water conservation arizona landscape plants
Low-Water Cacti

Cacti are true icons of the desert and help give our region its character and sense of place. View selection and planting information for cacti.

Click the photo or [plant info sheet] links to get detailed information about each plant as well as photos of the plants. For a guide to understanding plant names, click here.

Common Name: Saguaro
Botanical Name: Carnegiea gigantea


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 20' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: White showy
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: late spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: very slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: columnar low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: long, gray spines
Attracts Wildlife: birds growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Consider mature size. Red fruits are enjoyed by birds.
Native to: Sonoran Desert
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Hildmann's Cereus
Botanical Name: Cereus hildmannianus


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 15' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: White showy, blooms at night
Sun: full sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring to summer
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: blue-green
Growth Rate: fast plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: columnar low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 21-30° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, gray spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Fast-growing substitute for organ pipe cactus.
May be sold as Cereus peruvianus.
Native to: Eastern South America, South America
Also try Stetsonia coryne
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Golden Barrel
Botanical Name: Echinocactus grusonii


[Plant Info Sheet]
plants good for pools low litter

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Mature Size: 1 1/2' h x 2' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: yellow
Sun: full sun, partial sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: globe-shaped low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: long, golden spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Striking accent. Attractive in groupings.
Native to: Mexico, southern Mexico
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Engelmann's Hedgehog
Botanical Name: Echinocereus engelmannii


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 1' h x 2' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Magenta showy
Sun: full sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: clumping low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: long, brown spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Vibrant spring color.
Native to: Sonoran Desert
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Compass Barrel
Botanical Name: Ferocactus cylindraceus


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 2' h x 1 1/2&' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Yellow to orange
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: late spring to early summer
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: globe-shaped low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: long, red/yellow
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Good for naturalistic landscapes.
May be sold as Ferocactus acanthodes.
Native to: Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert
Also try F. herrerae and F. wislizenii.
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Senita
Botanical Name: Lophocereus schottii


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 10' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: pink
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: late spring to summer
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: light green
Growth Rate: slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: columnar low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, gray spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Flowers bloom at night on "furry" top regions of stems.
Recently reclassified as Pachycereus schottii.
Native to: Sonoran Desert
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Totem Pole
Botanical Name: Lophocereus schottii f. monstrosus


[Plant Info Sheet]
plants good for pools low litter

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Mature Size: 10' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: pink
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: late spring to summer
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: light green
Growth Rate: slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: columnar low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: none
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Particularly interesting for its sculptural quality.
Native to: Baja California
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Blue Myrtle Cactus
Botanical Name: Myrtillocactus geometrizans


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 15' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Small greenish-white
Sun: full sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: blue-green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: upright low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 21-30° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, black spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Can become treelike with age. Purple fruits follow flowers.
Native to: southern Mexico
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Buckhorn Cholla
Botanical Name: Opuntia acanthocarpa


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 4' h x 5' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Red to yellow
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: shrublike low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, yellow spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Makes an effective security barrier.
Recently reclassified as Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa.
Native to: Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert
Also try O. imbricata, O. spinosior, and O. versicolor.
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Beavertail Prickly Pear
Botanical Name: Opuntia basilaris


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 1' h x 3' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Magenta to pink
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: blue-gray
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: low spreading low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: small, brown spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Vibrant spring color.
Native to: Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Engelmann's Prickly Pear
Botanical Name: Opuntia engelmannii


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 4' h x 8' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Yellow showy
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring to early summer
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: shrublike low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, white-gray spines
Attracts Wildlife: birds growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Large dark red fruits attract birds.
Native to: Chihuahuan Desert, Sonoran Desert
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Indian Fig
Botanical Name: Opuntia ficus-indica


[Plant Info Sheet]
plants good for pools low litter

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Mature Size: 12' h x 18' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Yellow to orange, showy
Sun: full sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: shrub or tree low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 21-30° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: usually none
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Showy fruits. Treelike sculptural qualities.
Native to: Horticultural Selection
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Giant Prickly Pear
Botanical Name: Opuntia robusta


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 10' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: yellow
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: blue-green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: shrublike low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, whitish spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Pads grow to 1 foot across. Large red fruit.
Native to: central Mexico, Mexico, central Mexico
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Purple Prickly Pear
Botanical Name: Opuntia santa-rita


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 4' h x 5' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: yellow
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: green-purple
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: shrublike low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: small, tan spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Cold or dry weather causes pads to take on striking purple color.
Native to: Chihuahuan Desert, Sonoran Desert
Also try O. macrocentra.
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Mexican Fencepost
Botanical Name: Pachycereus marginatus


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 10' h x 6' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: pink
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: dark green
Growth Rate: fast plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: columnar low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, whitish spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: A bold dramatic accent. Good in containers.
May be sold as Stenocereus marginatus.
Native to: southern Mexico
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Organ Pipe
Botanical Name: Stenocereus thurberi


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 10' h x 10' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Pale pink, blooms at night
Sun: full or reflected sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring to summer
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: olive-green
Growth Rate: slow plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: columnar low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 21-30° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, black spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Striking focal point with time.
Native to: Sonoran Desert
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Spruce Cones
Botanical Name: Tephrocactus articulatus 'inermis'


[Plant Info Sheet]
plants good for pools low litter

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Mature Size: 1' h x 3' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: White to pink, small
Sun: full sun, partial sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: very low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: gray-green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: sprawling low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 11-20° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: none
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Good container plant. Sculptural qualities.
Native to: Argentina
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Argentine Giant
Botanical Name: Trichocereus candicans


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 2' h x 3' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: White showy, blooms at night
Sun: partial sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: sprawling low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: small, yellow spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Fragrant flowers are striking are 6" to 8" across.
Recently reclassified as Echinopsis candicans.
Native to: Argentina
Also try Echinopsis multiplex
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Argentine Hedgehog
Botanical Name: Trichocereus huascha


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 2' h x 3' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: Orange and red, showy
Sun: full sun, partial sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring to summer
Water: low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: medium green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: clumping low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: small, yellow spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Some of the most spectacular flowers of all landscape cacti.
Recently reclassified as Echinopsis huascha.
Native to: Argentina
Look for selections that offer a wide range of flower colors.
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]


Common Name: Cardon Grande
Botanical Name: Trichocereus terscheckii


[Plant Info Sheet]

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Mature Size: 15' h x 8' w plant photos and information for the desert southwest Flower Color: White showy
Sun: full sun plant size and pictures for the desert southwest Flower Season: spring
Water: low plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Color: light green
Growth Rate: moderate plant flower color for the desert southwest Foliage Texture:
Form: treelike low litter plants for the desert southwest Evergreen? evergreen
Hardiness: 1-10° F yard plants for the desert southwest Litter: low
Allergenic: no growing plants in the desert southwest Thorns: medium, tan spines
Attracts Wildlife: growing plants in the desert southwest
Other Features: Similar to saguaro but grows faster and is smaller at maturity.
Recently reclassified as Echinopsis terscheckii.
Native to: Argentina
Plant Type: cacti
[Plant Info Sheet]