Cacti are easy-to-grow, low-maintenance plants that thrive in the less-than-perfect environment found in the home. Although cacti can tolerate neglect, they flourish when given the proper attention and add beauty and interest to their surroundings. According to Clemson University, when grown as houseplants, cacti grow slowly but have a long lifespan. Cacti come in a variety of shapes and sizes and many cacti produce attractive, brightly coloured flowers.
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The members of the astrophytum cacti species are easy-to-grow and make good indoor houseplants. The sea urchin cactus (Astrophytum asterias) has a flat, disc-shaped body, is grey-green or white-green in colour and produces a bright yellow flower. Goat's horn cacti (Astrophytum capricorne) are small and are covered with grey or brown spines and have a bloom that has a wine-coloured throat. The star cactus (Astrophytum ornatum) is covered in yellow or brown spines, produces a yellow blossom and is sphere-shaped when younger, but grows into a column as it matures.
The mammillaria are a large group of low-maintenance cacti that make ideal indoor house plants. Known for producing bright red flowers, the rose pincushion cactus (Mammillaria zeilmanniana) forms in fuzzy, white clusters. The blue-green stems of the powder puff cactus (Mammillaria bocasana) are covered by thick, white spines and have small yellow or white flowers. Although most mammillaria cacti grow in clumps, the old lady cactus (Mammillaria hahniana) grows alone and is round, short and has a reddish-purple flower. The snowball pincushion cacti (Mammillaria candida) grows in clumps and is covered in pink-tipped white spines and produces a cream flower that eventually turns pink.
Although the members of the optunia family are difficult to handle due to their barbed bristles, they can make attractive indoor house cacti. The prickly pear cacti (Optunia spp.) have a flat, oval pad and produce a brightly coloured pear-shaped fruit that is edible. Named for its appearance, the bunny ears cactus (Opuntia microdasys) grows to a height of 2 feet and has long, rounded green stems and flowers that are a vivid shade of yellow. The bright pink flowers of the grizzly bear cactus (Optunia polyacantha v. trichaphora) accent its flat, prickly pads.
Considered a good choice for beginners, the members of the echinocereus family are easy to grow in an indoor environment. The claret cup hedgehog cacti (Echinocereus triglochidiatus) has defined ribs and produces a vibrant red flower during the summer months. A ring of pink to violet-red flowers appear on the crown of the stem of the small rainbow cacti. (Echinocereus rigidissimus v. rubrispinus) The rainbow cactus has short spines that appear in bands of pink or red around the body of the cactus.
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