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Expert Guide: Orange Flower Cactuses

When it comes to cacti, an orange flower isn’t entirely uncommon. You have several species of cacti that can grow orange flowers. The striking color and the pleasant aroma of a cactus flower has led to it becoming a favorite. Meanwhile, they attract pollinators such as bats and bees. Yes, you read that right, bats serve as quintessential pollinators in tropical and desert climates where they will free the cacti from pests by feeding on them. Over 300 species of fruit depend on bats for pollination.

Types of Cactus with Orange Flowers

  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Barrel cactus
  • Christmas cactus
  • Organ pipe cactus
  • Moon cactus
  • Desert gem
  • Crown cactus
  • Orange snowball cactus
  • Claret cup cactus
  • Red Tom Thumb Cactus
  • Easter cactus

What Determines Flower Color?

The color of the flower occurs due to the reflected light of various chemical compounds known as plant pigments. You may see a cactus with a red flower turn orange over time. Color changes in a flower indicate that the flower has matured past the pollination stage. 

Hot temperatures and direct sunlight can fade flower color, which explains why the flower occasionally changes from red to orange. Contrasted with cool weather, the flower colors may become more intense. 

With each cactus, when they flower and how they flower will depend on the species of cactus. The orange color may vary as well. Stay tuned as we cover each of these cactuses and how their orange flower looks. 

Prickly Pear Cactus

The prickly pear cactus will occasionally produce a beautiful orange-yellow flower. While many love it for its flower and its fruit, they fear it for its fearsome spines. You may see the prickly pear cactus turn color over time. For example, it may start out yellow and grow orange over time. Once the prickly pear reaches maturity, you may see a bright red flower. The prickly pear produces wonderful flowers, but it will later give you an equally delicious fruit. 

You typically see the prickly pear cactus bloom in the spring to early summer. The blossoms will usually be large and breathtaking. 

Even if the flower looks yellow, check the inside of the flower to see if it doesn’t look orange or red on the inside. Prickly pear refers to a plant genus of about 100 species, so it’s a broad topic to cover. Two examples of the prickly pear cacti species with orange flowers include Englemann’s Prickly Pear and the Desert Gem, but you have many others.

Barrel Cactus

The Barrel Cactus has different flowers from that of the prickly pear in that the reddish-orange petals will form at the crown of the cactus. If you want true orange flowers from the barrel cactus, choose the Mexican Flame Cactus since this gives you the only clumping barrel cactus that has a true orange flower. 

The other ones do have orange, but it mixes in with a lot of red or yellow. In some cases, the barrel cactus may even have a purple flower. While rare, the barrel cactus will occasionally produce a fruit that you can eat. You can even eat this fruit raw. It has a light and lemony flavor with shiny black seeds. Still, you probably choose this over Saguaro cactus fruit or the prickly pear fruit.

You will typically see blooms on the barrel cactus starting in April. In some cases, the Barrel Cactus will flower up until September, but you rarely see it flower after October.

Orange and yellow flowers are the most common, but pink and red do occur from time to time. Once the flowers begin to wilt around May, you may see the flower change to another color. 

Christmas Cactus

The Christmas Cactus has a reputation for its bright blooms and it blooms in a variety of colors including orange. They bloom during the Christmas season, which was how this plant received its name. In some cases, you may see this plant flower with a yellow-orange flower. 

While this plant readily adapts to conditions with low light, they bloom best in bright and indirect sunlight. You don’t want to place it in full sunlight because it produces a dark red on its leaves when burnt. Pay attention to the light and the temperature to see orange blossoms. The perfect temperature for blooming sits between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Beware of too hot or too cold of drafts since this can damage the blooms. 

Keep the Christmas Cactus away from heated vents and leaky doors. The drafts can prevent flowers.

Organ Pipe Cactus

Blooming from April to June, the organ pipe cactus often has white flowers. This cactus is known for the large and bright orange flowers that it produces. Many times, this cactus produces a bright reddish-orange flower. The orange flowers on this cactus develop in the center of the plant. The organ pipe cactus can live for up to 150 years, and it doesn’t produce its first flower until the age of 35 when it matures.

This shows us the second largest cactus species in the United States, which can grow up to 24 feet tall. The first largest species is the Mexican giant Cardon cactus, which can reach up to 63 feet tall. 

Most of the time, this cactus will bloom at night, and the flowers grow at the tip of the stems. You can find this cactus in its native habitat in southern Arizona in the Sonora Desert. Just keep in mind that the orange flowers aren’t as common as the white or lavender with this one. 

The Moon Cactus

Many love the moon cactus, and you can buy this one in a variety of colors including orange. Oftentimes, newcomers to the moon cactus will mistake the top-colored part for the flower. In fact, that is grafted onto the plant. While one moon cactus might be short and fat, you have others that are thin and tall. 

In some cases, the moon cactus prospers and you will get flowers out of it. Orange and yellow give us the most common color of moon cactus. 

When this cactus blooms, the flower will usually only last for 12 hours. About once a year after the plant matures, it will produce flowers. You may want to give it more moisture during this time since it will produce more blossoms. Like most cacti, the moon cactus uses water and sunlight as energy to produce blossoms. 

This is a slow-growing cactus compared to other species. You wouldn’t buy this one for its miraculous growth, but many cacti don’t grow quickly. 

Related Article: Expert Guide: Red Cactus Flower

Desert Gem

Considered a small variety of the prickly pear cactus, you will see this cactus produce orange flowers from time to time. When it blooms, the desert gem has vibrant orange flowers. This cactus blooms in the spring and summer season. In its native habitat in Mexico, it can grow up to 24 inches tall. 

You would categorize the desert gem as an indoor cactus species. They don’t require much care, and they need minimal amount of water to produce flowers. Using some tomato fertilizer, however, will encourage it to produce its vibrant orange blossoms. You want to keep this cactus in the light to help it produce its flowers since it loves the sunlight. 

Crown Cactus

The orange flowers on the crown cactus are very beautiful and appealing. Once it produces a flower, you will see it make bright orange and daisy-like flowers. They call this cactus a free-flowering species, which means that it has a continuous flowering cycle throughout the growing season. They bloom throughout the spring of the year. 

Many times, the stems will be covered in thorns, and they produce a delicate flower. 

Orange Snowball Cactus

You can choose to put the orange snowball cactus either inside or outdoors. Place it in an area where it can absorb the morning sun. The gorgeous orange blossoms on the orange snowball cactus will catch your attention right away. Younger orange snowball cactus will often produce a big and yellow flower, but the older plants tend to produce red, pink and orange flowers.

Many consider the orange snowball cactus a highly ornamental plant because of its bright colors. This plant grows its best when you position it in full sunlight. The sunlight will help it to produce energy for flowers as well. 

You can typically expect to see this cactus bloom in the spring. They call this a snowball cactus because the thick, white spines on it make it appear like a snowball.  

Claret Cup Cactus

The claret cup cactus produces a flower that looks orange or red, but it looks like one of the most beautiful of flowers. The bright red and orange flowers will often cover this cactus. This cylindrical and low-growing plant has a dense and spiny surface. The spines on this one fall off seasonally. 

Many people cultivate the claret cup cactus because of its beautiful orange flowers. This cactus can thrive in conditions with little water and extreme temperatures. You will see it bloom after five to 10 years, and the blooming usually happens from April to June. 

You can find this native plant growing wild in the southwestern part of the United States like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. You will find this cactus growing in Mexico as well. This desert dweller likes to grow in gravelly soil.

