in this area.

So, what are the best cacti for beginners? We can recommend many cacti plants that are relatively easy to grow, but not all of them are easily available in plant nurseries and online stores. So, if we were to pick the best cacti for beginners, we would go with Mammillaria, Rebutia, Echinopsis, Orchid cacti, Barrel cactus, Prickly Pear Cactus, and Gymnocalycium. Others include the Angel Wings cactus, the Rat Tail cactus, the Saguaro cactus, and the Christmas cactus. These cacti are easy to find and relatively low maintenance.

This blog post discusses some of the best cacti for beginners in detail while highlighting their unique characteristics and needs. Read on to learn more.

Mammillaria

Commonly referred to as the “pincushion cactus,” mammillaria remains one of the largest species in the cactus family, with more than 250 varieties. They are also one of the most cultivated cacti species. They vary from relatively small to large clusters and are Native to Mexico.

Mammillaria loves bright, indirect sunlight but can still survive in full light. In fact, exposing it to full light promotes flowering, but you must be careful to avoid causing sunburn.

In summer, water your Mammillaria frequently (every week) but go slow during winter since the plant slides into a state of dormancy.

A person holding a Flowering Mammiliaria in a brown pot.
Exposing it to full light promotes flowering, but you must be careful to avoid causing sunburn.

Consider reducing your watering frequency to once every four or five weeks. The cactus will thrive in relatively cool spots with temperatures of between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mammillaria is known to flower quite easily, but they produce relatively small flowers. The flowers range from white to purple.

Mammillaria is one of the best cacti for beginners due to its easy-going nature, forgiving behavior and resilience. They are also easy to find, and you can find lots of information online on their general care routine.

Rebutia

Rebutia is a special type of cactus that comes from the high altitudes of Bolivia. It has a very relaxed look with its small globular body.

Rebutia is one of the best cacti for beginners because it can survive in low-light conditions as well as relatively harsh conditions.

Unlike Mammillaria, this type of cactus does not require frequent watering and can go for weeks without being watered.

During summer, water your Rebutia occasionally only if the soil is completely dry. During winter, the cactus will not require any watering at all.

Rebutia loves bright indirect sunlight since too much light can lead to sunburns. So, you must limit its exposure to full light, especially during summer when we have extended periods of sunny days.

A flowering rebutia cactus in a pot.
Once you get used to its prickly nature, you will realize that Rebutia is a great choice for a beginner.

It produces bright yellow and red flowers, but only if you expose it to the right amount of light.

Rebutia is not as popular as other cacti species due to its small spines, which can be uncomfortable when handling it.

However, once you get used to its prickly nature, you will realize that Rebutia is a great choice for a beginner.

Barrel Cactus

The barrel cactus belongs to genus Ferocactus known for being fierce and hardy. A typical barrel cactus is usually covered with long, sharp spines that protect its juicy and edible pulp.

In its natural habitat, this cactus species can grow up to 6ft tall and is easy to find in stores. It needs full sun with temperatures of between 55-90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Water your barrel cactus sparingly during summer and let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions. During winter, you can reduce your watering frequency by half or even more, depending on the environment.

Barrel cactus can live for many years and reach great heights. Indoor barrel cactus can easily hit a height of five feet.

The succulent is a great choice for those who want an easy-to-maintain plant that requires little attention and care. Its ability to thrive in the harshest conditions has made it popular amongst beginners and experienced gardeners.

The barrel cactus will produce beautiful flowers (usually yellow or orange) during summer if you provide it with enough sunlight and water.

Echinopsis

Also known as the hedgehog cacti, Echinopsis remains one of the most popular cactus types amongst gardeners.

It is native to South American deserts and boasts beautiful spines that stretch out like hair from its body, making it one of the most unique cacti plants.

A flowering echinopsis in a black pot.
You must grow it in a highly porous and well-draining potting mix to achieve good results at home.

However, its ability to survive in relatively harsh conditions with minimal attention makes it a great choice for beginners.

