11 Adorable Small Cactus Types For Your Desk

There are two types of cactus in the world. One is a small cactus and the other one is a large cactus. I have seen cacti as tall as big trees and as small as my thumb. These tiny cacti are adorable, and you can easily put them on your desk at work. Although there are a lot of small cactus types in the world, in this article I am going to introduce you to the most famous tiny cactus in the cactus world. If you want to find out more about small cactus, stay with me. 

small Cactus

Star cactus

The star cactus is commonly known as the urchin cactus or as the sand dollar cactus. Their bodies are round in shape and are further segmented into eight slices. These small cacti may come up with white hairs. Furthermore, they may produce flowers in yellow during spring. Too. In terms of the sizes of the plants, they would attain a maximum width of two to six inches, and that characteristic makes them a perfect choice for indoor gardening as well as for outdoor gardening. Star cacti are endemic to the USA.

small Cactus

Feather Cactus

Feather cactus forms either a columnar shape or a spherical form. Further, these small cacti may grow in clusters as well. You could spot them carrying the flowers right on top of the stem. They will get as tall as 4 inches when they reach maturity. Besides, their cluster width would be about 3.5 feet once they grow to their best potential. Feather cacti are endemic to Mexico. These plants would be excellent choices for container gardening. Feather cactus in full blossom is a treat to watch, and it would intensify the beauty of the plants when you plant them in cute-looking containers. 

small Cactus

Old Lady Cactus

The old lady cactus is a pincushion cactus species that belongs to the mammillaria family. Hairs and spines are common features of old lady cactus. The highlight of these plants is their flowers, which appear in spring. Those flowers would be either pink or purple, and it would create a halo effect on the plants. Old lady cactus usually grow in groups, and they are endemic to Mexico.

You can pot these plants in independent containers and terrariums or grow them combined with other plants.  They would be more like a globe in shape when they are young. When fully mature, they will be about 10 cm – 15 cm wide. Furthermore, they would stay under a height of 10 cm when they are mature. These plants would tend to take a globe shape.

small Cactus

Moon Cactus

Moon cactus is native to South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia, among other places. They usually consist of colorful succulents which have run out of essential chlorophyll levels to conduct the photosynthesis process. Hence Many people tend to graft these plants. You could spot this small cactus forming in different colors of hot pink. brilliant orange and even neon yellow as well.

Moon cacti are quite popular as gift items. Furthermore, they would be great additions to the windowsill as well. When fully grown, these plants will only be about 1/2 inch wide.  However, there could be several cultivators that would grow up to about 8 inches ( 20 cm) in diameter also. These plants would grow into globular masses.

small Cactus

Lady Finger Cactus             

The Lady Finger cactus, which is commonly known as Golden Stars or Gold Lace Cactus, is such a pretty cactus species. They are endemic to central Mexico. Their elongated stems have made them inherit the name “lady finger cactus.” Besides, these plants carry brown or yellow spines as well. This small cactus is an award winner. Ladyfinger cacti produce flowers in white, yellow, or pink. These plants consist of several tube-like shapes. Novice cactus collectors tend to collect these plants a lot due to the unique look they have. These plants would be 6 inches in height. Furthermore, their width would be just over one inch when they are fully mature.

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Parodia plant size would vary depending on the parodia species. Furthermore, in terms of the shapes, they would be more globose shaped, columnar shaped, or barrel shaped depending on the parodia species. These small cacti are quite popular as houseplants. Parodia plants are commonly known as golden ball cactus or as yellow tower cactus too. They will attain a maximum height of 36 inches when they are mature. All the Parodia species consist of ribs, some with spines as well. These plants are endemic to Bolivia, Uruguay, etc. Above all, you could spot them bearing flowers as well.

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Bishop’s Cap Cactus

Bishop’s cap cactus usually grows spineless along with a cylindrical stem. They will be star-shaped as they grow older. These plants are endemic to Central Mexico. Furthermore, you may easily come across them in the USA as well. If you live in the appropriate USDA hardiness zone, you could grow these small cacti as garden plants. Bishop’s cap cactus is a flowering plant species. Those flowers would be yellow in color, and they may have an orange center as well. Those flowers release a sweet fragrance, and many people tend to grow them as houseplants due to that characteristic.