Red Tom Thumb Cactus

This small globe-shaped cactus has red, pink or orange flowers depending on the plant. It produces them in the spring and summer of the year. Most of the time, the flowers will be orange with a red tinge. This plant can reach up to 15 cm in height. The flowers will usually be about 3 cm across. 

The cactus grows its best in bright sunlight. You will want to use well-drained soil to prevent root rot, which is common for any cactus with poor drainage. 

Beware of this cactus because it does have some sharp spines on it that you don’t want to touch. Many times, you will see this cactus used as filler for rocky gardens. 

Easter Cactus

The Easter Cactus got its name because it usually blooms around the Easter season. The orange blooms will usually be about 2 inches across. You can expect this cactus to bloom anywhere from March to May. This cactus is interesting in that its orange blooms will open each morning, and they will close every night. 

You can expect the Easter Cactus to flower once a year, but they have been known to flower twice in a year. Usually, drier and cooler conditions of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit will suit it best at night. Don’t place this cactus near cool drafts or directly next to a heat source since it can prevent it from producing its soft orange flowers. 

Usually, a warmer home will do better because the blooming season will start earlier for the cactus. This isn’t like a desert cactus, and the Easter Cactus does better in cooler temperatures. 

How long the blooms continue for will depend on the growing conditions of your plant. Many people like to buy an Easter Cactus even during its blooming season. It’s not uncommon. 

What Triggers the Orange Flowers on a Cactus?

What makes a cactus bloom so well has to do with three factors: water deprivation, bright light and semi-dormancy in the winter. All of this contributes to the cactus producing bright orange flowers in abundance come the spring of the year. Many cacti will produce flowers in the spring season as they come out of dormancy. Once the spring season hits and you start to water them again more frequently, it brings them out of that stage to produce beautiful flowers. 

Final Thoughts

I have highlighted 11 cacti here that produce orange flowers. That doesn’t cover all of them, but it gives you an idea. Some of them will flower easier than others, and you may struggle to get an orange bloom with some since most cacti never produce just a single color. You usually have the potential for them to produce a variety of flower colors. 

If you’d like to learn more about the cactus and its flowers, I wrote another one here about yellow cactus flowers. Learn about the different varieties of cacti that produce yellow flowers to help you on your quest to collect different flower colors.

Expert Guide: Cactus of New Mexico

Despite it commonly depicted as a land of desert full of cactuses, New Mexico has one of the most diverse landscapes out of all the states. You will see everything from the auburn-colored deserts and broken mesas to the wide-open grasslands and snow-capped mountain peaks. They even have a few extinct volcanoes here. With that in mind, cactus life is just as diverse here, and you have 38 cactus species in New Mexico. 

Types of Cactus in New Mexico

We put together this helpful table about the cacti of New Mexico to help you to better understand each species. This is an extensive list, and we don’t expect anyone to look at everything all at once, but it can give you the necessary information for each cactus if you have any questions. 

Keep in mind, when we talk about the range, we’re only covering New Mexico to simplify the information, but you can find some of the cacti in other states:

Common NameCommon RangeHabitat
Horse crippler Southeast New MexicoGrasslands, scrublands, deserts flats
Smallflower fishhook cactusNorthwest New MexicoCanyons, grasslands, sandstone plateaus
Night-blooming cereus Southwest New MexicoGrasslands, scrublands
Mountain ball cactusNorth New MexicoPinyon-juniper woodland, grasslands, elevation up to 11,000 feet
Plains prickly pearMiddle to high-range new MexicoWoodlands, hillsides, grasslands
Tulip prickly pearThroughout New MexicoCanyons, scrublands, grasslands 
Purple prickly pearSouth New MexicoWell-drained sand and gravel soils
Texas prickly pearSoutheast New MexicoWoodlands, grasslands
Brittle prickly pearEast New MexicoChihuahua desert, scrublands, limestone hills
Barbary figThroughout New MexicoGravely flats, scrublands
Mojave prickly pearNorthwest New MexicoJoshua tree communities, scrublands, pinyon-juniper woodland
Pancake prickly pearSouthwest New MexicoMountain foothills, rocky slopes, scrublands
Heyder pincushion cactusMany parts of New MexicoGrassland, scrubland
Arizona fishhook cactusSouthwest New MexicoGrassland, scrubland
Graham’s cholla cactusSouth New MexicoDry washes, sandy plains, gravel flats
Devil chollaSouthwest New MexicoScrublands, desert flats, hillsides that reach to 4,000 feet
Club chollaCentral and Northwest New MexicoPinyon-juniper woodlands, grasslands, hillsides
Arizona barrel cactusSouthwest New MexicoGravel or sand plains
Texas barrel cactusSouth New MexicoLimestone cliffs and hillsides
Common beehive cactusThroughout New MexicoAll environments up to 8,500 feet
Cob beehive cactusSouth New MexicoPine-oak woodland, scrubland, grasslands
Nylon hedgehog cactusNorth and West New MexicoPrairies, grasslands, Chihuahuan desert plains 
Claret cup cactusThroughout New MexicoSandy deserts, grasslands, gravel slopes, canyon sides
Strawberry hedgehog cactusChihuahuan desertsRocky and gravelly slopes, sunny areas
Arizona rainbow cactusSouthwest New MexicoCanyon walls, arid grasslands, rocky hillsides
Lace hedgehog cactusEast New MexicoChihuahuan desert grasslands, pine and oak woods, scrublands
Fendler’s hedgehogCentral and East New MexicoBushy plateaus, hillsides, woodlands, grasslands
Robust hedgehog cactusSouthwest New MexicoHillsides, scrublands, rocky deserts
Green strawberry hedgehogSouth New MexicoScrublands, low elevation areas, open areas
Texas rainbow cactus South New MexicoCanyon sides, grassy plains, scrublands, limestone terraces
Brown flowered cactusSouth New MexicoPrefers full sun, gravely slopes
Arizona claret cup cactusSouthwest New MexicoScrublands, grasslands, limestone canyons
Whipple chollaWest New MexicoWoodlands, grasslands, scrublands
Cane chollaWest New MexicoDesert plains, grasslands
Christmas chollaThroughout New MexicoCanyon sides, scrublands, grasslands
Tree chollaThroughout New MexicoHillsides, scrublands, woodlands, grasslands
Robust spine beehive cactusScattered in areas throughout New MexicoDry washes, grasslands, scrublands
Nipple beehive cactusSoutheast New MexicoHillsides and gravelly flats

Most Common Cactus in New Mexico

In terms of cholla cactus species, the cane cholla, also known as the tree cholla, is the most common cholla here. Some have even interestingly named it the chainlink cactus—picture that! This tree-like cactus has the potential to grow up to 8 feet tall and has spiny, fleshy stems. When the plant dies, it looks like a woody skeleton. 

You can see this cactus wild at Petroglyph National Monument and White Sands National Park. Especially when it flowers, it becomes one of the most beautiful plants in the desert. The best time to see them flower is from April to June. Most chollas will bloom once a year, and you can usually see the flower for two to three days. 

After it flowers, it produces a conical yellow fruit. While the fruits are edible, the plant is covered in spines requiring some heavy preparation if you wanted to eat it. Most people only consider it a survival fruit because you waste more time and energy preparing than what you get out of it for its small size. 

The other danger comes from this one’s reputation for its painful spines making the fruit less worth the effort unless you were in a dire situation.

Along with being common in New Mexico, it can be found as a native species throughout the American Southwest. In the past, Native American tribes would harvest the fruit to eat it raw, stew it or ground it into flour. Whenever the cholla dies, it creates this elaborate pattern of wood that has become popular in furniture. 

