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

Beavertail prickly pear (Opuntia basilaris)

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 it 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?


Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

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