A Fascinating Hobby

Growing cacti and succulents can be an all-encompassing hobby!  ‘Cactophiles’ find so many aspects to interest them:

  • collecting
  • study
  • history
  • literature
  • showing
  • seed-raising
  • photography
  • philately

– the list seems endless. The only common thread is that special plant – the succulent. Many people start growing plants by being given a plant or an offset (side-shoot) and not knowing what to do with it!  A quick look on the internet will give quick accessed advice.  Once your newly acquired plant starts to grow you may be bitten by a most fascinating hobby. 

The below sections list some species you might like to grow. Unfortunately, most garden centres who sell cacti and succulents do not have their plants labelled, so it is always best to buy from a specialist nursery or plant sale.

Flowers and Spines

A selection of cacti flowers

You may become fascinated with “supination” – the patterns each species forms is quite unique!  Strong, sharp pointed spines are protection against being eaten. Many species, however, use spines to reflect light and create a micro humid environment beneath to conserve moisture. Nevertheless, flowering plants always seem to be the most popular so seek out plants that will reward you with flowers even on young plants.  These species will flower after only a few years from seed, with many and very spectacular flowers:

Cacti Spines


If the attraction is leaf form and shape, an idea is to start the hobby with species of the succulents. Whilst they do flower, they are most appreciated for their leaf surfaces and markings.

All of these are species that will grow happily on a sunny windowsill, in a conservatory or in a greenhouse.  

Larger Plants

Some of the easier large plant types, are not really suited to a windowsill as they are faster-growing. Examples are:

Be careful with the latter as the spines are barbed and can irritate and be painful.  Fortunately, no cactus spines are poisonous.

The diversity of the different species is part of the attraction of this most fascinating hobby. Leaves