In case you’d like to see the process of processing dead cholla wood and what it looks like, check it out here:

If you’d like an interesting plant holder made out of cholla wood, we’d recommend going with the Cholla Air Plant Holder. Check it out and see how unique it looks. Another bonus is that they made it in the USA. It serves as a great conversation-starter piece in the home for anyone who has never seen cholla wood before. 

Cane cholla are the largest cacti in New Mexico, and if you wanted to see the biggest cane cholla, we would recommend checking out White Sands National Park. The cane cholla has the potential to grow between 3 to 5 feet tall, and it will live for roughly 20 years. 

Where Would You Look for Cactus in New Mexico?

If you want to see cactus in New Mexico, you need to know where to look to have the best results. Come especially in the late spring to early summer season to see the cactus light up the desert with their blooms. The northern part of New Mexico is probably one of the worst areas to find cactus. You can find some cholla, prickly pear and other small cacti growing in Taos and Santa Fe, but it doesn’t have as many opportunities as in the southern parts of New Mexico. You may see some but not as many. 

A large part of the northern regions of New Mexico is either forest or high desert. Check more in the desert areas for the best opportunities. One time passing through the grassland parts of northeastern New Mexico, I don’t remember seeing any cactus in that area. It was mostly open grasslands, so it depends on where you go in New Mexico, but the deserts will offer you the best opportunities. 

Desert Spoon 

Right away, the name draws your attention, and they call it this because of its spoon-shaped leaves. This cactus can reach a height of 4 to 5 feet tall in diameter, and at the seven to 10-year mark, it starts to produce flowers. They only flower once every few years, but you can spot a desert spoon easily for its unique appearance. The female plant produces purplish-pink flowers, which have a creamy yellow color.

If you’d like to attract hummingbirds and bees, they love the desert spoon cactus, so you might plant it in your cactus garden. In some cases, you will hear people call it the spoon yucca plant. Keep in mind if you were to take in this plant, it’s a slow grower. 

Claret Cup Cactus

Producing some of the most beautiful red flowers, you can find this cactus in the White Sands region of South Central New Mexico. Growing it as a cactus, you have one of the easiest growing cacti around. People have called it several names over the years that include:

  • Hedgehog cactus
  • Strawberry cactus
  • King’s crown cactus
  • Spineless hedgehog
  • Scarlet Hedgehog cactus
  • Kingcup cactus

Along with it growing in New Mexico, you will find this cactus in Arizona and the northern regions of Mexico. Head to the southern regions of New Mexico to the Chihuahuan deserts, and you will find the species commonly growing here. You can often find the claret cup cactus growing at the base of juniper trees in New Mexico since this cactus is an example of one cactus that prefers a little shade. 

Some of the other areas where you might look for it in New Mexico include mountain woodlands, rocky slopes and lower desert areas. Claret cup cactus flowers have a nectar chamber inside the base of the flower and the hummingbird has to stick its whole head into the flower to pollinate it. 

Many people like to cultivate this cactus because of its beautiful red flowers. In case you’d like to learn more about red cactus flowers, I wrote about a few different types of cactus species that have red flowers here

Horse Crippler

The horse crippler cactus got its name from its strong spines that lay hidden like a landmine in wait of any creatures that might stand on it. Many horses have been crippled from stepping on it. Commonly found in Big Bend National Park, it remains rare in most other areas. Look in southeast New Mexico for the best results in the state.

This cactus species can tolerate frost well, and its body is twice as wide as it is high. Hence the reason that animals will often stand on it before they see it, including humans. Normally, it only stands 1 to 2 inches above the ground, but it can reach up to 1 foot across. The issue comes from how the grass will often cover it until your horse stands right on it. 

I find the pink flowers on this cactus not only beautiful but unique. The flower has a deep red center, and it blooms in the spring of the year. When you take good care of this cactus, it will look stunning in a garden. You want to be aware of where you put it, however, but don’t leave it in an area where it might get covered up so that you would accidentally step on it. 

You can see this plant take root in mountain foothills and rocky slopes, but it adapts best to the scrublands of deserts. If you see this plant out in the desert, look at it, but don’t touch it. 

You can check out the horse crippler among some other New Mexico cactus species in the video here:

Prickly Pear Cactus

There are seven species of prickly pear cactus in New Mexico. Although to put that into perspective, they have over 200 species of prickly pear cactus, so it’s a broad species with many twists and turns. Let’s have a look at the species that they have in New Mexico. 

The plains prickly pear cactus is native to New Mexico, and it has been eaten in both Native American and Mexican dishes. Their fruits have been used in jellies, jams and juices. 

The shallow roots of this cactus allow it to capture rainfall easily, and it stores the water throughout the pads of the plant. This cactus can handle the cold better than most species, and because of that, you can find it further north than other species.

Next, you have the tulip prickly pear cactus. The bright and showy flowers of this cactus will eventually develop into a fruit called tunas. This prickly pear prefers the sun, but it can periodically withstand freezes and do fine. In general, this cactus prefers to be hot and dry.

The purple prickly pear cactus has become a popular species for its purple color. In some cases, other cacti can turn purple as well, but it isn’t always a good thing. This one does it naturally, and aside from the color, it looks like a regular prickly pear cactus. The purple prickly pear would make for a great choice to add some color to a cactus garden. 

The pancake prickly pear has spines that become blackish as they age. In all honesty, this isn’t one of my favorite cacti in terms of beauty—it doesn’t look good. This cactus, however, can have hundreds of pads that all come from a single trunk. In some cases, you may see no spines on the pancake prickly pear. They have been known to reach heights of up to 8 feet tall. The pads on this one are fast-growing stems, and it’s one of the faster-growing prickly pear cactus species. 

Night-Blooming Cereus

If you want to know where to find the night-blooming cereus in New Mexico, check Hidalgo County in southern New Mexico. It’s the southernmost county in all of New Mexico, and it’s a rare and endangered cactus that sometimes occurs in the Chihuahuan desert. Most of the time, this cactus looks like a dead bush, but it has one of the more beautiful flowers when it blooms. 

Usually, it will bloom from May to June, but it has gone all the way to October and even later in rare cases. The blooming happens sporadically, rather than continuously. Also, they don’t bloom until they reach maturity at four to five years old. 

Unlike some of the other cacti, the night-bloom cereus blooms after dark usually from 8 pm to 9 pm. They wilt before sunrise. The buds will open slowly, and they release a sweet fragrance worth the wait for plant lovers. For new night–blooming cereus, they will usually only produce a couple of flowers for their first time blooming. 

In fact, they have several different types of night-blooming cereus, and the species will determine how often and when it will bloom at night. 

Devil Cholla

Found in the Chihuahuan desert and southwestern New Mexico, it got its name because of their well-defined tubercles. They’re dagger-sharp as anyone knows who may have been unlucky enough to step on them. In many cases, they appear as simple ground creepers, but you will ruin your day if you step on them.

The spines from this cactus come in all colors, and it has many regional names depending on the area. You will find this plant scattered around in the low elevation regions like the Chihuahuan desert. 

In most of New Mexico, you can find the devil cholla even if you don’t see as much of it in certain parts. Cholla in general are some of the most widespread cacti throughout the state.

Do They Have the Saguaro Cactus in New Mexico?

You can find the Saguaro cactus in southern Arizona and western Sonora, Mexico. The cactus cannot be found growing wild in New Mexico since it isn’t native there, but some have found a few stray plants of it in southeast California. All in all, Saguaro only grows in the Sonoran desert, and they only grow in parts of the Sonoran desert. 

