Cactus Houseplants: What You Need to Know

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Why Collect Cactus Houseplants?

Do you collect cactus houseplants? If you do, that’s great! Collecting cacti is one of the best hobbies due to its health benefits and aesthetic effects. Try putting a flowering cactus indoor plant arrangement in your living room, and for sure, it is one of the things your guests will notice. They don’t take up a lot of space; they are small and beautiful!

Flowering cactus indoor plant arrangement on the table
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This article is valuable if you plan to become a cactus indoor plant collector because it gives you ideas on the following:

  • Benefits of cactus houseplants
  • Different types of common cactus houseplants
  • Typical ailments of houseplant cactus varieties
  • Growth requirements and maintenance of small cactus plants for indoors
  • Frequently asked questions on the different kinds of cactus house plants

It also discusses the differences and similarities between cactus and succulent; how can you tell one from the other. Moreover, you will get valuable tips on how to start planting cactus and essential things to keep in mind when taking care of it. So, come and learn more about cactus houseplants and give them a space in your home.

What are Cactus Houseplants?

Cactus varieties are desert plants with thick and spiky stems to store their water supply. The dense and prickly skin is their defense mechanism against the harsh environment and wild animals. They adapted to their natural habitat in the desert of North America to survive the hot, dry, and windy conditions.



Saguaro cactus plants in their natural habitat in Sonoran Desert
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You might ask, “Can cactus houseplants grow indoors? Yes, of course, they do! Not only do they grow indoors, but they thrive inside the house. Plant enthusiasts grow and propagate them because they are not sensitive. As a result, they are one of the best drought-tolerant plants that require minimal care and low maintenance.

But be careful; houseplant cactus varieties are sensitive to frost and overwatering. So, you may choose an area in your house that cannot be reached by the cold draft and water them only when the soil dries out. Nevertheless, these aesthetic cactus houseplants add beauty to your space; you don’t even need wallpaper if you have them! So, why not collect them now.





Benefits of Having Cactus Indoor Plant Varieties

You gain two-fold benefits when you bring different cactus varieties into your home. First, their presence in the house has physical, mental, and emotional health advantages. Second, they have an environmental and social impact when you put small cactus plants indoors in your office, living room, bedroom, dining, or kitchen area.

Flowering cactus house plants in a corner of the room
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1. Health and social advantages of cactus houseplants

Have you found it relaxing to look at the greenery when stressed? You’re not alone because, according to NASA, green space is good for mental health. It protects you from being stressed and depressed or having mood swings and neurotic tendencies. Further, it states that green space calms your over-stimulated mind.

When you have cactus houseplants, the effects are similar since they lower your levels of stress, fatigue, and anxiety. In addition, they have calming effects, which increase productivity, creativity, and comfort. Further, cactus varieties boost your mood and general well-being, thus helping avoid common sicknesses.

How about your social behavior? How can a cactus home plant make you sociable? Planting cactus gives you a venue to have a joint project with other people. For example, you may ask your family or friends to join you in creating a desert terrarium. When you work with others, it improves your interpersonal relationship in your home and workplace.



A mother and her children are making a cactus house plant terrarium
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2. The positive environmental and physiological impact of cactus houseplants

It is a well-known fact that plants purify the air. Different types of cactus houseplants act just like that; they are air purifiers that eliminate carbon and other pollutants in the air. With improved air quality, it results in better cardiovascular conditions. Who doesn’t want to breathe fresh air? It’s good for the lungs and for the earth too.

Another contribution of cactus houseplant to humans and the environment comes from ambient or background noise. For example, do you observe a humming sound when you live in a busy area of the city? That’s the one. Yes, cactus houseplants lower background noise in your space; thus, they help you relax.

There are more – all types of cactus absorb EMF (electromagnetic fields) radiation. So maybe, have a small cactus indoor plant on your table while using your laptop. It’s a great idea! Further, cactus houseplants improve humidity during a dry and sunny day, so you feel cooler inside the house. 



A laptop and cactus houseplant on the table
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3.  Aesthetic contributions to your home 

Would you like a houseplant that provides a unique ambiance to your space? Cacti come in various shapes and sizes with multiple “pups” to use as decorations inside your house. If you’re looking for something different than traditional house plants like ferns or pothos, give cacti a try, they will make a difference in your living space.

