Desert Cacti (Arids)

Desert cacti have a weird beauty that grows on you.  It’s not all flowers and foliage but rather structure, shape and the colour of their spines. The shape can be columnar (tall, erect), globular (round, barrel-shaped) or arborescent (branching, tree-shaped). The colour of the spines vary but their beauty is enhanced with the sun reflecting off and through the spines. 

Understanding the natural habitat of a plant and trying to replicate this environment in your home, is important. Desert cacti have adapted to arid regions with very little rain or moisture available to them. If it does rain, it is usually transient so to adapt to these harsh conditions they have found ways to efficiently collect and store water in their stem. Their spines (highly modified leaves) aid in surviving in a harsh environment. Warmth, airflow, a good watering followed by a period of dry, a sheltered position, particularly in winter and one that receives plenty of sunshine and light. It is always better to underwater than overwater as cacti roots rot easily when exposed to too much moisture, more so in winter. As more roots die, the stem starts to deteriorate, turning soft and changing colour.

Melbourne’s temperate ‘Mediterranean’ climate, suits arid cacti, particularly in the warmer months. In winter,  most cacti are dormant and should be kept dry indoors in a warm spot with plenty of light or outside in a greenhouse. Hairy cacti are more prone to rot so place in a sheltered position all year round.

Columnar Cacti (upright)

Silver Torch (Cleistocactus strausii) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Cleistocactus strausii (native to Bolivia and Argentina)

AKA_ Silver Torch Cactus, Woolly Cactus

FEATURES_The Cleistocactus strausii has a green stem that takes on a silver-grey appearance due to its short, whitish densespines. It is an erect columnar cacti with ribbed, eventually branched, cylindrical stems bearing dense spines and tubular red flowers in summer.  Grows to 1.5m.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ Hairy and lovable.

Azure Torch (Azureocereus hertlingianus) + Cement Planter



BOTANICAL NAME_ Azureocereus hertlingianus

AKA_also known as Azure Torch, Blue Cactus

FEATURES_ A spectacular turquoise blue coloured columnar cactus that can grow to 2m tall in the ground, albeit a slow grower.  Plants will remain much smaller contained in a pot. Golden brown spines are the perfect colour contrast to the turquoise blue. Can branch at the base and maintains its bluish colour with age. Very impressive specimen in the garden or confined to a container.

PLANT PERSONALITY_  Minimalist and imposing, bold and individualistic.

Peruvian Old Man Cactus (Espostoa lanata) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Espostoa lanata

AKA_also known as ‘Peruvian Old Man Cactus’

FEATURES_ Lanata is a very desirable cactus due to its attractive white hair and upright growth and habit.  Very slow growing with plants taking 10-20 years to reach 50cm to 100cm. Specimens over 50 years old can be spectacular (hope you’re young)

PLANT PERSONALITY_  The name says it all ‘Old man’. Plant gift for dad and his greying whispy locks whether it be for his birthday or Father’s Day. Or any friend who is old before his/her time. Milestone birthdays.

Peruvian Old Lady Cactus (Espostoa melanostele) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Espostoa melanostele

AKA_also known as ‘Peruvian Old Lady Cactus’

FEATURES_ Melanostele is a very desirable cactus due to its dense white hair and thick upright growth habit. Slow growing reaching 50cm in 10 to 20 years. Older plants will form multiple offsets from their base.

PLANT PERSONALITY_  The name says it all ‘Old Lady Cactus’. Humorous plant gift for mum on Mother’s Day or a friend to let them know they’re getting old on their birthday. Perfect for milestone birthdays.

Globose (round, barrel-shaped)

Oroya borchersii + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Oroya borchersii (native to Peru)

FEATURES_ Stunning high altitude species from Peru. Beautiful golden spines, adn golden flowers. Oroya borchersii is a solitary globular cactus up to 20cm and completely covered with thin yellow spines.  It is considered one of the most beautiful species of this genus.  It reminds me of greek kadaifi noodles.

HISTORY_ This small genre is primarily found in the highlands of Peru and derive their name from the Peruvian town La Oroya where they were first found.


‘Chin Cactus’ (Gymnocalycium anisitsii ) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Gymnocalycium sp. (native to Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil)

AKA_ Chin Cactus

FEATURES_ Very attractive compact species growing to 10cm across.  Stunning flowers appear in summer and last for 4-8 weeks. Plants remain solitary but sometimes produce an offset with age. Very slow growing.

FOLKLORE_ Gymnocalycium from the Greek word ‘Gymnos’ meaning naked and Kalyx meaning bud.  Naked calyx refers to the flower buds bearing no hair or spines.

The Traveller’s Cactus (Ferocactus sp.)+ Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Ferocactus sp. (native to Mexico)

AKA_ The Traveller’s Friend

FEATURES_ Ferocactus is a genus of large barrel shaped cactus. Ferox meaning fierce and Kaktos is the Greek word for thistle. It has large spines and smallish flowers that are diurnal (open during the day) in summer.

FOLKLORE_ Nicknamed ‘The Traveller’s Friend’ due to the belief that the barrels contain a well of water waiting to be tapped into by a parched traveller passing by. Not recommended to drink the water though!

Powder Puff Cactus (Mammillaria bocasana) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Mammillaria bocasana v roseaflora (native to Mexico)

AKA_ Powder Puff Cactus, Pin Cushion Cactus

FEATURES_ Powder Puff Cactus is a small, globose (spherical habit) cactus.  A nice fluffy contrast to other Cacti in your collection or an easy care one to kick off a collection. Great texture, coppery hook spines have a fluffy coating of white, cottony hair that has unique aesthetic merit. Soft pink flowers.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ Soft, fluffy and feminine.  Powder puff facade but mess with her and you’re likely to come off second best in the nicest possible way.  Easy care and very pretty in flower.

