17 Different Types of Cactus Plants You Can Grow Indoors

Looking to add some cactus plants to the inside of your home, but aren't sure where to start? There are plenty of different indoor-friendly cactus plants you can add to your indoor garden. In this article, gardening expert Melissa Strauss lists out some of her favorite cactus plants to grow inside your home.

cactus indoor


Cacti have a long and illustrious history of being a fashionable houseplant. They have something of the avant-garde about them, and just a touch of danger in those spines. Most cacti can be incredibly sleek and modern with their smooth, balanced shape. They also pair beautifully with a white plaster wall and terracotta floors.

A very large cactus is a plant that has been appreciated and nurtured for many years. And when the light is just right, they might just reward you with a crown of brilliant, colorful blooms.

In spite of their tough exterior, cacti can be incredibly chic and elegant houseplants. Let’s take a look at these interesting varieties and see if we can’t talk ourselves into a new plant baby.

African Milk Tree

Euphorbia trigona plant in a decorative metal flowerpot against a concrete gray wall near a stack of books and a pencil case with colored pens. The cactus has a fleshy, triangular, bright green stem that bears small oval leaves interspersed with thorns along each of the three edged sides.
African Milk Tree has tall, succulent, upright, triangular branches with small oval leaves.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia trigona
  • Bloom Time:  Spring, Summer
  • Geographical Location:  Central Africa
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

This fascinating plant has a characteristic of both a succulent and a cactus, so we will count it because it’s a really cool plant. Euphorbia trigona grows tall, vertical branches that are thick, fleshy and three sided. Leaves grow interspersed with thorns along each of the stems’ three edged sides. It can flower, but rarely will indoors.

All parts of the plant are toxic, so be careful about kids and pets. The thorns are usually a good deterrent, but if you know your cat likes to munch on your houseplants, this is probably not the one. African Milk Tree doesn’t have the same sun tolerance as most cacti. Bright filtered light all day, or just a few hours of direct sun are what it likes.


Close-up of Euphorbia baioensis cacti in black plastic pots against a background of many different cacti. The plant has clustered long finger-shaped stems of bright green color, completely covered with prickly thorns.
Baioensis is a funky cactus with finger-like stems covered in spiny thorns.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia baioensis
  • Bloom Time:  Spring, Summer
  • Geographical Location:  Kenya
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-11

This funky, clustering cactus calls Kenya its home. The plant has a clumping habit which sends out lots of long, fingerlike stems, each covered from head to toe in prickly spines. That may sound a bit terrifying, but the plant is delicate and has a warm, fuzzy look to it with its giant family. In spring and summer, tiny yellow flowers pop out on those fingertips.

Baioensis likes full sun, and generous fertilizing. They also produce a toxic, white sap that can cause skin irritation. Again, the spines are a deterrent for most children and animals, but it’s worth mentioning.

Bishop’s Cap

Top view, close-up of the Astrophytum myriostigma on a blurred background of decorative pebbles in a black flower pot. This thorny plant forms a short-columnar, star-shaped, silver-gray stem with 4 prominent ribs and a blooming soft yellow flower at the top. The flower is large, open, consists of thin narrow pale yellow petals arranged in one row, around a bright yellow center.
Bishop’s Cap is a fun star shaped cactus that blooms in spring with fragrant yellow flowers.
Scientific Name: Astrophytum myriostigma
  • Bloom Time:  Spring, Summer
  • Geographical Location:  Central Mexico
  • Sun Exposure: Part Shade
  • Plant Zone: 10-11

Bishop’s cap has a fun star shape to the base of its short columns. It prefers sandy soil and low-nitrogen fertilizer if you must. When it’s young, this is a smallish plant that needs some shelter from the sun. It grows to about 40” tall with an 8” diameter, though, so it is a fair-sized plant when mature.

The plant has 5 ribs, but that can increase as they age, making the shape more cylindrical than pentagonal. The flowers on Bishop’s cap are special. The blooms show up in spring and summer. Are brilliant yellow and wonderfully fragrant.

Blue Myrtle

Close-up of a young Myrtillocactus geometrizans in a white decorative flower pot on a blurred background of a gray wall. The cactus has two fleshy tall bluish-green stems, ribbed with small yellow spikes.
Blue Myrtle Cactus is a bluish green columnar cactus.
Scientific Name: Myrtillocactus geometrizans
  • Bloom Time:  Spring
  • Geographical Location:  Mexico
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun when Mature
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

Blue Myrtle has a really fun, modern appeal with its unique color and structure. When it’s young, the plant grows in the shape of an upright club, and as it matures, arms branch off in a candelabra fashion. Blue Myrtle can reach up to 16’ tall at maturity, although it’s unlikely to get that large indoors.