The Saguaro is, however, common to the Sonoran desert, and the government doesn’t list it as an endangered plant. 

Final Thoughts

New Mexico holds 38 species of cactus within the state, and we covered some of the more interesting species within the state. The one that you will find most commonly here is the many species of cholla. If you’d like to see the earliest flowering cactus in Central New Mexico, look for the Chihuahuan Pineapple Cactus. The flowers are mostly white with cream-colored anthers. 

If you have any thoughts or comments about the cacti in New Mexico, please free to leave a comment below for open discussion. What’s your favorite cactus in this state?

Expert Guide: Red Cactus Flower

The deep shade of a red flower on a cactus is inviting and draws the eye. This depends on the species of cactus as well since some have a higher chance of producing red flowers. Red is such a beautiful and powerful color that it grabs your attention as soon as you see it. In America, red represents love and desire, but in China, it represents happiness and prosperity.

Let’s have a look at the red cactus flower and the different species of cacti that produce them. Some of the cactus species that produce red flowers include:

  • Prickly pear cactus 
  • Christmas cactus
  • Barrel cactus
  • Moon cactus
  • Claret cup cactus
  • Fishhook cactus
  • Fire barrel cactus
  • Peanut cactus

The flower on each cactus will vary depending on the species. I personally find some of the cactus flowers more beautiful than others. Some of the flowers will happen more frequently whereas others will take more time. It depends on the species of cactus and oftentimes, a red flower isn’t guaranteed since it may be yellow, pink or orange in many cases. It depends on each cactus. 

Prickly Pear Cactus

Believe it or not, the prickly pear cactus can survive the freezing temperatures in the north because of the special antifreeze chemicals found in its cells.

Along with producing a red flower, the prickly pear cactus produces a delicious reddish-pink fruit as well. The flower on a prickly pear cactus could be red, yellow or purple. Interestingly, the fruits will vary in color, too, and they may be red, yellow-orange or even green in some cases. 

They even have a specific species of red flower prickly pear known as the red flower prickly pear or the opuntia elatior for its botanical name. This invasive prickly pear species is less widespread than most, however. Typically, it will produce either a red flower or an orange flower. They usually bloom from May to July. The cactus grows up to 6 inches tall.

The flowers on a prickly pear are known for their cup shape. You can find the prickly pear growing throughout North America and down into parts of South America. This cactus grows easily, and it will usually produce a flower at the three to the four-year mark. Once it starts producing flowers it will produce fruits. 

Prickly pear fruits will usually produce fruit in the late summer through to the early winter. We would say that the peak season for the fruits happen from September to December in the Northern hemisphere.

Christmas Cactus

You can buy the Christmas cactus in a variety of flower colors including red. Other colors include yellow, salmon, white and bi-color. The red Christmas cactus can adapt to low-light conditions, but it starts producing blooms as soon as you expose it to bright light. You might set them in an east-facing window to let their branches bloom with red. 

As the name suggests, the Christmas cactus will produce its red flowers right around the Christmas season. Keep in mind, this may not be exactly on Christmas. Typically, they will start to flower from the early winter through to the mid-winter. 

This popular houseplant has a few secrets to get it to bloom. First, let’s understand a bit about the Christmas cactus. All of the species originated in the humid and shady forests of Brazil, and they live above ground in the trees where decomposing leaves and moss meet. 

When the Christmas cactus starts to bloom, you want to increase the water given because this keeps its beautiful blooms as stunning as possible. If you have ever seen how a flower wilts without water, the same is true of a Christmas cactus when it doesn’t receive enough water. It requires water to produce the energy for its flowers. 

Christmas cactuses prefer indirect sunlight since direct sunlight can cause the leaves to burn dark red.

Light and temperature are the two keys to beautiful blooms on your Christmas cactus. You want a cool and shady area where it will experience indirect light. They require about eight hours of sunlight per day to flower. 

Expert Tip: Wherever you place the Christmas cactus, don’t turn on the light at night since this can interfere with it flowering. Beware of hot and cold drafts as well. 

Barrel Cactus

Did you know that the barrel cactus has an average lifespan of between 50 to 100 years? It commonly grows from 2 to 4 feet tall. We wouldn’t recommend that you buy this one to watch it flower as a beginner since it can take up to 15 years to produce its first flower, or it will need to be a minimum of 6 inches wide. In some cases, it will take up to 20 years before it flowers.

Personally, I don’t find the barrel cactus to produce the prettiest of red flowers either. They sit on the top as smaller flowers that blend in with the cactus. I wouldn’t buy this one strictly to watch it flower. The flowers will appear in a ring at the top. The petals produced are many, and they’re very unlike the other flowers for cacti. 

Many people know of the barrel cactus as an emergency source of water in the desert. This cactus originates in the deserts of Mexico, and it’s used to getting an intense amount of sunlight. It will need an abundance of sunlight to produce its flowers. 

The flowers will be red, orange or yellow. Depending on the species, most of them bloom from April to June. 

Moon Cactus

Known as a grafted specimen of cactus, this means that one plant was formed from two species of cactus that they fused together. They nearly always grow the moon cactus in a pot as opposed to in the garden, and it produces a small red, pink, yellow or white flower in the late spring to early summer. 

The moon cactus almost looks like a ruby red ball, and their distinct look makes it impossible to mistake them for anything else. When we say moon cactus, it usually refers to a yellow or orange variety, but it can include the red flower moon cactus as well. 

Once this cactus blooms, it will typically last for 12 hours. More wetness will usually produce more flowering since most species of cactus use water and sunlight as energy to bloom. Moon cactus bloom once a year, and people shouldn’t mistake the colored thing at the top as the flower since the flower will grow over the top of even that. 

Check this video for a demonstration of what a moon cactus with a flower looks like:

We will say that the pink color flower is more common with moon cactuses than red, but we have heard of red flowers as well. We pointed this one out, particularly because of its red color at the top of the plant.

Claret Cup Cactus

I would call the red flowers of the claret cup cactus one of the most beautiful flowers of the cactus species. For me, personally, it’s my favorite next to the Christmas cactus. We would also consider this one of the most attractive hedgehog cacti. It grows in clumps, and it can grow as much as 3 to 4 feet across. In most cases, however, it will be smaller. 

Along with its beauty, this has also received praise as one of the easiest cactuses to grow. The color of the flower will range from light pink and lavender to a dark red rose. 

Don’t be thrown off if you hear it called by another name since this cactus has been called other names as well. Some of the other names that you might hear it called include:

  • Kingcup cactus
  • Mojave mound cactus
  • Scarlet hedgehog cactus
  • King’s crown cactus
  • Strawberry cactus 
  • Spineless hedgehog

You can find the Claret cup cactus growing in the southwestern part of the United States and the northern regions of Mexico. This cactus can also grow in colder climates because it clumps together to hold in the heat. 

Hummingbirds and bees love to pollinate this cactus, and if you planted it in your garden, you would see them visit from time to time. 

The Native Americans used to gather this cactus, burn off its spines and mash its stems. Next, they would add sugar and bake it to make a sweet cake with it.

If you’d like to see what this plant looks like with its red flowers, check it out here:

Fishhook Cactus

The fishhook cactus gives you another example of a cactus that produces a bright red flower. You can find this cactus growing in the deserts of New Mexico, and the flowers aren’t always red. They range in color from pink to lavender. They reach around 1.6 inches in diameter, and they produce a fleshy red fruit that has many black seeds in it. 