This succulent loves rich soil in its natural habitat, where it grows pretty quickly since it develops a dense root system for water and mineral absorption.

Therefore, you must grow it in a highly porous and well-draining potting mix to achieve good results at home.

It loves good watering during summer but should only be watered when the soil is completely dry. During winter, water it sparingly to prevent root rot.

Echinopsis can handle variable light conditions, but direct sunlight can damage its spines. Therefore, consider providing it with indirect or filtered sunlight to avoid sunburns.

For temperature and humidity, this cactus is quite hardy, requiring a minimum temperature of 15 degrees Celsius and relative humidity of about 40%.

Echinopsis produces beautiful flowers in bright yellow, pink, and red colors that attract bees and butterflies.

Thelocactus

Thelocactus refers to a cacti genus comprising medium-sized columnar or globular-shaped cacti plants. Cacti plants in this category tend to have many beautiful spikes with a diameter of around 8-20cm.

When growing Thelocactus, you must provide it with an appropriate soil mix (well-draining) and full sun exposure to encourage growth.

In fact, you should only consider growing Thelocactus if you live in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. Water your cacti when the soil is dry and reduce watering frequency during winter.

This cactus species can tolerate some frost, but it is always recommended to keep it indoors during the cold months.

A flowering thelocactus in a pot.
Thelocactus refers to a cacti genus comprising medium-sized columnar or globular-shaped cacti plants.

Thelocactus is a great choice for those who want an easy-to-care-for plant that will grow well in harsh conditions.

It produces attractive flowers in yellow, purple, and red shades, making it a great addition to any indoor or outdoor garden.

Plus, its sturdy and long-lasting nature makes it ideal for those who want a cactus that will last for many years.

Prickly Pear (Opuntia Cactus)

Prickly pear is one of the traditional types of cacti species ideal for beginners. The opuntia cactus is native to North America and commonly found in desert habitats.

It is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimum care and attention. It can handle high temperatures and extended drought periods with little water requirements.

Always allow the soil to dry out completely before watering your prickly pear cactus. Reduce the frequency of watering significantly during winter to prevent root rot.

The prickly pear cactus is quite cold hardy and can tolerate temperatures of up to -30 degrees Celsius. It thrives in full sun exposure but consider watering it sparingly during summer for best results.

A prickly fruit cactus.
The prickly pear cactus is definitely worth trying if you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for plant.

This cactus is known for its stunning red, yellow or white flowers appearing from late spring to summer. It also produces edible fruits with a sweet and refreshing taste, making them a great addition to any garden.

The prickly pear cactus is definitely worth trying if you’re looking for an easy-to-care-for plant that will add beauty and color to your landscape.

Astrophytum

Astrophytum is a small group of cacti plants also referred to as star cacti due to their star-shaped appearance.

Most of them are columnar and somehow globular. Some species in this genus are spineless, making it a great choice for beginners.

The succulent is known for its slow growth and low maintenance requirements making it ideal for both experienced and beginner gardeners.

Astrophytum thrives in a well-draining potting mix with some added sand to enhance water drainage.

Water your cacti plant once a week during summer when temperatures are high and reduce the frequency significantly during winter.

It requires bright sunlight to survive and thrive. However, adjust the amount of light you provide depending on your environment.

Too much direct sun can cause sunburns, while too little light will result in poor growth and blooming.

This cacti species is very tolerant of cold temperatures and can tolerate temperatures down to -5 degrees Celsius.

It produces beautiful yellow and pink flowers that attract bees and butterflies when grown outdoors.

It is definitely worth trying if you’re looking for a low-maintenance cactus species with stunning blooms.

Summary

These are some of the best cacti for beginners. These species are a great way to start if you are considering getting into cacti culture.

After getting to know these plants and how to care for them, you will be well on your way to becoming a cactus expert.

But be sure to conduct your research before purchasing any plant to ensure it is the right fit for you and your home.

Last update on 2024-02-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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