This is a pretty standard cactus in terms of its needs. It needs a little shelter when young but likes full sun once mature. Water well, but not often. If It’s extra happy, it might give you some greenish white, fragrant flowers in springtime.

Candelabra Cactus

Euphorbia lactea (Candelabra Cactus) grows in a brown flower pot on a white background. The plant produces several dark green branches with 6-8 ribs, the flesh of which is dotted with dark spines at regular intervals along each edge.
Candelabra Cactus produces branching dark green arms with dark thorns, reminiscent of candelabra.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia lactea
  • Bloom Time:  Spring and Summer
  • Geographical Location: Asia
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 10-12

This classic cactus makes a clean and bold statement in interior design. Its name comes from its growth habit which produces branching arms with a shape reminiscent of a candelabra. Its bright green flesh is dotted with dark colored spines at even intervals along each edge.

Candelabra can reach impressive heights, growing up to 16’ tall in some instances, but it can be trained to stay a rather small, compact plant. It rarely blooms, and has that irritating, sticky sap, but it has a distinguished silhouette.

Christmas Cactus

Close-up of a flowering Schlumbergera plant in a white flowerpot on a white windowsill. The plant has juicy, weeping, segmented, dark green stems hanging from the walls of the pot. Large, bright pink flowers with long stamens bloom at the ends of the stems.
Christmas Cactus has weeping, segmented stems and incredibly colorful flowers.
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera
  • Bloom Time:  Fall to Winter
  • Geographical Location:  Brazil
  • Sun Exposure: Bright Indirect Light
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

Schlumbergera, or Christmas Cactus is a very popular, and easy to care for, house plant. This fun succulent cactus looks great in a hanging basket, as it has a weeping habit and the long, graceful, segmented stems hangover the sides of its pot.

Christmas Cactus like about the same treatment as a begonia, in my experience. Bright, filtered light and don’t let it dry out too much, and it will be happy as a lark. This plant produces spectacular flowers during the holidays, each branch produces a large, brilliantly colored bloom. These plants have been known to live up to 100 years!

Cowboy Cactus

Close-up of Euphorbia ingens 'Cowboy' cactus against a blue sky. A large, branching succulent with broad, fleshy, dark green stems, rows of thorns running along the entire length of all edges of the plant. The branches grow almost parallel to the trunk and form crown-shaped foliage at the top.
Cowboy Cactus is a succulent with tall, branching, fleshy stems.
Scientific Name: Euphorbia ingens ‘Cowboy’
  • Bloom Time:  Spring and Summer
  • Geographical Location:  Africa
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-12

When I picture a cactus, this plant is precisely what comes to mind. Tall and branching, the wide fleshy stems are more like trunks, branching off here and there to become large, prickly trees. Their shiny green trunks have a geometric shape, and rows of spines run the length of all the edges.

This cactus is very desirable so it can be difficult to come by. When Cowboy is happy, leaves will sprout between the spines creating a new textural element to the appearance. A liquid fertilizer once per month will keep this wrangler happy.

Feather Cactus

Close-up of Mammillaria plumosa cactus in a decorative pink flowerpot on a blurred background. The plant is covered with intertwining white feathery spines. Two cute little white flowers with yellow centers are in bloom.
This is a small cactus with an outer shell of white downy plumage that protects it from the scorching sun.
Scientific Name: Mammillaria plumosa
  • Bloom Time:  Spring
  • Geographical Location: Northeastern Mexico
  • Sun Exposure: Full to Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-12

Mammillaria plumosa, or Feather Cactus, is a small cactus which makes a great container plant and completely non-toxic. This small cactus is a ‘Near Threatened’ species but it isn’t difficult to grow or to propagate. Cuttings and offsets are great propagation options, but it also produces seeds and can be easily grown from seed.

This plant has an outer shell of soft, white downy feathering that helps to protect it from the hot sun. As a result, it is quite sun tolerant. But beware, those feathers hide sharp spines so handle with care.