This cactus will have a smaller body than many of the others. Still, they become increasingly visible especially during the spring and summer season as the flowers open up in greeting. 

They call this cactus the fishhook cactus because of how it has spines on it that look like fishhooks near the top of it. 

Fire Barrel Cactus

The flowers on the fire barrel cactus will range from darker red to golden yellow. Many times, the flowers on the fire barrel cactus will have a red stripe straight down the middle of it. They bloom from the spring to fall in the American Southwest. This cactus will also have red spines on it, and it produces a fruit on it that feeds the local wildlife. 

Most often when it blooms it will have red flowers, but I’ve seen orange flowers on it as well. This is an especially common species found in Baja California. In some cases in the wild, they will grow up to 6 feet tall. 

Unfortunately, with this cactus, the flowers only last a day in most cases. Interestingly enough, this cactus has formed a symbiotic relationship with native ant populations who protect the fruit of the plant from herbivores who might eat it. They, in turn, are allowed into the nectaries of the plant’s apex. 

Occasionally, you will hear people call this cactus the Mexican lime cactus. This cactus is also frost-hardy and can manage the cold better than some of the other species. 

Peanut Cactus

Another one of the beautiful red flowers from a cactus, the peanut cactus can also produce an orange flower in some cases. The peanut cactus flower has a long lifespan of one week, but they, unfortunately, don’t always appear either. You need to care for the cactus well for the flowers to appear. 

You will also want to bring this plant indoors whenever the temperatures drop to freezing since this plant can’t handle the cold as well as some of the other cactus that we mentioned. 

You can check out the peanut cactus with its red-orange flowers here:

This plant is native to Argentina in the rocky Argentinian mountains, and it has creeping long stems. Giving it strong sunlight is one of the best ways to encourage it to flower. You typically want six to eight hours of sunlight per day for it. In poor lighting conditions, the cactus will grow long and thin stems. It does need some shade, but you have to be careful with this one because it tends to be more finicky. 

Some of the states where it will grow well outdoors include California, Arizona, Texas and Florida. Many of the flowers on this cactus will have a more orange-red type of color to it. It may be more difficult to get it to bloom, but once it blooms, it shows a beautiful flower. 

The peanut cactus has become a popular houseplant over the years because of its beautiful flower, and it grows well in gardens in hot climates. 

What Kind of Cactus Has Red Flowers?

Some of the cactus species that will have red flowers include the prickly pear cactus, Christmas cactus, barrel cactus, claret cup cactus, fishhook cactus, fire barrel cactus and peanut cactus. Keep in mind that they won’t always have a red flower. Some of them will produce a red flower, but it can also be a yellow, white or pink flower. It depends on the species.

With the Christmas cactus, you can buy the red Christmas cactus species. 

How Long Does a Cactus Flower Last?

Cactus flowers will last anywhere from a single day to six weeks depending on the species of cactus, how much sunlight it receives and how much water it receives. They will last longer under the right conditions. You can give it extra water during its flowering season to make it last as long as possible. Keep the soil moist at least and mist it frequently. 

Whenever the top couple of inches dry out, you will want to add water to give it the best chances at keeping its blooms for as long as possible. 

How Cacti Will Bloom

Most cacti will bloom during the rainy season. Many species are used to going through droughts since this is common in the deserts. You often have feast or famine in the deserts. Many times, you will see a cactus totally drowned in the flooding from the rain, but it will take in all this water to store it away for the drought season. 

The only exception to the flowering might be the tropical cactus species, but there are far more desert cacti with over 2,000 species. 

How to Water a Cactus for Blooming

We can’t give you a golden rule on how often to water a cactus because each species will prefer a different watering schedule, but you do have a couple of golden rules that you want to follow to promote its blooming. Over the growing season, cacti will require fertilizer and watering it at least once a week. If you want to know where to get fertilizer, check out Schultz Cactus Plus Fertilizer. This makes a great choice, especially for the Christmas cactus. Also, be aware of how too little water, and they won’t flower. 

The growing season takes place from March to September. When they go dormant, you only want to water them when completely dry. 

The smaller and younger cactus usually require more water because they use it as energy to grow more. You want to water a younger cactus more frequently than older ones. 

Exercise care not to overwater the cactus either since this can cause irreversible effects. One of the signs of a cactus being overwatered is that it will be mushy. You may see it start to turn black. The roots of the cactus are the most sensitive, and they will quickly kill the cactus from root rot if you don’t pay attention. Too much moisture in the roots will cause root rot. Once the roots rot, they can no longer absorb nutrients or water, which will impact their flowering.

Final Thoughts

The red cactus flower is one of the most beautiful colors of the cactus because it stands out so much more than the pink or yellow flower. You especially want to create the right conditions for the blooming stages of the cactus since this will heavily influence whether it blooms, and it will play a role in how long the cactus keeps its flowers. Especially with the Christmas cactus that we mentioned above, you want to take extra measures. 

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about cactuses with yellow flowers, we wrote about that here

Expert Guide: Cactuses with Yellow Flowers

Yellow and white are the most common colors for cactus flowers. We can think of at least five groups of cacti that will show a yellow bloom, and stay tuned because we’re going to cover everything that you need to know about cactuses and how to care for their yellow flowers. Flowers act as a reproductive structure for the cactus and the spines and areoles commonly give rise to the flowers on a cactus. 

Cactus Species with Yellow Flowers

Keep in mind that while some of these cactus species will have yellow flowers, they may have other colors as well depending on the species. Let’s take a look at the cactus species that have yellow flowers—they include:

  • California Barrel Cactus
  • Golden Barrel Cactus
  • Balloon Cactus
  • Prickly Pear Cactus
  • Mammilaria
  • Matucana 
  • Leuchtenbergia
  • Christmas Cactus

Some of the yellow flowers from these cacti will be insignificant, but you can also get some cacti that will produce some of the most stunning flowers. Many of them will have long-lasting flowers, which we will cover here, and we will also cover how to care for each of them. 

California Barrel Cactus

The California barrel cactus bears a bright yellow flower toward the side that faces the sun the most. We usually see it bloom from April to June. Their color will range and you may see a yellow flower, but you could see a white, orange or red flower as well. Those colors are more rare. The yellow petals on the California barrel cactus will display a more reddish color closer to the base. 

Yellow is the most common color in this cactus. The flower buds of this cactus are edible, and the Cahuilla tribe would roast the flower buds for food. Typically, you would harvest the buds during the early to midsummer. To harvest the fruits, you will need to wait from late November until March.

If you’d like to learn where it grows naturally, check out the California and Arizona deserts. The larger specimens will be located in the Mojave Desert of southern California. You might also check out the Discovery Trail in Lost Dutchman State Park. 

Golden Barrel Cactus

Cactus experts classify this cactus as a slow grower and to maximize its growth, you must give it a minimum of six hours of sunlight per day. While it will grow quickly in the early stages, it starts to slow down later. From late spring to midsummer, it will produce a bright yellow flower if it receives enough sunlight and has fully matured. 

You most likely won’t see the flower if you keep it indoors since this limits its sunlight. Most plant lovers, however, don’t grow the Golden barrel cactus for its flowers. Instead, they mostly want it for the foliage and the vibe that it adds to an atmosphere. 

Along with the blooms being yellow, the cactus itself may become yellow, which is somewhat unusual for many cactuses. They will rarely produce a yellow flower and have a yellow body at the same time. You can find this cactus in the Sierra Madre Forests and the Mexican Drylands. 

