There are literally thousands of varieties of cactus plants on Earth and some of the most popular can be found right in your local nursery. Cactus plants are the favorite houseplant of people who love gardening but are not very good at it. That's because these plants can withstand so much abuse. You can forget to water your cactus, over water it, never repot it, and leave it in a dark corner in your kitchen and your little cactus may just keep on keeping on. If you are considering planting your very own cactus garden, you might want to take a look at these popular varieties.
You can recognize these cacti instantly because you can find them at every place that sells cacti from the nursery to the local drug store. These cacti look like tall, green cacti with smaller, red, yellow, orange or purple cacti stuck to their heads like hats. In fact, these cacti are actually two cacti grafted together. The top cacti are Gymnocalycium with no chlorophyll. This cactus looks good but can't survive on its own and has to be grafted to another cactus for support. They are usually stuck to the top of Hylocereus cacti.
Fairy castles are another type of cactus that you can often find being sold as a houseplant. These small cacti do not occur in the wild and no one knows where they came from. They grow in tight bunches of upright branches that end up making the plant look like a castle with lots of turrets. Technically, this strange cactus should be able to flower, but this doesn't seem to be a frequent occurrence. These cacti are often sold with straw flowers affixed to them.
If you live in a desert and want a cactus to plant in your yard, plant a prickly pear. These cacti have lots of round, flat branches called paddles. The paddles are usually a silvery, bluish-green color with some hot pink around the edges and they look like big, fleshy leaves. Prickly pears produce big, yellow flowers that look quite striking in contrast with their pinkish paddles. Best of all, however, is that prickly pears produce delicious edible fruits. You may already be familiar with them if you've every ordered a prickly pear margarita from your local Mexican restaurant. These fruits are also hot pink and grow along the edges of the paddles. You can cook and eat the paddles of prickly pears too; they're called nopales.
Saguaros are the tall, multi-branched cacti that look just like cacti in cartoons do. This cactus may not be something you plant at home, but you should keep an eye out for them if you ever visit southwest Arizona or northern Mexico. These cacti can grow to 60 feet in height and two feet in diameter. They can live for over two hundred years and weigh as much as ten tons. These cacti provide homes to all sorts of desert wildlife, including screech and elf owls, house finches, purple martins, gilded flickers, Gila woodpeckers and all sorts of bugs and reptiles. Unfortunately, Saguaros are in danger of becoming extinct.