Easter Cactus

Close-up of a Schlumbergera gaertneri in front of a white background. The plant has long segmented stems, with soft brownish bristles between the segments and at the tips. Large, bright orange flowers with narrow and long petals.
Easter Cactus blooms with large bright white to red, orange, peach, lavender, and pink flowers.
Scientific Name: Schlumbergera gaertneri
  • Bloom Time:  Spring
  • Geographical Location:  Brazil
  • Sun Exposure: Bright Filtered Light
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

Easter Cactus is a cousin of the Christmas Cactus. It has a very similar appearance, long segmented stems have a weeping habit, and produce large, brilliantly colored blooms, this time, in spring.

Just as Christmas Cactus blooms for the winter holidays, Easter Cactus will bloom for Easter. This cactus blooms in orange, lavender, peach, and pink.

This is a rainforest plant, so it needs a bit more water and a filter on that bright sunlight. Water when the first inch is dry, and keep it in a spot with bright, filtered light all day. Schlumbergera make wonderful houseplants.

Melon Cactus

Close-up of six Melocactus cacti in black plastic pots with decorative pebbles. Cacti are ribbed, spherical, with sharp long white spikes along the ribs. Plants are distinguished by a reddish shaggy mass, cephalia, which forms on the plant like a cap.
Melon Cactus is known for its spiky reddish cap at the top of the plant.
Scientific Name: Melocactus
  • Bloom Time:  Summer
  • Geographical Location:  Central America
  • Sun Exposure: Full
  • Plant Zone: 10-11

This quirky cactus is best known for the interesting, prickly hat that forms atop the plants at maturity. This reddish mass resembles a hat and when it gets enough light pink flowers will bloom from this hat like structure. After the flowers fall, Melon Cactus bears edible fruits.

This small to medium cactus gives its name to the Turks and Caicos’ islands. It grows to about 3’ tall and likes full sun and modest watering practices.

Mexican Fence Post Cactus

Top view, close-up of a Pachycereus marginatus in a white ceramic pot on a blue-yellow background. The cactus has three columnar, fleshy dark green stems with well-defined ribs, which are covered with small white spikes.
This plant has spines covered in small white spikes.
Scientific Name: Pachycereus marginatus
  • Bloom Time:  Spring
  • Geographical Location:  Northern Mexico
  • Sun Exposure: Full to Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

These conveniently fast-growing cacti get their name from their appearance, which is not unlike a fencepost. Growing up to 3’ per year in height, these tall, straight structures make a great boundary, or privacy screen when grown close together. Growing up to 20’ tall at maturity, one plant will send up multiple posts in a cluster, eventually.

In Spring, this cactus will produce large, tubular, pink flowers that make a splash against the austere silhouette of the stems. Seeds follow the flowers and produce fruit that is desirable to wildlife.

Moon Cactus

Close-up of three Gymnocalycium mihanovichii cacti in white plastic flower pots. This cactus has a columnar shape with three pronounced ribs, on top of which a spherical orange or pink cactus is formed. The cacti are dark green in color, two of which have pink globular cacti and the other has an orange globular form.
This plant produces a small rounded red or yellow globular cactus at the top.
Scientific Name: Gymnocalycium mihanovichii
  • Bloom Time:  Spring
  • Geographical Location:  South America
  • Sun Exposure: Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 11-12

Moon Cactus is a unique plant with a very uncommon characteristic. This plant produces no chlorophyll! For this reason, they are commonly sold with the Moon Cactus grafted onto the rootstock of a plant that does produce chlorophyll. The resulting appearance is a small, rounded, red or yellow ball, atop a small portion of another cactus.

These interesting cacti produce offshoots and divide easily, making propagation quite simple. Moon Cactus needs heat, and cannot tolerate temperatures below 48°F. They need their sunlight to be filtered, as they typically grow in the shade of larger cacti in the wild.

The Old Man of the Mountain

Close-up of an Oreocereus celsianus against a blurred background of a growing aloes in the desert. The plant is columnar, densely covered with silky white hairs, under which are long, sharp, orange spikes.
The Old Man of the Mountain is covered with thin white hair that hides orange spikes.
Scientific Name: Oreocereus celsianus
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Geographical Location:  South America
  • Sun Exposure: Full to Part Sun
  • Plant Zone: 8-11

This sturdy Old Man is a fun and textural cactus. Growing up to 12’ tall, Old Man of the Mountain is an imposing figure, covered in wispy white hairs which act as a protection from the intense ultraviolet rays up in the Andes Mountains, where this cactus is native to. Beneath all that fuzz are long, sharp, orange spines, making this a difficult plant to handle.