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Bunny Ears Cactus

Bunny ear cactus hails from Mexico. The appearance has made them inherit the name “Bunny Ear Cactus.” You could spot them covered with glochids and with brown prickles as well. They would achieve a maximum height of Two to three feet, and that is what makes them excellent choices for houseplants. You can spot this small cactus developing flowers in white and fruits in purple. Bunny Ear cactus would form as a shrub. Furthermore, they will reach a maximum height of 2-3 feet when they reach maturity. Furthermore, they would be 4-5 feet wide too.

small Cactus

Chin Cactus

Chin cacti are originally from South America. Many cactus lovers use the chin cactus as an ornamental plant. Most of the chin cactus are semi-flattened. They would be globe shaped and you could spot them in green-gray colors. Besides, they may also comprise sharp spines which would arise from the areoles of the plants.

This feature would give them the look of a chin for the plants. There are some species that will attain a maximum height of 7 inches ( 18 cm). Further, they would be 12 inches ( 30.5 cm) wide too. However, the majority of the species would be under 5 inches ( 12.5 cm) in width. These plants are attractive to hummingbirds. Furthermore, this small cactus would be handy to use for containers and rock gardens too.

small Cactus

Mammillaria lenta cactus

Mammillaria lenta cactus originated from Mexico. These plants would tend to take a flattened globular shape. The spines would be covered with white,delicate spines. These plants would attain a maximum height of 1.2 inches when they are fully grown. Furthermore, this small cactus would be about 4 inches (10 cm) wide when fully mature. These plants would emerge with flowers in white. Mammillaria lenta cactus would make great outdoor plants.

small Cactus

Pincushion Cactus

Pincushion cactus are small and squat plants. They would be about an inch ( 15 cm) in height when they are older. In terms of the shapes of the plants, they would be either ball-shaped or barrel-shaped. These plants are originally from the United States. Many people make use of this small cactus to decorate their indoor landscaping. They have a covering of white spines all over their bodies.

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How to take care of small cactus types

Sunlight and temperature requirement

It is imperative that you expose these plants to ample sunlight when taking care of them. However, do not leave them exposed to direct sunlight as this is harmful to the plants. When you place them indoors, you need to choose the brightest, sunniest spot at your home. If you wish to expose them to some summer sunlight, you could consider bringing them outdoors during this time. You may place them on a sunny patio or in a sunny yard during the summer.

On another note, do not expose the plants to midday sunrise as it would be too harsh for them to handle and would make them sunburnt. If your beloved cactus gets sunburned, those spots would remain on the plants forever. Eventually, it would make the plants look aesthetically less beautiful.

On the other hand, if there are much colder temperatures and if you have grown them outdoors, the best thing you could do is to shift them indoors. However, you can grow them outdoors during the summer, as those conditions would boost the healthy growth of the cactus. Furthermore, do not place the cacti closer to cold drafts and to heat vents as well. If you accidently expose them to those, it would result in drastic fluctuations in temperature, which would not be ideal for the plants. So, always keep the cactus away from those.

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Water requirement

Watering the cactus precisely is a critical factor when looking after these plants. Ideally , you need to supply them with a thorough watering session and allow them to wither after that. However, you should water in a way that you will not make the soil waterlogged and soggy. Cacti have water reserved in their bodies and, due to that, you could neglect watering them once or twice too. 

However, you need to water the plants only if you ascertain that their soil is dry.   If you think the first two or three inches of the soil are dry, you could consider watering them. On the other hand, if you think their soil is dry, you need to allow them to dry for another one or two days and then water them after that. 

Many gardeners make lapses in watering and end up overwatering all the time. This would contribute to root rot and scab as well. So, if you are hesitant about whether you should water or not, the best thing to do is to wait for some time, as under watering would not create any adverse impacts, whereas over watering would. If your cactus is suffering from a lack of water, one or two watering sessions may be enough to revive the plants. In contrast, you will have to put a lot of effort into reviving an overwatered cactus as it would result in many adverse repercussions.

Frequency-wise, you could water your cactus once every ten to fourteen days when they are actively growing. If you come across any wrinkles in the plants, it literally means the plants are dry and you need to immediately resume watering them. Once you water them once or twice, it will revive the plants and get them back to their normal refreshing condition. Besides, refrain from watering them in winter as they will be dormant during winter. They would literally be in a state of relaxation.

Use the right soil mix and the fertilizer type for the cactus

It is crucial that you select a soil mix that is specifically made for the cacti. You can easily find them online or at any garden store. It would ensure healthy growth in your plants. Bear in mind that cacti would opt to grow in a potting medium that consists of more sand and rocks. 

