Cactus backlit (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

A Dozen Reasons I Love Cacti

It's a natural progression: As we gain appreciation for the lines, textures and shapes of succulents, we arrive at those that exhibit elegant simplicity—never mind that they have spines (in fact, sometimes because they do).

Note I’m not talking about common prickly pear—the plant most of us have bad childhood memories of. (Ow!) There are SO many other kinds of cacti. Why do I love them? These photos illustrate a dozen reasons.

Cacti in square pot

In a word: symmetry. Mammillarias in particular have it nailed.

Poodle opuntia

They offer astonishing textures. I mean, c'mon, fur? Opuntia sp.

Echinocactus rubrispinus

Endearingly, cacti don't take themselves too seriously. Echinocactus pectinatus rubrispinus.

Cactus snowflakes

Some think they're snowflakes.

Cactus flower looks like waterlily

Others, waterlilies (Trichocereus hybrids at left)

Mammillaria elongata crest

And brains (Mammillaria elongata crest)....

Succulent looks like bird

Or birds. (Cleistocactus strausii)

Cactus flowers look like roses

A few are in touch with their feminine side (roses at left, opuntia at right).


Others, not so much.

Mammillaria fragilis

More than a few are darn cute. Each of these thimble cacti is less than an inch in diameter.

But here's what I like best about cacti: How they glow when haloed by the sun. The spinier the better.

Debra Lee Baldwin portrait

This portrait shows me surrounded by columnar cacti with spines that glow yellow-orange in the late-afternoon sun. Yep, I wore turquoise on purpose.Mini Succulent High Desert Garden video

See how I assembled this cactus container garden 


Related info on this site:


(c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Cactus: Details, Photos and Varieties

Cactus Care, Gallery and Names All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. They’re not for everyone, but once hooked (forgive the pun) you’ll collect more and more. See All Succulent Types Aeonium Agaves Aloes Cactus Crassula Echeveria Euphorbias Ice Plants Kalanchoe Portulacaria Senecio About Cacti Native to deserts and dry regions of…

Enjoyed this article? Please share it!


  1. Claudia on July 25, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Debra, this was a wonderful blog post. I didn’t know anything about these beauties! Thanks for sharing, as always.

  2. cynthia on August 18, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    We are in Placer County and garden on decomposed granite with a shallow topsoil ….on a hill… problem with drainage. Harder to keep moisture in the soil! We have lately experienced VERY HIGH TEMPS 108-112. Greenhouse was at 119 with everything open… cactus in there didn’t seem to mind. But out in East facing cacti-succulent garden is really suffering with sunburn. Best I can do is cut large palm fans and lay over to block intense sun heat. That seems to be helping. The shade cloth seems to hold in the heat like a cooker. …Survivor mode prevails!!

  3. Cherry Llema Talde on August 24, 2020 at 9:03 am

    Thank you for sharing your expertise, Miss Debra. As I was reading the content, now I truly understand the reason why a single cactus could bring so much joy –how much more if you are collecting a lot of them. 🌵❤️

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on August 24, 2020 at 10:07 am

      Thank you, Cherry! I’m so glad I managed to convey a collector’s pleasure.

  4. Todd Victor on February 25, 2021 at 4:27 pm


    Nice website! Good job. I am doing a video project for kids about the botanist Helia Bravo Hollis and stumbled across your site. I would love to share a couple of your images on my video with your permission. I’m particularly interested in tiny cacti. Todd

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on February 26, 2021 at 9:21 am

      Hi Todd — Certainly. Happy to help. Please credit Debra Lee Baldwin and link to my site if possible. And—if you don’t mind my mentioning it—please don’t recommend to children those “cute” cacti that have glochids (like fetchingly named bunny ears cactus, which is a horror). Opuntia microdasys.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.