Monk’s Hood Cactus ‘Astrophytum ornatum’ + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Ferocactus latispinus

AKA_also known as the Monk’s Hood Cactus

FEATURES_ Ornatum is one of the most attractive of all cacti species with attractive spine formations on a neatly adorned body.  The species is highly variable. Growth is slow taking 20 or 30 years to achieve maximum width of 12cm and 20-30cm high. Spotted and globose.

PLANT TRAITS_ Adaptable and strong. Claw back lost ground. Look ahead to a bright future. This cactus can withstand hostile environments and overcame adversity. It’s unique ability to store water for long periods to carry it through periods of drought to survive and continue to thrive.  It sends a message to stay strong and true to yourself.


Clumping Cacti (produces offsets)

The Bridal Ball (Mammillaria bombycina) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Mammillaria bombycina

AKA_ The Bridal Ball

FEATURES_ Probably the most popular and beautiful of all the mammillarias, bombycina eventually grows to 20com high and produces numerous offsets.  In spring pink flowers appear in a ring on the previous year’s growth.

OCCASION_ Soft, fluffy and feminine, the bridal ball is perfect gift for weddings, engagements or a small gift to your partner to push things along.

‘Un Pico’ (Mammillaria spinosissima) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Mammillaria spinosissima

AKA_ Un Pico

FEATURES_ Compact clustering habit with a ring of crimson flowers in late winter.  It gets its name ‘Pico’ due to having only one spine per areole. The stem is columnar often solitary and sometimes clumping.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ The perfect gift for beginner cacti collectors.  Low maintenance and drought tolerant.  The Little One.

Golden Torch (Eriocactus) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Eriocactus lenninghausii

AKA_ Golden Torch Cactus

FEATURES_The Golden Torch Cactus has a green stem with dense golden spines. It is an erect columnar cacti with ribbed, eventually clumping, cylindrical stems bearing large yellow flowers in late Spring.  Slowing growing to 30 – 40 cm in 10 + years. Can be kept in a small pot for years. Compact clustering habit.


‘Crown Cactus (Aylostera pulvinosa) + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Aylostera pulvinosa (also Rebutia pulvinosa, native to Bolivia)

AKA_ Crown Cactus

FEATURES_ A small clumping, clustering cacti with vibrant orange flowers.  Quickly produces offsets with a spreading “pulvinus” cushion habit.  Bright green in colour and covered in a mesh of white spines.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ The perfect gift for beginner cacti collectors.  Something that grows and multiplies over time.

Lobivia schieliana + cement planter



BOTANICAL NAME_ Lobivia schieliana (native to Bolivia)

FEATURES_ A dwarf compact cactus with short, dense, recurved spines resembling scorpions. Numerous offsets are produced to create a low clumping cactus with rusty coloured spines. Large, red 6cm flowers appear enmasse in warmer months. The tight knit spines create a repeat pattern of uniformity

PLANT PERSONALITY_  Scorpios. Passionate, Dominating, Sexual, Defensive, Ardent, Transformative. One of the most important spiritual meanings that scorpions convey is that of isolation. They are quite solitary creatures by nature, only interacting with others sporadically and on rare occasions. The perfect isolation succulent.

Little Suns (Mammillaria elongata) Cactus + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Mammillaria elongata (Native to Mexico)

AKA_ LIttle Suns Cactus

FEATURES_ Gold, interlacing, star shaped ribs (spines) on cylindrical, prostrate stems.  A clumping cactus that produces many offsets. Will get deeper colour with more sunlight.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ The perfect gift for beginner cacti collectors.  Low maintenance and drought tolerant.  The Golden Child.

Mammillaria elegans + Cement Planter


BOTANICAL NAME_ Mammillaria elegans, native to Mexico and United States

AKA_ Pin Cushion Cactus, Nipple Cactus

FEATURES_ Mammillaria elegans is a globular cactus with dense white spines and white wool. Rings of crimson flowers in late winter provide beautiful contrast to a white, woolly body. Compact, clustering habit. Protect from frost to prevent scarring.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ Neat, uniform and minimalist.  Strives for perfection and order. Perfect desktop plant for a sunny office or outdoor porch that receives lots of morning sun to early afternoon sun.

Arborescent Cacti (Tree, Branching Form)

Albino Corn Cob Cactus (Euphorbia mammillaris variegata)


BOTANICAL NAME_ Euphorbia mammillaris (variegata)

AKA_ Indian Corn Cob Cactus

FEATURES_ Attractive clumping cactus with cream to green-emerald green variegated patterning.  Stems are thick, erect and ribbed with branching laterals.  Can be flushed with pink tips in cold weather adding to the aesthetic.

PLANT TRAITS_ Clustering variegated club like stems resembling a corn cob.

Cathedral Cactus (Euphorbia trigona)+ Floor Planter



BOTANICAL NAME_ Euphorbia trigona (native to West Africa)

AKA_ African Milk Tree, Cathedral Cactus, Candelabra Cactus

FEATURES_ A very attractive, branching 3-4 sided upright stem that can grow to a height of 2.7m in the right conditions in ground. Much smaller in a pot. The stem is dark green with a light green patterned spine that is a very attractive feature of this plant. Leaves grow between long thorns and can flower (yellow or white) in spring but not so often in pots. Easy to care for. A structurally beautiful, architectural plant.

PLANT PERSONALITY_ For strong, multi faceted and talented humans. The Architect, schemer, builder, dreamer. Perfect for new beginnings, new homes and renovations. Build it and they will come. Housewarming gift. The Candelabra / Cathedral Cactus has a natural tie in with weddings and celebrations too.