But, how do you decorate your space with cacti? Here are some excellent ideas:

  • Make a cluster of cacti on a center or side table in white, black, or hand-painted pots. Use them as a centerpiece.
  • Create a glass florarium with different variety of cacti. When they bloom, you will have a mosaic of different colors in red, pink, yellow, orange, and more!
  • Place them on shelves or windowsills to have greenery inside your house or make an accent to a monotonous space.
  • Sart a cacti indoor garden in a vacant corner of your house. You can even make it inside your bedroom! They don’t take up a lot of space like other houseplants.
  • Plant numerous cacti in one big pot or just one tall cactus if you want a minimalistic approach.


4. Cactus houseplants in a desert terrarium

Cacti are well-suited for the indoor desert terrarium because they are low maintenance. Try setting up a terrarium in your living room or bedroom. You may need five cacti, a special potting mix, decorative sand and pebbles, and draining pebbles. If you want to be more creative and put other decorations, go ahead. Then, you are good to go to make your desert terrarium.

Different types of cactus house plants in a terrarium
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What cactus types do go together in a desert terrarium? Here are five suitable cacti for a desert terrarium:

  • Rainbow pincushion
  • Cinnamon 
  • Peanut 
  • Thimble Mammillaria
  • Domino 

You can also plant succulents in your cactus terrarium, which will grow into miniature forests. Succulents help purify the soil before it reaches the roots of your cacti. Water them every three to six weeks or until the soil dries out completely to prevent root rot. Watering also depends on the humidity, so you need to check the soil condition regularly.





5. Cactus Houseplants Gift Ideas

Cactus houseplants are often given as gifts to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, or Easter. Other cactus-related holidays include Cinco De Mayo, Independence Day in Tibet, and Día de la Madre. You can also give to friends and relatives who are sick or in the hospital; to make them feel better. Do you want some tips on how to make them as gifts?


Two cactus houseplants in paper wrappings
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Materials needed to create small cactus indoor plant gifts:

  • Gift bag
  • Notecard
  • Ribbon
  • Colored tissue 
  • Wrapping paper
  • Fabric
  • Bow

Make your designs, and be creative. It is well-appreciated if you put effort into having a personalized gift wrap. There are a lot of ideas you can watch on YouTube on how to pack a cactus and design its pot. Don’t worry about not doing it before. Cactus helps you be creative, so go with your instincts and feelings.


Five Common Cactus Houseplants

You can choose several types of cacti, depending on color, size, and shape. Many cactus plant types grow well indoors, and others thrive outdoors. So, it would help to determine which ones you want to put inside your house based on their characteristics, such as moisture, sunlight, temperature, and humidity requirements.


1. Barrel cacti

These types of cactus house plants are easy to care for and only require total indirect sun exposure when indoors. They grow well in hanging baskets, adding a unique effect when taking them down at the end of the season.



Barrel cactus house plant in a pot
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2. Fishhook

This cactus variety has hooked spines that can pierce or tear through almost anything, including clothing, so handle with care around children and pets. Or you need to wear gardening gloves when repotting or propagating.



Cluster if fishhook cactus houseplants in a pot
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3. Hedgehog

You can recognize this type of cactus house plant by its long needles on short stems. It is also known as a “spider” because its thin spines resemble spider legs and stick easily to your skin if you accidentally touch it.



A cluster of hedgehog cactus plants
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4. Organ Pipe

The holes along this plant’s body produce an eerie sound similar to organs played on an old-fashioned pipe organ.


An organ pipe cactus branching out
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5. Saguaro

These types of cacti are recognizable by their tall, slim arms that stretch up to 15 feet tall in the wild. Although it can take up to 25 years for this plant to grow its first arm, it will continue producing them throughout its life that can reach 200 years or more.


Saguaru cactus with branches
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Five Ailments of Cactus Houseplants

Cactus houseplants, both outdoor and indoor varieties, may suffer from specific ailments or pests that you need to check from time to time. If one of your cacti caught an infection or infestation, here are some things you can do to take care of the problem before it gets worse. But, you have to isolate first the poor guy so that the infection or infestation won’t spread to nearby houseplants.


1. Brown or Black Spots 

Fungi on the leaves usually cause brown or black spot infections. You can take care of this problem with fungicides containing copper sulfate, neem oil extract, or chlorothalonil.

2. Spider Mites 

Spider mites can infect cacti plants with delicate webs under the leaves or joints. You can solve this problem with miticide spray, a concentrated form of chemical insecticide. It is specific to spider mites which results in immediate knockdown and elimination. 

3. Brown Patches

Brown patches on cactus stems indicate a pest infestation by aphids and scale insects. Treat this problem with petroleum jelly combined with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, or insecticide sprays.