Balloon Cactus

Brilliant yellow flowers would describe the blossoms of the Balloon cactus. Along with yellow blossoms, it has pale yellow spines as well. Some have talked about the Balloon cactus as having a silky yellow-lemon flower. The flowers will appear in the spring and summer seasons. In some cases, you may see them bloom straight into autumn.

We would consider the Balloon cactus an indoor friendly cactus, and once the cactus wants to reproduce, it will flower at the top. The flowers may reach up to 2.2 inches long, and the diameter is equal to their length. You will most commonly see it blossom in the summer season.

In fact, rather than coming from North America, this cactus is native to South Brazil. Many of them don’t like direct sunlight. Eventually, this cactus will start to clump, so you will want to plant it in a container that will allow it the room to spread out.  

Prickly Pear Cactus

The flowers on the prickly pear cactus will reach a diameter of 2 to 3 inches. In some cases, you will see a red center with a yellow flower. The prickly pear cactus blooms from May to July. The prickly pear cactus is a flat cactus covered in needle-like spines. 

Large and bright yellow flowers come before the cactus bears reddish-pink fruit. Speaking from personal experience, it tastes delicious! Many love it for its fruit, but they fear it for its unforgiving spines. You don’t want to get pricked with this bad boy. The flowers may be yellow, but they could be red or purple as well. 

The blooms on this cactus species are big and beautiful and vibrant. You can find different species of it in a variety of locations that include Texas, New Mexico, Indiana, Florida, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Montana.    

In some cases, they have poetically called it the “Yellow Rose of Texas Cactus,” which you can find throughout the Lone Star State. This beautiful Spanish rose has seen use in traditional Mexican cuisine, and they occasionally juice the fruit for drinks. 

In case you’d like to see the life cycle of the prickly pear cactus’s flower, you can check a short video of it out here:


Known in Ukraine as the Bakerburg Mammillaria, this plant has brown spines and produces a large yellow to yellow-orange flower. You may notice variations in the size and color of the flowers, depending on the cactus. Mammillaria grows in the desert regions of Central America, such as in Mexico. 

The flowers appear in the spring of the year, and they have a bright yellow appearance. This is a slow-growing cactus, and it usually develops into a cluster of stems. You may want to put the cactus in a location with full sun for the best results. 

The plant has excellent pest resistance and has become a favorite among cactus collectors for its beauty. Most of the flowers on this plant will be of a medium size as far as flowers compare to the others. The outside part of the flower will have a ring of petals that surround the flower itself. Usually, you will see two to three flowers on it.

You might consider this cactus similar to the Rosy Pincushion Cactus. Mammillaria flowers will usually last for about one week, and the buds that they produce will start in the previous season and go through the winter. They blossom over the summer months. To get a mammillaria to produce its flowers, you will want to add fertilizer over its growing season. 


The flowers on the Matucana will appear as either red, pink, orange or yellow. You will see the flower form on the cactus once it matures at two to three years old. I would call the flowers on the Matucana as some of the most beautiful cactus flowers. When golden yellow, they will have blood-red apices. 

The one thing to remember with the Matucana is that it doesn’t flower often but watch out for once it starts. They form at night and will last for two to four days. Most often, the flowers on this cactus won’t be yellow. In most cases, the Matucana blossoms will be a red flower, but they can be yellow, pink or orange. 

Usually, the Matucana will bloom in the late spring to the summer season. When we talk about Matucana flowers, we refer to 20 species of cactus that are only natively known to the regions of Peru. In fact, this cactus takes its name after the Andean city of Matucana. For the flowers to grow on this plant, they require plenty of sunlight. When the cactus doesn’t flower, it most often happens because of it being etiolated or needing more sunlight. 

Given the right conditions, they can flower throughout the year. 


The Leuchtenbergia requires four years before it starts to flower, but it most often produces pale yellow flowers shaped like a funnel up to 2.4 inches in diameter. Between the spring and fall season, it usually produces one or more yellow flowers. 

Another one of the benefits of this cactus flower? The fragrance is delightful! The strong scent of it can fill a greenhouse once the sunlight starts to fall on it. Some have even described the scent as an expensive perfume. 

Every once in a while, this cactus will bloom with pink highlights around the edges of the flower, but this only happens rarely. The plant itself doesn’t look particularly attractive, but once it flowers, it looks incredible. We would, however, say that this is one of your more unique-looking cactuses. It looks unlike any of the other cacti that you have ever seen. 

If we had to compare it to a similar plant, we would say that it bears some resemblances to the Agave with its long and tubercle limbs. It can grow up to 70 cm tall. 

The Leuchtenbergia, while it’s a German name, is native to North-Central Mexico. For example, you can find it in the regions of Chihuahua and San Luis Potosi. You do need a good amount of sunlight to see it flower. It prefers direct sunlight even though you could plant it in partial sunlight. 

You could take the Leuchtenbergia to a room with full sun, leave it and it would prosper in that environment. While it does like direct sunlight, keep a close eye on it since all cacti—believe it or not—can get too much sunlight. Watch for disparate spots on the cactus and change its environment if seeing too much sun. 

In case you’d like to see the Leuchtenbergia and its flowering out in the wild, check out the video here. It includes some great information as well as shows the yellow flower on it:

Christmas Cactus

The yellow flower on a Christmas cactus is known as a zygocactus, and they show you a very delicate yellow-green color. This plant was native to the jungles in South America, and it produces its yellow flowers once per year. Unlike the other cacti on this list, it doesn’t bloom in the spring, summer or fall. 

In fact, this cactus produces its flowers in the winter toward the end of the year. This was probably where they came up with the name for a Christmas cactus since it produces its flowers close to Christmas. As you could imagine, a Thanksgiving cactus will bloom closer to Thanksgiving and the same goes for an Easter cactus. 

This isn’t a hard rule—obviously, nature has no rules like that—and it can come in the middle of winter as well. The flowers on this cactus will usually last from six to nine days. After the plant flowers, some plant experts will pinch off parts of it to give it a more unique appearance. In the right conditions, the flowers may last for seven to eight weeks, but keep in mind that this is fairly rare. 

What Does It Mean When Your Cactus Flowers?

The flowering of a cactus takes on different meanings for everyone. Some see its flowering as a symbol of endurance in hard places such as on a thorny cactus. Others would describe the meaning of this as a symbol of great love since people often pour their hearts into the daily waterings and care of it. The plant becomes their baby as they watch it grow.

What it means for each individual will differ, and there’s no right or wrong answer for this question.  

What Should I Do After My Cactus Blooms?

Once the bloom has ended, you want to remove the dead blossoms as soon as possible. You do this because it can promote extra blooms on the cactus. At the same time, it encourages the growth of your cactus. In some cases, you may not need to do this since it will drop off the plant automatically, but it depends on the species. You may want to check for seeds before removing the flowers. 

What Time Do Most Cacti Bloom?

Most cacti will bloom in the early hours of the morning, and some species may keep their flower open all day, depending on the sun and its intensity. In some cases, the flower starts to fade around the middle part of the day. In terms of the time of the year that they bloom, most cacti will produce their flowers in the spring and summer seasons. 

How to Care for Cactuses with Yellow Flowers

To begin with, you will want to plant your cactus in soil with good drainage. Most cacti grow in the deserts, and they aren’t used to the soil holding in the water. Planting them in soil without good drainage will lead to root rot. 

To ensure that your cactus has the best chance at producing yellow flowers, you will want to plant them on the southern side of the home if possible. This gives them the most sunlight. 

