Cacti are well known for their ability to store water, which allows them to survive under arid desert conditions. Easily recognized by their unique appearance and distinguishing spines, many cacti also produce colorful flowers, making them a wonderful addition to any home or garden.
Taking its name from its rounded, cylindrical shape, the barrel cactus is one of the most popular types of flowering cacti. Indigenous to the American Southwest, the barrel cactus is the largest in its native region. In the summer months, its bright reddish-yellow flowers bloom at the top of the cactus. These plants also produce edible fruit prized by desert animals and humans alike. Easily grown from seeds, the barrel cactus is perfect for a garden with full sun exposure.
The crimson hedgehog cactus is a small barrel-shaped cactus that gets its name from its resemblance to the animal. Unlike most cacti, its bright red flowers stay open at night, and are perfect for attracting favorable creatures such as hummingbirds. Several Native American groups have used the flower stems as ingredients in sweet cakes, as well.
The prickly pear is one of the most recognizable species of cactus in the American Southwest. These plants boast large, flat branch pads and long spines. Their flowers come in various hues including red, yellow and violet. An added feature of the prickly pear is its edible fruits, called “tuna.” Similarly, the branches are considered a vegetable and can be cooked and eaten. The prickly pear is known for its potential medical benefits including its ability to stabilize blood sugar.
Whether you are a botany enthusiast or a casual gardener, with their low maintenance requirements and brightly colored blossoms these flowering cacti will be right at home in any sunny environment.