I love springtime in the desert when it comes alive in shades of yellow, orange and pink.

Last week, while I was driving through a residential area nestled in the desert mountains, I could hardly keep my eyes on the road.

Everywhere I turned, there were brightly colored cactus blooming.  It’s a small miracle that I didn’t crash into the curb as I drove closer.

Even though this is my 31st spring in the desert Southwest, watching prickly cactus transform into colorful accents never ceases to amaze me.

Claret Cup Cactus

 

Strawberry Hedgehog


I like to see smaller cacti such as claret cup and strawberry hedgehog planted alongside boulders for a mix of textures.  The cactus also like the opportunity for their roots to be shaded by the boulder.

The colors of flowering cacti range from shades of orange, pink, red and yellow.

There are so many different types of flowers that it can be hard to identify them all.  But, that doesn’t stop you from enjoying their pretty flowers.


The flower petals are somewhat waxy and sturdy.  Bees flock to the open blooms.


Prickly pear cacti are particularly spectacular this time of year, and their flower color varies depending on the species.


I can hardly wait to see all the blossoms begin to open.

Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria)


I must confess that I don’t have a lot of cactus in my garden – I am more of a flowering shrub and perennial gal.  But, I do have a few cactus tucked in here and there that I have obtained over the years.

My favorite is a small pincushion cactus, which produces rings of pink flowers off and on throughout spring and summer.  The small, native bees just love the flowers.

How about you?  Do you have a favorite flowering cactus?

Did you know that up to 70 percent of water use is outdoors? That’s why we at Water – Use It Wisely love desert plants and feature them each month. Looking to add or replace a tree, shrub, succulent or cacti in your yard? Use our handy landscape plant guide to find out all you need to know — including watering requirements, sun tolerance and if it will attract wildlife to your yard. Also, be sure to read through all of our featured Plant of the Month blogs!

And if you are looking for expert tips to care for your new or existing plants, we’ve got the resources you need to help your plants thrive.


From time to time, Water – Use It Wisely features guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. Noelle Johnson is an urban horticulturist, Certified Arborist and freelance garden-writer who helps people create beautiful, low-maintenance gardens through helpful advice on her blog www.azplantlady.com. She is passionate about teaching people about the amazing desert plants that thrive in our landscapes. This blog, Cactus Flowers Color the Desert Landscape, originally appeared on April 4, 2016 and is being reprinted with permission. 

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