 4. White cottony substances 

White cottony substances on cactus stems indicate an infestation of mealybugs. You can deal with this problem by applying horticultural oils or neem oil extracts combined with insecticidal soap.

 5. Mealybugs

Pincushion cacti develop brown ridges on their spines if infected by mealybugs and cochineal scale insects. To get rid of these pests, apply imidacloprid as a drench to the soil around the plant. Then, follow it up with systemic injections to get absorbed by its roots to protect from these bugs as it grows.

Growth Requirements and Maintenance of Small Cactus House Plants

When you first purchase your cactus houseplants, it’s essential to plant each one in well-draining soil. You may add sand or pebbles to the regular potting mix before planting. Next is watering cactus house plants by saturating the soil and stopping once you see the water draining from the pothole. 



Repotting cactus houseplants using garden gloves
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Since these desert plants can grow under indirect sunlight, place them near a glass window or a glass door. However, if you notice brown spots on your plant’s stems, there might be cold drafts or hot air flow entering that area. So, transfer them to another place with favorable conditions.

Although a small cactus home plant needs little water, it doesn’t like freezing temperatures or frost. When exposed, it will start to rot after one. However, some cactus houseplant types can withstand minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below, depending on their varieties. They have mechanisms like spikes or spines that keep out frost to prevent stem freeze.



1. Water

Watering cactus houseplant in a pot
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Since the cactus has adapted to desert life, it prefers less-than-perfect soil conditions. It’s essential to plant each one in well-draining soil. You may add sand or pebbles to the regular potting mix. Next is watering cactus house plants until excess water drips out through the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Avoid overwatering by waiting for the soil to become parched entirely before giving them another drink.





2. Sunlight

Cacti need indirect sunlight if you keep them indoors year-round. However, when held outside during summer, they require at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. During winter, when it’s gloomy, you can provide artificial light from fluorescent bulbs or LED grow lights but avoid incandescent lights.

3. Temperature

During the growth period from spring to summer, cactus houseplants require a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime and 60 degrees at nighttime. When they are dormant from fall to winter, they need a temperature of 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. They do not grow when the temperature is below freezing for any period. The length of time that cacti can withstand cold varies by species.

4. Humidity

Indoor humidity is often as low as 30 percent during winter months, so it’s essential to keep your cactus houseplants away from cold drafts and heated rooms unless you mist them regularly.

 5. Fertilizer

Cacti do not need fertilizer if grown in good potting soil and allowed to dry out between waterings. However, if the plant is still growing and developing “pups,” feed with a diluted liquid fertilizer monthly for best results.

6. Growing Medium

These desert plants grow best in well-draining potting soils with pebbles and sand. The cactus houseplant is best grown in pots indoors to protect from cold drafts and extreme temperatures.

 7. Pruning and Trimming 

If you notice any dead leaves on your plant’s stem, snip them off to encourage new growth. It would be best to prune only during springtime when flowering or developing buds because trimming or pruning can damage or even kill the plant.

 8. New Cactus Houseplants Care Tips

When you buy a new plant or repot and propagate an old one, remember to place your cacti in bright, sunny locations where they’ll receive plenty of filtered sunlight. Then, follow the recommendation of watering cactus house plants when the soil dries up, and make sure not to get any water on the leaves or stems.



Repotting small cactus houseplants
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Periodically prune away dead or dying branches using sharp scissors before repotting the plant into a larger container if needed. Then, apply fungicides containing copper sulfate, neem oil extract, or chlorothalonil to eliminate mold and other fungi that grow on the surface.



Important Reminders on Cactus Houseplant Care

1. Giving cactus house plants lots of indirect sunlight. 

During the summer months, you should keep your potted cactus out of direct sunlight, which can cause burn damage. If the cactus does not receive enough indirect light, its spines will fade. It will also eventually fall off after two or three years in unfavorable conditions.

In addition, if brown spots appear on stems,  move them away from cold drafts or heated rooms since this condition damages their health. When the plant is indoors, it’s essential to place them away from cold drafts and heated rooms because these areas can cause rot or burn.

 2. Watering cactus houseplants when the soil completely dries out.

It helps if you keep cacti in a well-draining pot since they don’t require nutrients and fertilizer. If the cactus house plants get too much water, you will notice the formation of rot at the roots. It almost guarantees the death of your cacti.


3. Keeping cactus houseplants with minimal care and attention.

If you are busy or travel a lot, cacti are perfect for you to collect as houseplants. Also, because they are desert plants, you can plant them outside in the summer months or bring them inside when winter comes to protect them from the extreme cold. So, it’s best to plant them in pots for easy movement. 

