10 Cactus Plants to Add to Your Indoor Collection

Indoor cacti next to shelves.

Blanco Bungalow

Few houseplants are better for novice indoor gardeners than hardy, low-maintenance cactus plants. Overall, the needs of cactus plants are simple: warm temperatures, bright light, and minimal water, although there are a few exceptions. Best of all, many varieties will reward proper care by blooming with cheery, brightly colored flowers.

Here are some of our favorite indoor cactus plants to add to your collection. And note: because many of these plants have sharp, painful spines, it's best to keep them far away from kids and pets and wear protective gear or use tongs when handling them directly.

01 of 10

Saguaro Cactus

small saguaro cactus in flower pot on tile floor

Couleur/Pixabay

  • Botanical Name: Carnegiea gigantea
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Succulent soil or cactus mix
  • Soil pH: 5.0-6.5

This is the iconic cactus we picture when we imagine Southwest desert landscapes. With the proper care, you can enjoy them for many years to come.

Water your saguaro sparingly—once per month, allowing the soil to fully dry out between waterings—and give it as much bright, direct sunlight as possible. Take it outdoors to soak up the full sun in the spring and summer once night temperatures have warmed above 60 degrees.

02 of 10

African Milk Tree

Small African milk tree plant with green and red leaves in terra cotta pot against white background

MATTHIASRABBIONE/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Euphorbia trigona
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent potting mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1-7.8

While not a true cactus, the eye-catching African milk tree is tall and spiny like cacti. In reality, this plant is a fast-growing succulent that's also very easy to propagate. Look for the Rubra or Royal Red cultivars for a splash of deep burgundy color along with the usual dark green.

03 of 10

Barrel Cactus

many small golden barrel cactus plants in pots with yellow spines and green flesh

Nora Carol Photography/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Echinocactus and Ferrocactus
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1-7.5

Barrel cacti are actually a wide variety of squat, spiny cactus species in the genera Echinocactus and Ferrocactus. These cute, round specimens come with different-colored spines—golden barrel cactus features bright yellow spines, for example.

Give these cacti as much warmth and bright sunlight as you can, and they'll eventually bloom with colorful flowers.

04 of 10

Prickly Pear Cactus

one large and one small prickly pear cactus plants in light brown pots on table in front of bright window

SaskiaAcht/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Opuntia
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.5

The same paddle-shaped cacti that bear brightly colored, edible fruits when grown outdoors can also thrive as houseplants in the right conditions. Put them in a brightly lit window with a southern or western exposure so they can soak up as much direct sunlight as possible—without enough light, the pads will grow long and skinny rather than wide and full.

05 of 10

Dwarf Chin Cactus

closeup of bright red flowers on green spiny dwarf chin cactus

suriya silsaksom/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Gymnocalycium baldianum
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light or part shade
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 5-7

Also called spider cactus, this round, low-growing species is native to Argentina. With a squat, slightly flattened stem, it's less spiny than other cactus types and mostly known for its showy, brightly colored flowers in shades of white, red, pink, purple, or orange.

This plant differs slightly from the others on this list in that it needs protection from direct sunlight and prefers a little more water—give it a soaking every couple of weeks or when the top inch of soil feels dry.

06 of 10

Old Man Cactus

small fuzzy white and green old man cactus plants in small black pots with gravel

Saowakon Wichaichaleechon/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Cephalocereus senilis
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1-6.5

These bulbous green stems get their common name because they're covered in white, hairlike fuzz. They can grow up to 20 feet tall in the wild, and as houseplants, you can keep them contained in a small, unglazed terracotta pot to manage their size.

Give them as much sun as you can, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings. Keep an eye out for pests like scale and mealybugs, which can be difficult to see because of the plant's fuzzy white hair.

07 of 10

Ladyfinger Cactus

ladyfinger cactus with green flesh and white spines and one yellow flower in window

dmf87/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Mammillaria elongata
  • Sun Exposure: Full to part sun
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 6.1-6.5

Native to Mexico, this spiny cactus gets its common name from its long, finger-like growths. As with other cacti, plant your ladyfinger cactus in gritty, well-draining potting mix, and only water sparingly every few weeks once the soil has completely dried out to avoid root rot.

Because it's so spiny, be sure to use tongs or special gloves to protect your hands when repotting or propagating the plant.

08 of 10

Christmas Cactus

two christmas cactus plants with bright red flowers and green leaves on wooden table in brightly lit living room

Lana2011/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Schlumbergera
  • Sun Exposure: Bright, indirect light
  • Soil Type: Rich, well-drained potting mix
  • Soil pH: 5.5 - 6.2

Rather than a hot, dry desert, Christmas cactus (and its relatives, Thanksgiving cactus and Easter cactus) is native to the jungles of Brazil, so its care needs are a little different than many of the cacti on this list.

Keep the soil slightly moist during the spring and summer growing season, allowing it to dry out a bit more between waterings in the winter. While it prefers warmer temperatures during the growing season, keep it in a cool place (55 to 65 degrees) with at least 13 hours of darkness each day once the plant sets buds.

09 of 10

Bishop's Cap Cactus

overhead shot of blooming bishop's cap cactus with bright yellow flowers and gray-green flesh in pot

ChViroj/Getty Images

  • Botanical Name: Astrophytum myriostigma
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent mix
  • Soil pH: 6.0

This Mexican native gets its common name from its squat, star-like stem that resembles a bishop's uniquely shaped hat. While it doesn't have showy spines, this cactus does have an extended bloom period with a crown of brightly colored flowers in the right conditions.

Young specimens can't handle as much bright light, so keep them in bright, indirect light or dappled light until they mature. Because these plants prefer poor, rocky soil, they don't need to be fertilized.

10 of 10

Angel Wing Cactus

angel wing cactus with green paddles and tiny white spines in back pot with gravel

Juan Ignacio 1976/Flickr

  • Botanical Name: Opuntia microdasys
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil Type: Cactus or succulent soil
  • Soil pH: 6.0-7.5

Also called bunny ears cactus for its long, ovular leaves studded with fuzzy bristles, angel wing cactus is actually a species of prickly pear cactus. It loves hot, dry, sunny conditions, so choose a warm, brightly lit window with a south or west-facing exposure to give it the desert-like conditions it needs to thrive.

Be sure to handle this plant with tongs or special gloves, because even though they're small, their tiny, painful spines will stick to your skin.

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