Old Man of the Mountain is the most cold hardy of all the wooly columnar cacti. It can tolerate freezing, and survives temperatures as low as 19°F. This plant should be watered in summer regularly but allowed to dry completely between waterings. In winter, watering should cease.

Organ Pipe Cactus

Close-up of growing Stenocereus thurberi cacti. This cactus is made up of tall, columnar arms. The stems are deep green and densely covered with brown thorns.
Organ Pipe Cactus blooms in late spring with incredibly beautiful white flowers.
Scientific Name: Stenocereus thurberi
  • Bloom Time:  Late Spring
  • Geographical Location:  Mexico and California, USA
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 9-11

This large cactus has a monument named for it. The Organ Pipe Cactus is native to Mexico, where, in the wild, it can reach heights of up to 25’ tall.

It can be kept smaller, and offsets can be limited in captivity to control the size of the plant. Organ Pipe Cactus grows several, tall, vertical stems which rarely branch, but can grow from the crown of the previous stem.

In late spring, mature plants produce large, upward facing, white blooms. In nature these flowers are pollinated by bats and form large fruits that are quite appetizing. Said to taste similar to watermelon, the fruit is enjoyed by people and animals alike.

Rat Tail Cactus

Close-up of two Disocactus flagelliformis cacti in hanging brown-orange flower pots in a garden. Cacti consist of long, dark green stems covered with short, thin spines.
Rat Tail Cactus has long thin branches with short thin spines.
Scientific Name: Disocactus flagelliformis
  • Bloom Time:  Late Spring
  • Geographical Location: Mexico
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 8-11

While this cactus is almost a threatened variety in its native Mexico, it is quite a popular houseplant that has gained quite a following in recent years.

This plant grows many long, thin branches which can reach as long as six feet at maturity, making this a really interesting houseplant for hanging baskets.

The long tail shaped stems are bright green and covered in sunny yellow spines. In late spring, bright pink flowers bloom from various points along the sides of the stems. Rat Tail likes to be fertilized, and to have a break in winter with some cooler weather. It’s not frost tolerant, but a little cool weather will make this cactus bloom best.

Saguaro Cactus

Close-up of a Carnegiea gigantea against a blue sky. The cactus is large, columnar, with three fleshy, thick branches covered with many sharp thorns.
Saguaro Cactus is a classic, columnar cactus that grows upwards and blooms with white flowers in late spring.
Scientific Name: Carnegiea gigantea
  • Bloom Time:  Late Spring
  • Geographical Location:  Sonoran Desert
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 8-11

This classic cactus has an entire National Park named after it. It is found exclusively in the Sonoran Desert in the wild. The Saguaro is an upward growing cactus that grows quite tall, and typically has many branching arms pointing upward. These large cacti can live up to 150-200 years.

Saguaros are very slow growing cacti. At 10 years old, one of these could be no more than 2 inches tall. A full-grown saguaro in the wild can be between 40’-60’ tall by the end of its lifetime and can weigh up to two tons! White flowers come in late spring and behind them, edible fruit.

Senita Cactus

Close-up of Lophocoreus schottii on a blue background. It is a columnar cactus, with widely spaced ribs, composed of five thick, fleshy, dark green stems with long gray spines.
Lophocoreus schottii is a columnar cactus with tall, ribbed branches covered in bristly, gray spines.
Scientific Name: Lophocoreus schottii
  • Bloom Time: Spring
  • Geographical Location: USA and Mexico
  • Sun Exposure: Full Sun
  • Plant Zone: 8-11

Its name, Senita, means ‘old one,’ and this cactus earned its name from the white hairlike fuzz that regularly grows at the top of these tall, upright stems. Senita blooms in spring when its flowers open only at night and are exclusively pollinated by moths which spend their entire lives on the plant.

The tall clustering branches are ribbed and have bristly gray spines that run along the edges of their ribs. The fruit from this cactus was once an integral food source among the people indigenous to Arizona and Mexico. The Senita Cactus was believed to be a powerful and spiritual plant.

Final Thoughts

All the different shapes and sizes make choosing a cactus for the home an interesting endeavor. These somewhat elusive plants make quite a statement in interior decorating, as well as becoming cherished objects that require years of nurturing to reach their full potential.

Caring for a cactus requires a sunny spot, a lot of patience, and a light hand with watering. The right combination of care will keep any of these stunning plants happy and add an interesting element to your home.

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