Caring for your plant babies is simple. They do not need high humidity levels like other plants; instead, they grow well in dry air. When comes down to these little guys, they need little water and lots of indirect sunlight. So, planting cactus and propagating it do not require special skills, attention, and effort.


How to Tell Between Cacti and Succulents?

Many consider Cacti to be one of the succulent family. And while they are closely related, they are not the same. Succulents are plants that retain water in their leaves, stems, or roots. They may also have thickened, fleshy tissue for storing water. The difference between cacti and succulents is that cacti are native desert plants that evolved from the arid climate for survival. They are the product of adaptation to their natural environment.


Florarium of cactus houseplants and succulents
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1. Succulent leaves vs cacti stems

Succulents are plants that retain water in their leaves, stems, or roots. They may also have thickened, fleshy tissue for storing water to withstand heat. On the other hand, cacti are native desert plants that evolved from the arid climate for survival. They are the product of adaptation to their natural environment. So, they can withstand prolonged drought because of their very thick and sturdy skin.

2. Manner of growth

Succulents almost always grow in clusters, while cacti usually grow alone or in small groups.

3. Water requirements

Both cacti and succulents need water when the soil completely dries out. There’s is no general watering schedule because it also depends on the humidity inside your house.

4. Sunlight requirements

Succulents and cacti require the same types of sunlight: bright but indirect light year-round. They also grow more slowly in low light conditions than exposed to direct sun.

5. Effects of cold drafts

Neither type of plant grows well with cold air or drafts, so keep them away from doors and windows during winter if you want to avoid damage due to colder weather.



Frequently Asked Questions About Cactus Indoor Plant

1. What type of soil should I use?

Any light, porous soil will work well for growing these types of plants so long as you add sand, gravel, or stones to help with drainage. If you want to spruce up the look of your cactus, you can also mix in some compost or manure.

Combination of potting soil, sand, and pebbles placed in pots
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2. How often should I water my cacti?

Water your cactus whenever the top inch or so of soil is dry. Ensure that you only water the roots and not the plant itself to avoid rotting.

3. My cactus leaves are curling up. What’s wrong with it?

The cause of the problem is either overwatering, underwatering, or exposure to cold drafts. The curled leaves will gradually straighten out as soon as you provide them with more water or sunshine.

4. My cactus has brown spots on it; how do I fix this?

Brown spots onacti indicate an infection by fungi. You can apply fungicides containing copper sulfate, neem oil extract, or chlorothalonil to the plant to eliminate this problem.

5. How do I get rid of aphids on my cacti?

Remove aphids by using insecticidal soap combined with petroleum jelly or horticultural oils. If you don’t want to use harmful chemicals, you can also prune the infected areas and collect the pest in a container of soapy water before discarding them outside.

6. I touched my cactus houseplant and got small spines all over me! What should I do?

You can pick out the spines from your skin if they’re still fresh enough, but make sure not to spread them around. If you’re allergic to these spines, seek medical attention immediately.


A hand is touching a prickly cactus houseplant
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7. How do I get rid of mold on my cactus?

To clean up your cacti or any other plants in your home, wipe the surface with a damp cloth followed by a dry one so that it’ll stay mold-free for longer. You can also use common disinfecting sprays but avoid using chlorine bleach because this will damage the plant’s leaves even further if not kill it outright.

8. What are some succulents that are safe for pets?

Agave is an aloe type of succulent that you can use as either food or medicine for humans and animals alike. For example, Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe skin irritations and allergies. In contrast, you can use dog aloe vera supplements to reduce itching and other symptoms in dogs.

9. What types of cacti are easiest to maintain?

The “easy-care cactus” is a common houseplant that thrives in the same conditions as most succulents. You can identify it with its small, fleshy leaves, round stems, and tenacious roots that can survive even if they’re over-watered.

10. What hazards do cacti pose to humans?

Some species may be unsafe for children because their spines contain toxic alkaloids, namely hordenine or mescaline. In addition, they can cause nausea or diarrhea when ingested. These prickly plants may also irritate the skin upon contact; don’t touch them without protective clothing unless you want your hands covered in itchy red bumps.


Cactus make wonderful houseplants! 

Cactus houseplants are perfect when you’re busy or don’t have a green thumb. They’re low maintenance, and they can survive in dry climates like the desert. Check out the varieties available at

Read More:

Top 10 Plants to Grow All Winter

Novelty Cactus Planters, the Best Pots for Cactus

Great gift idea!

Bonsai Trees

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