The 10 Cactus with Stunning White Flowers (With Photos)
Are you looking for cactus with white blossoms for a dainty touch on your porch? This compilation of 10 cacti with stunning white flowers will give character to your garden in spring and summer.
The 10 cacti with stunning white flowers are:
- Golden torch cactus (Trichocereus ‘spachiana’),
- Giant saguaro cactus (Carnegia ‘gigantea’).
- Easter lily cactus (Echinopsis ‘oxygona’),
- Gymnocalycium ‘mesopotamicum’,
- Queen of the night (Epiphyllum ‘oxypetalum’),
- Argentine giant (Echinopsis ‘candicans’),
- Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera ‘truncata’),
- Hooker’s orchid cactus (Epiphyllum ‘hookeri’),
- Apple cactus (Cereus ‘hildmannianus’), and
- White-fleshed pitaya (Selenicereus ‘undatus’).
One of the many interesting cacti characteristics that fascinate people is their classy ephemeral blossoms. Sometimes, they are mistaken as fake flowers due to their delicate and idyllic appearance. Take a look at these cacti that show off real beautiful white flowers.
1- Golden Torch Cactus (Trichocereus ‘Spachiana’)
Golden torch cactus is a night-flowering cactus, but the blossom remains open until the following night. The bloom measures 15 cm in diameter bore in an upright stem about 20 cm long. It takes 15-20 years before the cactus shows its first flower buds and produces more flowers it gets older.
The buds emerge near the tip of the stem and appear like brown hairy bumps with elliptical tips. Although the golden torch is a summer grower columnar cactus, its flower buds start to sprout in the late spring. A beautiful display of large white flowers will decorate your garden in the mid-summer.
It takes 15-20 years before the cactus shows its first flower buds. The older the cactus, the more clusters of flowers it can produce. Grow your golden torch cactus in the front yard or on a decorative pot in the corner of your balcony, and enjoy the fragrance when it blooms.
2- Giant Saguaro Cactus (Carnegia ‘Gigantea’)
The Carnegia ‘gigantea’ or Giant saguaro cactus white flowers are typically found near the apex of the cactus’ stems and arms. About 8 cm large white blooms with golden centers open at night and fade the next day.
Each spring, the giant saguaro cactus displays one of the Sonoran Desert’s most gorgeous flowers. Bats pollinate the blooms at night, and bees and birds feast on the nectar during the day. The floral display attracts pollinators easily because of their pungent odour, similar to overripe melons.
When saguaros reach a height of around 7 feet, or once they are 30-65 years old, they enter reproductive age and produce their first flowers. The flowering of the saguaro begins in mid-April and peaks in late May through early June.
Winter rain, longer days and cool temperatures of spring, influence saguaro flowering. Saguaros are not poisonous to humans and animals but can be harmful because of their sharp solid spines. Saguaro produces its first flowers when it reaches the height of around 7 ft or the age of 30-65 years old.
3- Easter Lily Cactus (Echinopsis ‘Oxygona’)
The Easter lily cactus is cultivated primarily for its large, scented white flowers which are around 13 cm wide. They only last a day- bloom at night and close at daytime. If grown from seed, this cactus may take 4-5 years before it starts to bloom.
Easter lily starts to bloom in the spring, around Easter; hence the given name. The funnel-shaped, 13 cm wide flowers only last a day or two before fading away. However, given the best growing conditions, the plant will bloom twice or thrice until summer and fall.
If grown from seed, this echinopsis species may take up to 4–5 years before it starts to bloom. You will know if the plant is ready to set flowers if fuzzy bumps protrude from the areoles and begin to develop flower stalks and buds. Although non-toxic, it is best to keep away from pets and kids, as the spines are painful to touch.
4- Gymnocalycium ‘Mesopotamicum’
In summer, Gymnocalycium mesopotamicum produces pure white flowers, about 5.5 cm long and 6.5 cm across. If planted from seed, the plant starts to bloom as early as three years. When mature, plants are likely to display a cluster of flowers.
Flowers are diurnal, meaning they open only in the day and close at sundown. They usually last 2 to 5 days and develop into fruit if successfully pollinated. Feed with a phosphorus-rich fertilizer in the late spring to enjoy a burst of white blooms. This cactus species is not poisonous.
5- Queen of The Night (Epiphyllum ‘Oxypetalum’)
An Epiphyllum oxypetalum is a night-blooming cactus that produces large, sweet-smelling white flowers between May and July. It blooms when it reaches maturity at 6 years. It is well-known because of its unique blooming characteristic that opens only during midnight and closes at first light.
The 13 cm wide flowers are set in a stalk approximately 28 cm long, which hangs from their waxy, thin stem. Queen of the night blooms once or twice every year. Flowers wilt quickly and last up to 6 hours after blooming. The plant will only flower when it reaches maturity at 6 years.
I usually found the queen of night grown in hanging baskets indoors near the south-facing window. Others grow them on trellis outdoors near the window so they can watch the cactus flower at night. This cactus is a non-toxic species.
6- Argentine Giant (Echinopsis ‘Candicans’)
Another cactus with large white flowers is the Argentine giant. Large circular floral displays about 25 cm long and 20 cm diameter bloom open in the cool springtime night. Its first blossoms appear when it reaches the maturity age of 15-20 years.
Those flowers produce a sweet-smelling and attract nighttime smell that attracts pollinators. Stunning, funnel-shaped flowers are short-lived, blooming only for a day or two, and then wither away. The first blossoms appear when the specimen reaches maturity age of 15 – 20 years.