Expert Tip: Always consider the species and how much sunlight it likes to receive to plant it in the right location. 

Whenever handling cacti, you will want to put on heavy leather gloves to keep the spines from penetrating the skin. This may sound like a simple non-issue, but in cases where people didn’t spot and remove them, it led to granuloma formation and inflammation. To put it simply, they can become infected in some cases leading to further complications.

Cactus: 5 Things That Can Delay Its Blooming

Let’s say that you want to see the flowers forming on your cactus, but you worry that you made a mistake somewhere that stopped it from blooming. You have five things that can interfere with your cactus getting the yellow, red, orange, pink and white blooms on it. 

#1: Maturity

Most cacti don’t bloom until they reach full maturity, which will depend on the species. Some cacti like the ones that we listed above will start to show flowers in two to five years. You do have some, however, like the Saguaro cactus, which takes between 20 to 25 years to start showing blooms on it. If you can’t wait to see a cactus bloom, then buy one that has already bloomed in the past. 

This cuts out the wait time, and we would especially recommend that beginners do this since it gets them started with it to see the bloomings of their cactus. 

#2: Species

Some species of cactus don’t bloom frequently. While this can seem disconcerting to the beginner, it makes it all the more special to the cactus experts. Many times when these cactuses do bloom, they produce some of the most brilliant flowers. Moon cactus will rarely produce a flower, but when they do, they produce a vibrant yellow color that stands out among the best of them. You must care for them properly to see the results of it, however.

#3: Temperatures

While cactuses prosper in the heat, they won’t flower if you keep them in the hottest environment all year-round. Even in the desert, they have a season where it isn’t as hot. Striking the balance poses a challenge because of how it can’t be too hot, and you don’t want it too cold either. They need a good balance of hot and cold to form buds on the plant. 

In the winter season, you might avoid keeping the room too hot since this can become a hindrance.

#4: Sunlight

With sunlight, you usually want your cactus to have no less than four hours of sunlight and no more than 10 hours of sunlight. This ensures that you meet the required limits for exposure without the sunlight disturbing the cactus before it has the chance to flower. The sunlight helps it to produce energy for photosynthesis, which is essential to all plants.  

#5: Right Amount of Water

Cactus do need some water because a lack of watering can prevent them from producing flowers. Without a steady supply of water, it won’t receive enough energy to support its budding activity. If you’ve ever watched plants before, once the water starts to go dry, the flowers will begin to wilt or droop. 

Remember to keep the soil mixture correct as well because cactus require soil with good drainage to where it doesn’t hold the water in for too long. Too long, and it will leave the cactus exposed to dangers like root rot, pests and other diseases that can damage or kill your plant. 

Final Thoughts

If you wanted a cactus with yellow flowers, hopefully, we highlighted some choices of species as well as how to take care of them and what could be going wrong if doesn’t flower. How much a cactus flowers will depend on the species and the color of the flower will depend on the species as well. Many cacti species will produce a yellow flower more commonly, but you have a couple where it becomes rare for them to produce yellow flowers. 

In case you’d like to learn more about cacti, we’d recommend checking out the book, “Cacti and Succulents Handbook.” Everyone from the novice to the experienced gardener can learn something from this book, and it includes detailed care instructions for each species of cactus. 

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about cactus flowers, check out my article here on red cactus flowers.

Nature’s Comedies: The Corn Dog Plant…

You saw the meme online where someone puts ketchup and mustard on this plant that looks like a corn dog and gives it a negative review like, “Worst corn dog I ever ate!” Going down by the lake, I’ve always loved this plant because it adds to the beauty of nature. I wouldn’t, however, want to eat this as a corn dog for my next meal. What is that plant called?

The plant that looks like a corn dog is called the cattail, and you can spot them easily because they have the characteristic corn dog appearance. While the female brown part is soft like cotton or dandelion fuzz, the other part is a male cylinder-like flowering spike.

Can You Eat Cattails?

We wouldn’t try to eat a cattail in the same way that you would eat a corn dog. It won’t taste good. Still, several parts of the cattail can be eaten. Did you know that cattails produce more starch per acre than potatoes? With potatoes or yams, you can only eat the root, but at different stages in the development of the cattail, you can eat edible parts of it—in other words, this wild corn dog is edible!

Before you eat, check to see that it comes from a clean water source and doesn’t have pesticides on it.

The edible parts of the cattail include:

  • Roots
  • Catkins
  • Cattail pollin
  • Shoots and stalks

Cattail Roots

Harvestable throughout the year, we would say that the cattail roots will test best in the autumn and winter season. Preparing a cattail root, you will clean the roots and trim away at the smaller roots. This leaves you with a large rhizome. Grill, bake or boil the cattail until it becomes tender. You can also use the cattail roots to make flour. This wild corn dog is probably more useful than a real corn dog—it’s also healthier.

Check out the video below to see how to harvest cattail roots for eating:


This portion of the cattail will taste the best during the spring season when still green. Believe it or not, you can eat cattail like how you would corn on the cob. Boil the catkins until you have heated them up and serve them with salt, pepper and butter.

Cattail Pollen

You probably wonder how you can cook cattail pollen. In fact, you wait until the later part of June to begin the pollen harvest, and what you will turn it into is a type of flour substitute. It has antiseptic properties and will help with providing skincare, preventing anemia and providing increased energy.

As you bend the cattails off into the bag, you will shake off the pollen. Don’t be surprised at how fast you collect pollen. You can quickly come up with several pounds of it without trying, and truth is, it makes a mean pancake! Check out this awesome recipe if interested!

Shoots and Stalks

The last edible part of our plant that looks like a corn dog is the shoots and stalks. During the spring season, you can harvest the stalks, which are at the white part of the cattail near the root, and the new shoots coming up. You clean them up, slather them in peanut butter, and they taste like asparagus. We would advise that you eat them fresh for the best flavor.

You can learn more about how to eat the shoots and stalks here:

Cattails: Easily Recognized Because They Look Like Corn Dogs

Once you know a cattail, you never forget it because of its distinct appearance. This has become a popular water garden plant because of how easily you can recognize it. The common cattail can grow up to 8 feet, and you can find it pervasively throughout North America. It’s one of the easiest plants to recognize once you know it. The Typha angustifolia is a smaller version that only reaches 4 feet in height.

If you were to use cattails in a water garden, we would recommend that you only use them by themselves. The biggest issue with combining them with papyrus or rushes is how the cattail will lose their geometric seed heads.

We would call the cattail perhaps one of the most useful plants out there. In case you’re interested in the stories behind it, we would recommend the book “Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine.”

You will learn some fascinating tidbits about the cattail and other plants like the prickly pear cactus.

How to Plant Cattails in a Water Garden

Cattails look especially good in a water garden when you place them in a classical fountain or contemporary setting. The strong verticals when put up alongside the horizontal walls will look fantastic. You might place them near a stucco wall or a plaster wall. Don’t plant them in a shady location because they like the sun. You want either a partially shady or a full-sun area to plant them.

You usually want to plant them in the early autumn shortly after a rainfall. Contrary to what you might believe, plant them about 3 feet apart. Over the years, the cattails will self propagate themselves and fill out your garden space.

Cattails Wild Corn Dogs: What to Know

Previously, we spoke about how you can find male and female flowers growing on the same plant. This happens because of how cattails are monoecious. That means that male and female flowers grow on it. The two different flowers will often develop on different parts of the plant. The male flower forms at the top known as a tassel. On the other hand, the female flowers will develop on the sides.

