Cactus is an amazing plant that you can add inside or outside of your home. While they are relatively low maintenance, ensuring the health of your cactus does require some work on your part. One thing that many people need to research before adding a cactus to their home is the different types of cacti and what to expect from each variety.
Specifically, many people ask: which cactus has flowers? This is somewhat of a trick question because all cacti are flowering plants, and every cactus is capable of blooming once it has reached maturity. However, whether a cactus will bloom is highly dependent on their age and the care the plant receives.
While all cacti are flowering plants and can flower, many find it easier to bloom than others. There are a few species that are more likely to bloom, and those are in the Mammillaria, Gymnocalycium, and Parodia family. But, cacti can produce beautiful flowers that feature impressive, colorful displays.
Which Cacti Are More Likely to Bloom?
With proper care, your cactus is almost certain to bloom at some point. It needs to reach maturity and have a regular period of dormancy to bloom properly.
One of the best ways to guarantee that you are getting a cactus that will bloom is to purchase one that is healthy and already in bloom.
If you are new to the cactus raising world, you will want to purchase a type that is easier to bloom and more likely to produce flowers. When you are shopping for a cactus, look for some of these varieties:
- Easter cactus or Rhipsalidopsis – The Easter cactus comes in a variety of bloom colors, and they are usually in bloom at the time of purchase. The flowers featured range from red, white, orange, peach, lavender, and pink. To set buds, they need cooler temperatures and longer hours of darkness.
- Garnet or Dwarf Cacti from Rebutia cactus genus – These cacti are vigorous growers that flower quite readily with proper care. They feature a large, brightly colored flower which arises from areoles. The flowers are usually found around the lower portion of the stems.
- Christmas cactus or Zygocactus – Christmas cacti are one of the only ones on our list that are not naturally grown in a dry or arid environment but are naturally found in the rainforests of Brazil. It is important to water these cacti more than other types. Also, when they look as if the blooms are about to open, you will want to ensure proper watering and keep the plant cool.
- Pincushion cactus from Mammillaria family – These cactus plants bear funnel-shaped flowers with a wide variety of colors like red, yellow, pink, white, and green. The flowers will later develop into often red-colored fruits that resemble a berry or are more elongated.
- Hedgehog cactus varieties – There are a variety of hedgehog cacti that all feature colorful flowers, and most have edible fruits. The flowers open after the spring rains from February to May. The flowers featured are magenta, pink, purple, and lavender, and the blossoms last for five days opening each morning and closing at night.
- Prickly pear Optunia cactus – Most feature yellow, red, or purple flowers on these cacti that vary in height from less than a foot up to six or seven feet. These cactus plants feature pads, which are edible and vary in size, shape, and color.
- Bolivian or Lobivia cacti – This cactus blooms in the spring and summer with large flowers that are in vibrant red, yellow, or orange. They blossom along the sides of the stem and never on top. To blossom, you will want to provide the cactus with proper vernalization keeping it in a vegetative state during the winter.
- Notocactus or Ball Cactus – To encourage flowering, allow the plant to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and dramatically cut back watering. You will want to continue to water the plant periodically but provide them this time of dormancy.
How Do You Choose a Healthy Cactus?
Of course, choosing a flowering cactus variety is one thing, but making sure it’s healthy enough to bloom successfully is another. To make sure the cactus you choose is healthy, you will want to look for the following:
- Check the outer appearance. The cactus trunk should be robust and firm to the touch.
- During cooler months, like fall and winter, you may notice the trunk is wrinkly, but this should not be an issue.
- The cactus’ spikes should be dense and have good color. The spikes are a great indication of the overall health of the plant.
- Do not buy a cactus that has a “fake” bloom or flower present. Some locations will add fake decorative flowers to their plants, which makes them more prone to get infectious diseases. Also, removing the fake flowers will leave a blemish on the plant.
- Look for any signs of sickness or inadequate care. You should be able to notice any spots or bruising. A weak or pale trunk is a sign of a chlorophyll shortage in the plant’s tissue.
How to Care for Your Cactus
Once you have purchased your cactus, it is time to begin caring for your new plant and encouraging blooming. You want to ensure you are providing your cactus with the right environment to ensure annual blooming. Most cacti need bright, hot sunlight during the growing season and several months of cooler, less bright sun during the winter months.
Where to Place Your Cactus
The best way to ensure that your cactus blooms is to mimic the natural cycle that the plants would go through outdoors. If you are planting your cactus outside, you will be in less control of the environment that the plant is in. However, if you live in a dry, desert-like area, many spiny desert cacti do much better outdoors than they do indoors.
However, if you are keeping the plant indoors, to encourage blooming, you will want to put the plant through phases similar to those outdoors. Many bloom in response to a cool, dry, dormant period or during the winter. This means that from around September to April, keep the cactus in bright yet indirect sunlight at about 50 degrees and water more sparingly.
During the growing season, which is during spring and summer, indoor cacti do better in a sunroom or south-facing windowsill. This allows the plant to receive the most sunlight, and they need maximum light and heat during this time. You will also want to turn the plant regularly for even light exposure. If you do not have an area that has an abundance of light, some cacti thrive in artificial light.
When to Water Your Plant
While cacti are desert plants, they do still need an occasional watering to guarantee proper growth. Similar to the amount of light they receive, the amount of water you provide should vary depending on whether it is the growing season or during the dormant months. During the growing season, the plant will need more water than during the dormant season.
Most cacti have adapted to very little rainfall, and even indoor plants have these same hardy characteristics. You will want to water the plants one every two or three weeks. Often, it is best to water on the less often side than too much as these plants can easily rot in oversaturated soil.
An easy way to tell if watering is needed is to feel the soil that the plant is in. You should allow the top two inches of soil to dry out before you water the plant again, at this point water thoroughly until it runs out of the bottom of the pot. You will then empty whatever drainage tray you have present to avoid allowing the plant to sit in extra water.
When to Fertilize Your Plant
Compared to most other plants, cacti do not need regular feeding, and adding fertilizer is more of an owner preference. If you do want to add fertilizer to your plant, opt for a general-purpose houseplant fertilizer that you can find at most lawn and garden stores. Follow directions on the packaging and never overfeed the plant.
You should only be fertilizing the plant in the spring and summer months. NO fertilizer should be added during the dormant period. You should also note that overfeeding the plant will not make it bloom.
When to Repot Your Plant
Cacti are universally known for being slow growers, so the need to repot the plant should not be very often. (They also do not need regular pruning or trimming, but you can do this if needed.) However, over time, there will be a need to repot the plant if it outgrows its current pot, but this is likely only to happen once every three or four years.
You can tell if the plant needs repotting because the roots will tightly fill the inside of the container. Also, some cactus plants will become too large to stay stable in the container. If you want to repot your cactus, you have to pay extra care due to the spines of the plant. You should always use some form of tongs, gloves, or a folded towel when handling the plant.
Make sure that you repot your plant in a potting mix that is designed for cacti and succulents. Do not water your cactus for a week after repotting.
When Will Your Cactus Bloom?
If you follow the proper steps laid out above, your cactus should be in the proper environment for blooming. However, the age of the plant and overall health of the plant can be an important factor. If your plant is not mature, it will not bloom.
As mentioned, the best way to ensure that your plant is going to bloom is to buy one that already has a bloom present. This means that the cactus is at the age of maturity and can bloom. You will still want to provide the proper environment for your plant so it can continue to bloom once in your home.