Red Cactus Varieties: Growing Cacti That Are Red

Red Cactus Varieties: Growing Cacti That Are Red

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Image by PixsyStudio

The color red is one of the most impactful and eye-catching colors out there. We expect to see it in flowers, but it is rare in the succulent family, especially in cactus. For red tones in cacti, you mostly have to rely on flowers or fruit to provide the deep shade. If red is a tint that perks you up and you love succulents, check out a few cacti with red flowers that will brighten your home or landscape.

Red Cactus Varieties

Red cactus varieties are generally grafted specimens. You can find these grafted plants in a wide spectrum of shades. While not a naturally occurring plant, the grafted species of cacti are a unique way of enjoying these easy-to-grow succulents and still have the red color you desire. Outside of grafted types, there are plenty of cacti with red flowers or fruits that will bring that cheery red hue into your sight.

Most cactus bodies are green to bluish green or even grayish green. If you want a truly red plant, you will need to purchase or make a grafted specimen. This is not as hard as it sounds since cacti are easy to propagate from stems or leaves. In the types of red cactus that are sold, moon cactus and chin cactus are commonly grafted. They are considered ball cacti and are grafted onto another cactus rootstock. The result is an interesting plant with a green base and a colorful top. These come in red, yellow, orange, pink, and even purple tops. They are just as easy to care for as a regular cactus yet in a rainbow of hues.

Cactus with Red Flowers

Grafted cacti that are red are just one way to enjoy the color. You can also bring red into the scheme with flowers or fruits.

  • The prickly pear is a classic example of red fruits that are not only beautiful but delicious. It produces deeply blushed flowers as well.
  • The Christmas cactus flowers during the holiday season with lush crimson blooms.

Red tones are most common in blooms of tropical cacti like those from Brazil. It is less common in desert succulents but does occasionally occur.

Although there are many types of cactus with red flowers, in the home environment you may have to trick your plant into blooming. Most cacti bloom after the rainy season. They go through extreme drought and once the rains come, they bloom and often fruit. They also need to experience a winter dormancy with little moisture and then gradually get introduced to more water, brighter light, and increased heat.

These conditions will encourage the plant to produce its red blooms. Provided your plant is mature enough for flowering and fruiting, you can dry it out. Introduce no nutrients and place it in a colder part of the home for winter. Begin regular care in spring and the plant should reward you with those pretty red blooms.

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