You can see the flowers pop up in the summer season.

Human History of Cattails

Throughout human history, cattails have proven a useful companion in the many things that they could be used for. Humans used them as a food source among many other things. In the northeastern part of North America, Native Americans used them as siding sewn into their homes called wigwams. Especially in places where the wetlands dominated, you would see this used.

Many of the early Europeans would comment on how dry, weatherproof and comfortable the Native American homes were.

Humans also used cattails for medicines. For example, burnt cattail leaves could be used to make a sap that would treat wounds. At the same time, it stopped them from getting infected at a time when wounds were a big killer. They also used the sap from cattails to treat toothaches, whooping cough and sprains.

Even more fascinating, nature’s corn dog was used to bundle together, and the Native Americans would sculpt duck decoys out of them. Would you like to learn about some of the other wacky things that you can do with plants? Learn what plants like coffee grounds here.

Breaking Open a Cattail: Corn Dog Chaos!

Cattails have one fascinating thing about them that might surprise you. When you break them open, it looks like straight smoke or millions upon millions of bubbles. Do you wonder how something so big could come out of that tiny plant? Check out this video to see more about what I mean. It’s a great video that’s somehow satisfying to watch. Dandelions can’t compare to this one. This guy gives the impression that he has given the field a bubble bath:

Other Names for Cattails

  • Corn dog grass
  • Catkins
  • Bullrush (British)
  • Reedmace (also British)
  • Bulrush (Canadian)
  • Raupo (New Zealand)
  • Punks (Australia)
  • Ament

Are Cattails Poisonous?

As long as you can find cattails out in the wilderness, you don’t have to worry too much about starving since many parts of the plant are edible. Beware, however, of the poison iris, which looks similar to the cattail. You don’t want to mistake this one. While they only cause abdominal pain and a burning sensation in the mouth, it’s better not to make a mistake with it.

The general rule of thumb to distinguish the poison iris from the cattail is that a cattail looks like a corn dog near the top or a cigar head. The poison iris doesn’t have this. Unless you know 100-percent for certain that it is safe, never ingest a plant that you don’t know. The results could be deadly.

How Animals Use Cattails

Redwing blackbirds, waterfowl, muskrats, raccoons, deer, frogs and turtles all nest in or shelter among cattails. Birds will even use cattail fluff to make their nests. Like humans, they will use it as a food source. Beavers, muskrats and certain fish species are known to use them for food.

In our environment, cattails serve an important role where they prevent erosion, and at the same time, new research has even shown how cattails remove pollution from our waters with their surrounding roots. Their roots have microorganisms that break down organic materials.

You can find over 30 species of cattails out in nature. They mainly occur in the cold and temperate regions of the Northern and Southern hemispheres.


The cattails would be the most distinguishable plant around because of how it looks like a corn dog. No other plant in nature has this appearance that we’re aware of. At the least, it doesn’t have too much for similarities. Even with the poison iris, as long as you look for the corn dog on top, you should be fine. We think of this as one of the great plants to know about because of its many uses even today.

Cattails are a utilitarian plant that is semi-aquatic, and they form dense stands in what is often wet and mucky soils. In all the cases where I saw cattails, it was usually in a wet and mucky type of soil.

What Animals Eat Irises? The Answer Here…

Irises grow easily enough, but you may encounter one problem with them—as pretty as you find them, animals love to eat them. How can you stop animals from eating your irises? First, understand the types of animals that eat irises.

What animals eat irises? Rabbits, moles, insects, voles, deer and ground squirrels all eat irises from time to time. Occasional other animals will sometimes eat irises, depending on the circumstances. Pay attention to what part was eaten to know what animal ate it.

Follow along as we learn more about the creatures that eat irises and how to tell which ones ate it.

Why Do Animals Eat Irises?

The smell of irises, as much as humans like them, animals see them as a source of food. With many animals having stronger noses than humans, the smell of an iris brings the creatures straight to your garden. Also, depending on the animal, different animals will eat different parts of the iris. We will cover what each of the animals tend to eat to spot which animal you’re dealing with.

Culprit #1: Rabbits

Because of the height of a rabbit, they can’t eat the leaves of the iris. However, rabbits will eat almost any part of the iris that they can munch on. Not only do rabbits eat irises, but they eat many of the other things grown in a garden. Especially in the more rural parts of the country, rabbits become a huge problem for gardeners.

Irises, however, are toxic to rabbits. The bulbs, stalks and leaves can all make a rabbit sick. In some cases, this can cause them to vomit what they ate into your garden.

Culprit #2: Moles

In particular, moles will feed off the roots of the iris. They also like to feed off the bulbs of the iris. Moles shouldn’t be thought of as a primary feeder of the irises, however, because they only do this in exceptional circumstances where they’re very hungry. Usually, moles feed off of insects, grubs and earthworms.

Interesting fact: Moles can eat up to 50 pounds of their prey in a year. Meanwhile, they only weigh 5 ounces.

Culprit #3: Insects

Several insects feed off of irises, and they include:

  • Caterpillars
  • Whiteflies
  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Aphids
  • Spider mites

In particular, the iris borer caterpillar has a fierce reputation as causing more damage to irises than all the other insects combined. It feeds on the rhizomes. You can bait these creatures easily enough or use insecticides to control them.

Culprit #4: Voles

Many times, voles use tunnels that moles already dug, but they can dig their own tunnels as well. You can spot a vole feeding on irises because they tend to leave the flower fan part alone. Voles prefer to feed on the seeds and seedlings of the iris.

Voles like to feed on irises, but they eat other flowers more, such as tulips, crocus, hyacinth, scilla and allium. While voles burrow underground, they travel along pathways above ground, and they eat all foliage in their path along the way, including irises.

You can eliminate voles through putting down hot sauce and other spicy things near their holes and burrows around the irises. Humans are the only creatures on the planet who eat spicy food, which will repel the voles. Voles may eat irises, but they also tend to go for the other flowers more.

Culprit #5: Deer

Deer don’t commonly eat irises, but when other food sources become scarce, they may take to eating your irises instead. In fact, deer will eat most things in the garden when hungry enough. They have a fearsome reputation among well-meaning gardeners. You can spot deer damage because their eating tends to look jagged. They also like to eat the flower part of the iris, so pay special attention to this.

Usually, deer avoid irises because they don’t like the smell, but in starving circumstances, they will eat them. Young deer, especially, will try most anything, including your beloved irises.

Culprit #6: Ground Squirrels

The little devils love to eat almost anything. In fact, I wrote about regular squirrels eating roses here. Ground squirrels don’t commonly go after irises, but it has been known to happen from time to time. In some cases, they may dig up your iris bulbs thinking of it as another plant.

How to Prevent Animals from Going after Your Irises

We have covered the animals that most commonly go after irises pretty well, but now we need to look at how to stop animals from doing this. We gave a few tips and tricks with each of the individual animals, but one of the ways that you can protect your irises is by adding a layer of gravel.

Add a sharp layer of gravel or grit beneath and above the surface of your irises. This deters most animals because they don’t like to dig in sharp debris. They will find an easier target unless starving. In most cases, this will be enough to deter most animals.

With insects, don’t forget to use insecticides. You can either buy insecticide (an environmentally friendly choice here) or make it yourself.


Hopefully, this helps you to identify some of the animals that might target your iris plants. We also gave you specific information on how to spot the type of animal that is targeting your irises.

When in doubt, you can also use trail cameras (such as the Usogood Trail Camera 20MP 1080P) to catch the culprit in the act and figure out the most appropriate course of action.