Flowering Cactus Plants – Flowering Cacti For Bone-Dry Gardens

Two Yellow Flowering Cactus Plants
cactus flower
(Image credit: Andrei Stanescu)

When we think of cacti, they are usually set in our mind's eye in the scene of a desert. While many varieties of cactus are actually tropical, the classic desert cacti capture the imagination. For gardeners in dry regions, flowering cactus plants further add to the sensory pleasure of the landscape.

Succulent Cacti Flowers for Dry Gardens

Hot, arid zones can be troublesome to landscape. Finding plants that thrive in such punishing conditions may be difficult unless one opts for native plants or those whose wild situation is similar. That's where flowering cacti are particularly useful. Cacti that flower will thrive in such sites and add their amazing blooms to brighten the landscape.

Plants need water but that is not always an easy resource to provide in plenty. If you live in a dry region or simply have a zone of the garden where the irrigation doesn't reach, you might consider using flowering cactus plants.

Landscaping with cacti that flower will match the dry site in both nature and nurture, making them ideal installations for such troubled areas. There are many flowering cactus types, from little creepers to big, showy specimens. Most of these flowers for dry gardens arrive in spring but a few will bloom throughout the season.

Flowering Cactus Types

Flowering cacti produce some of the most astounding flowers available. Added to their blooms, each has a unique and diverse form year-round, with different shapes and colors to enhance your garden. There are clumping forms, cacti with large and impressive pads, ones with columnar bodies, stacked varieties, little groundcovers, and much more.

There are so may flowering cactus types from which to choose, that at least a few should be perfect for your dry garden situation. Here are some interesting and varietal flowering cacti to choose:

Big Cacti

  • Saguaro - white, waxy blooms lead to red fruits
  • Prickly Pear - hot pink flowers
  • Cereus - night bloomers with moony, white flowers

Medium Cacti

  • Arizona Rainbow Cactus - yellow and red blooms
  • Echinopsis - many varieties and colors from red, pink, yellow, white, and more
  • Echinocacti - barrel forms, usually magenta blooms

Small Cacti


Plants with Similar Cultural Needs to Intermix

If you want some different textures to use around your blooming cactus, but need plants that will thrive in the heat, look to succulents.

Agaves have immense impact and love a good dry zone. Any of the sedums or sempervivum will enjoy arid sites. Many ornamental grasses would make good companions, as would blue chalk sticks or most varieties of spurge.

Dewflower or ice plant will finish things off nicely, providing bright flowers that fit into any nook and cranny.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.