Those elements would ensure excellent drainage in the soil mix. Consequently, it would not retain any excess water in the soil mix, which would be healthy for the healthy growth of the cactus. I don’t recommend using the regular potting mix for these plants as they would not drain excess water. Instead, they would try to retain them within the substrate. However, you could consider amending the regular soil mix and then using it on the plants.

Even though cacti don’t depend a lot on fertilizers, it is crucial that you feed them when they are actively growing, as it would be beneficial for the health and for the vigorous growth of the cactus. The best thing is to proceed with the fertilizers that are specifically made for the cactus. However, you need to be mindful to not overfeed them as it would result in feed burns on the plants. 

Ideally, you need to nourish the plants optimally and not in excess. You may also use fertilizers that are specifically made for succulents to do this task. However, I urge you to dilute fertilizer and then apply it to the plants. Always adhere to the labeled instructions. Furthermore, always remember to always water the plants and then feed them. Dampened soil would nourish the plants optimally. It is noteworthy that you should refrain from feeding the plants when they are dormant.  

Do small cacti need sunlight?

To answer the question of whether small cacti need sunlight, yes they do. To be more precise, they need to have direct sunlight in the morning for about four hours daily. I suggest the best location to fulfill this requirement would be a bright, sunny windowsill. On another note, I suggest you rotate the plants as then it would allow the plants to absorb sunlight evenly.

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How to propagate small cactus

How to propagate small cactus using cuttings

Using a cutting method to propagate the small cactus is the easiest and most common way of propagating the cactus. All you have to do is obtain the cuttings using sterile tools such as a pair of scissors or a knife. Once you remove the cactus, you need to allow them to dry and develop callous. Once you use callused cuttings for this purpose, it would ensure that there would be no infection taking place.  You could spot them forming roots   within a couple of weeks’ time if you use the cutting method.

How to propagate the small cactus using seeds

Propagating the cactus using seeds is somewhat time-consuming. Furthermore, if you are a patient grower, you could try this method out. You can consider using the seed propagation method on the solitary growing solitary. You could obtain the seeds from the cactus flowers. Ideally, the flowers need to go through pollination by pollinators. Having said that, you may also pollinate the flowers by using a paint brush as well. Eventually, fertilization would take place. Lastly, you could dry the flowers and obtain the seeds from them.

Next, you need to provide the right conditions for the seedlings to germinate. When the seedlings are big enough, you could consider potting them in individual pots. I recommend you use a lot of seeds to do this, as only a few seedlings could reward you with flourishing plants.

How to propagate the small cactus by offsets

There are some cacti which will propagate asexually by developing shoots and offsets. Bear in mind that all the cacti will not produce offshoots . So, the ones that produce offshoots could be propagated by using the offsets. All you need to do is remove the offshoots carefully and place them in an appropriate soil mix. Once you remove the offshoots from the mother plants, it would help them to focus their energy on the mother plants.

Where you can place small cactus

Small cacti can thrive almost anywhere. In fact, they will perform well irrespective of where you grow them as long as they get adequate sunlight levels. So, the best place to grow the small cactus would be a bright, sunny window edge. Having said that, do not grow them uncovered in direct sunlight, as it would be too much for them to handle. In other words, it would make the plants sunburnt.

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Related questions.

Are there miniature cacti?

There are miniature cacti, and as their name itself suggests, these are mini-sized and adorable beauties. They are all low-maintenance plants. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that they don’t show significant growth either.

Is it OK to put cactus inside the house?

To answer the question of whether you can put the cactus inside, it would depend on the cactus species. For example, if you have a spiny cactus it would be best to grow them in the garden instead of placing them inside the house. However,it is a spineless cactus. You may grow them inside the house, but make sure that you are placing them in a bright sunny spot.

How big does a mini cactus get?

There are some mini cacti which would get as tall as 50 feet. In contrast there would be some other mini cactus which would grow only a few inches high too.

Do tiny cacti grow?

Tiny cactus grow well if they can fulfill their sunlight requirements. In addition to that they need to have a well draining soil mix also to grow well and grow longer. The key factors for a healthy growth of the tiny cactus are a well draining soil mix, moderate watering, and sufficient sunlight exposure. 

Do mini cacti stay small?

Mini cactus can stay small when you grow them in small pots . Having said that,  it would depend on the mini cactus species you select as they would start to outgrow from the pots at a certain point of their lifetime.


Before concluding, I hope this article gave you an insight on the small cactus, the right care tips you need to practice and lastly the modes of propagating them as well. So, I hope you will make use of this information and start cultivating the small cactus ! 

Credit to : Desert Plants of Avalon

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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.