Growing Purple Cacti – Learn About Popular Cacti That Are Purple

Purple Cacti
purple cactus
(Image credit: mmac72)

Purple cactus varieties aren’t exactly rare but are definitely unique enough to grab one’s attention. If you have a hankering for growing purple cacti, the following list will get you started. Some have purple pads, while others have vibrant purple flowers.

Purple Cactus Varieties

Growing purple cacti is a fun endeavor and care depends on the variety you choose to grow. Below you will find some popular cacti that are purple:

  • Purple Prickly Pear (Opuntia macrocentra): Purple cactus varieties include this unique, clumping cactus, and it is only one of the few varieties that produce purple pigment in the pads. The striking color becomes even deeper during periods of dry weather. Flowers of this prickly pear, which appear in late spring, are yellow with reddish centers. This cactus is also known as redeye prickly pear or black-spined prickly pear.
  • Santa Rita Prickly Pear (Opuntia violacea): When it comes to cacti that are purple, this beautiful specimen is one of the prettiest. Also known as violet prickly pear, Santa Rita prickly pear displays pads of rich purple or reddish pink. Watch for yellow or red flowers in spring, followed by red fruit in summer.
  • Beaver Tail Prickly Pear (Opuntia basilaris): The paddle-shaped leaves of beaver tail prickly pear are bluish gray, often with a pale purple tint. The flowers may be purple, red, or pink, and the fruit is yellow.
  • Strawberry hedgehog (Echinocereus engelmannii): This is an attractive, cluster forming cactus with purple or bright magenta, funnel-shaped blooms. The spiny fruit of the strawberry hedgehog emerges green, then gradually turns pink as it ripens.
  • Catclaws (Ancistrocactus uncinatus): Also known as Turk’s head, Texas hedgehog, or brown-flowered hedgehog, Catclaws displays blooms of deep, brownish-purple or dark, reddish-pink. 
  • Old Man Opuntia (Austrocylindropuntia vestita): Old Man Opuntia is named for its interesting, beard-like “fur.” When conditions are just right, beautiful deep red or pinkish purple blooms appear at the top of the stems.
  • Old Lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana): This interesting little Mammillaria cactus develops a crown of tiny purple or pink flowers in spring and summer. The stems of old lady cactus are covered with white fuzzy hair-like spines, thus the unusual name.
Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.