Clusters of flowers may develop into fruits after pollination. This species is suitable for landscape gardens because it tends to bend on the ground. Grow them in large containers and display them in your front yard to bask in the springtime sun and show off their dainty blooms.
7- Thanksgiving Cactus (Schlumbergera Truncata)
The Thanksgiving cactus usually blooms in November. If grown from seed, it takes about 7-8 years before its first flowers appear. They look like tubes of 7-8 cm long with 5-6 cm wide petals. There are several hues of Thanksgiving cactus flowers, but the white variety stands out as it compliments the bright green stems.
They are formed at the tips or where the stem segments meet. They appear like a 7-8 cm long tube, where 5-6 cm wide petals are arranged in spirals on numerous layers. Species growing in regions near the northern Hemisphere bloom from November through February.
Some gardeners find this cactus hard to bloom. But the key to forming buds, this species requires 12 to 14 hours of complete darkness and cold night temperatures of 60 to 65F for a month. You can return to regular lighting after seeing buds, but keep the temperatures cool.
Seed grown thanksgiving cactus takes 7-8 years before it starts blooming. This species is commonly grown indoors in hanging baskets or tall containers to show off the beautiful drooping stem and flowers. It belongs to the list of safe houseplants because it is non-toxic to animals and humans.
8- Hooker’s Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum ‘Hookeri’)
Epiphyllum ‘hookeri’ is an epiphytic cactus that grows in tropical forests and displays sweet-smelling white blooms that are around 23 cm long and 20 cm wide. It takes 8-10 years before the cactus can produce its first nocturnal bloom.
When the cactus is actively growing during the hot summer months, thin-petaled white flowers bloom. They are funnel-like but drooping, open only at night, and then fade away the next day. The blooms do not cluster but grow solitary along the plant’s thin stem.
Hooker’s orchid cactus flower rarely develops into fruits, so the fastest propagation method is through stem cuttings. Keep your cactus moist and provide ample indirect sunlight to enjoy the fragrant blooms mid-summer. The stem is non-toxic with skin contact, but it can cause vomiting when ingested in large quantities.
9- Apple Cactus (Cereus ‘Hildmannianus’)
The Apple cactus is a columnar species with white flowers, trumpet-like 15 cm broad in an elongated upright 25 cm long floral stalk. They bloom at night, displaying a streak of white glow that attracts nocturnal pollinators like bats. After any warm-season rain, the plant normally buds and blossoms two weeks later.
Cereus hildmannianus usually blooms in spring but mostly in summer. Solitary flower buds emerge on each areole and grow rapidly like snakes coming out from the stem. An explosion of blooms occurs two weeks after the formation of buds, almost all simultaneously open at night.
By midmorning the next day, all flowers had closed and drooped. This is a survival strategy of most Cereus species to conserve water. Red, apple-like fruits form not long after flower pollination, and each fruit can contain hundreds of tiny black seeds.
Only mature specimens aging 10-15 years can develop flowers and fruits a few times every year. Sufficient moisture and temperature trigger buds formation. However, if kept dry during their growing season, buds may fall off.
10 – White-fleshed pitaya (Selenicereus ‘Undatus’)
The large, stunning white flowers of Selenicereus undatus appear in temperate regions later in spring or summer. They are usually 25 cm long and 17 cm wide, very aromatic night bloomers that typically only last one night. Each year, this species can have 4-5 flowering cycles in tropical areas.
Individual buds with outer green sepals form on the areoles and grow 25 cm long stalks. After 2 to 3 weeks, the buds burst open and disperse a fruity scent. This attracts nocturnal birds and insects to pollinate the flower, which will develop into a red or yellow elliptical fruit.
When the flower blooms at night, it faces the moon’s direction. Hence, gardeners often call this species moonlight cactus. It takes 5-10 years to mature and bear flowers and fruits. The stem of this species is commonly used as a rootstock for grafting other cactus species.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Cacti Flowers Poisonous?
Almost all cacti flowers are non-toxic. In fact, the budding flowers of a Nopal or prickly pear cactus are edible. However, pollen-sensitive individuals should keep a distance from large cactus flowers as they may be allergic to them.
Are Cacti Flowers Real?
All cacti species grow beautiful and unique real flowers. One can tell that the cactus has real flowers when it fades and wilts after a day or two. Daytime bloomers close at night, while nighttime bloomers close during the day. Cactus flower also grows from a stalk that emerges from the areoles.
So if you have a cactus plant with flowers blooming all day and all night, then that is not a real cactus flower. A genuine cactus flower never blooms that way. Store owners may glue that artificial flower to market their plants quickly and boost sales.
Summary On Cactus With Stunning White Flowers
Cacti with beautiful large white flowers include Golden torch cactus (Trichocereus ‘spachiana’), Giant saguaro cactus (Carnegia ‘gigantea’), Gymnocalycium ‘mesopotamicum’, Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera ‘truncata’), and Queen of the night (Epiphyllum ‘oxypetalum’).
The Argentine giant (Echinopsis ‘candicans’), Hooker’s orchid cactus (Epiphyllum ‘hookeri’), Apple cactus (Cereus ‘hildmannianus’), Easter lily cactus (Echinopsis ‘oxygona’), and White-fleshed pitaya (Selenicereus ‘undatus’) have palm-sized white flowers too that blooms only at night.
Cacti flowers are not toxic but can cause an allergic reaction in individuals who have pollen allergies. Real cactus flowers are ephemeral and don’t last longer than one week.
- “Echinopsis Candicans,” Arizona State University
- “Cereus Hilmannianus,” National Parks Singapore
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