Cactus plants are recognized for surviving and thriving in the harshest conditions, making them one of the most adaptable, versatile, and self-sufficient species of plants.
Most cacti can survive prolonged periods of drought and limited sunlight exposure. Cactus plants have pointy spines that set them apart from other succulents in terms of appearance.
Moreover, when placed in ideal environmental conditions, some species of cacti can reach incredible heights.
Cucti’s appearance and low maintenance requirements make them excellent houseplants, especially for beginners, since they require minimal water and sunlight to survive.
If you have recently added a cactus plant to your house plant collection and are wondering if they have genders, you have come to the right place.
In this blog, we will be going into detail about how you can identify the type of cactus plant you have and also answer the question, “do cacti have genders?”. Keep reading to find out!
Interesting Facts about Cactus Plants
- Despite harsh weather conditions, some cactus plants can survive up to 200 years.
- The word ‘cactus’ comes from the Greek word ‘kaktos‘ (spiny plant).
- The prickly spines of a cactus are meant to protect it from predators.
- Some cacti species can survive without water for up to 2 years.
- Splashes of water can lead to watermarks or discoloration on the cactus leaves.
- Cactus plants are the only species with prickly bumps on their leaves.
Ways to Identify the Type of Your Cactus Plant
Cactus plants have 1750 known species, each of which has unique characteristics.
However, most of these species have one thing in common: their ability to survive without water and sunlight for extended periods.
If you have a wide variety of cactus plants in your home and are looking to identify their type, their physical characteristics are a primary distinguishing factor.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the characteristics you should watch out for:
Leaves, Spines, and Color of the Cactus
One of the most important things to consider when distinguishing your cactus plant from the other is its spines.
You can look closely at the leaves to identify if the cactus has spines.
Typically, a cactus with spines has leaves with sharp edges, whereas one that does not has smooth and round leaves.
The type of spines and needles on a cactus also vary and can help you identify its type.
However, keep in mind that this is not always an accurate indicator.
Plants that have tough leaves have spines that are flatter in nature, whereas succulents typically have sharp and pointy needle-like spines.
Thus, we can conclude that the tougher the leaves, the flatter the spines will be.
Apart from spines, the leaves and shades of a cactus can also help you distinguish it by providing helpful information.
Two primary photosynthetic pigments, chlorophyll, and carotenoids can be used to determine the color of your cactus leaves.
Chlorophyll is a pigment that gives plants their vibrant green color while converting light energy from the sun into chemical energy.
In contrast, carotenoids are pigments found in plants that produce red, orange, and yellow hues.
You can also determine what type of cactus you have by the shape of its leaves.
Most succulents have straight needle-like leaves, whereas others have flat leaves that allow them to endure harsh weather conditions.
Height of the Cactus
When you are trying to determine the type of cactus plant, it would also help to consider the height of your plant.
Cacti that grow and thrive at high altitudes have longer roots than those that grow well at sea level.
Thus, the altitude of your area is also something you can consider when choosing which cactus plant to purchase.
Since most cactus plants do not grow beyond a certain height, you can tell which type you have by measuring their size.
The Shape of the Cactus
If your cactus does not have any leaves or spines, you can also look at its shape to determine which type of cactus you have.
The shape of a plant is often an indicator of the kind of climate it can grow and survive in, which can provide helpful information about the characteristics and nature of your cactus.
Flowering Pattern of Your Cactus
When kept in their ideal native conditions, most cacti plants bloom; however, each variety blooms in a different style and pattern, which can help you identify the type of cactus you have, allowing you to determine if it’s terrestrial or epiphytic.
Terrestrial cactus plants have firm roots that connect directly to the soil.
In contrast, epiphytes require little connection with the soil and can survive in extremely humid weather conditions. Epiphytes source their nutrition from other plants.
Moreover, you can also look at the way the flowers of a cactus are arranged to tell what kind it is.
For example, some cacti have radial flower patterns, whereas others have flowers that grow in vertical or zigzag patterns with different colors.
If your cactus has flowers growing in vertical stripes, the type of cactus you have is likely a cordon.
If your cactus plant has flowers growing in radial patterns, it most likely belongs to the barrel or saguaro category.
Thus, there are many physical characteristics that you can keep an eye out for to help you determine what species your plant belongs to.
If you can’t identify its type based on the abovementioned characteristics, look for unusual or peculiar features in your cactus.
You might figure out what you’re looking for this way. Knowing which type of cactus plant you have is helpful.
With this information, you can take care of your cactus plant according to its specific light, soil, temperature, humidity, and water requirements.
Do Plants Have Genders?
To understand whether cacti have genders, let us first understand whether plants have a gender.
Like living species, most plants require a reproductive organ to reproduce.
Some plants are indeed only male or female, while others have male and female reproductive parts, which means they don’t have to rely on the other gender to reproduce.
Plants that have a single gender cannot reproduce on their own and rely on the opposite gender to reproduce.
However, one common thing about both plants is that they require reproductive parts to reproduce, whether on their own or through pollination.
Single-gender plants are known as dioecious plants; plants with both male and female reproductive parts are known as monoecism plants, with most of the plants falling in this category.
Another fact to note is that plants can reproduce both sexually and asexually.
Plants reproduce asexually through spore formation, fragmentation, regeneration, or propagation.
This reproduction occurs when a plant reproduces independently without relying on another plant’s genes.
Do Cactus Plants Have Genders?
The straightforward answer to the question, “do cactus plants have genders?” is that some do while the majority of others don’t.
The majority of the cactus species are hermaphrodites, meaning they consist of both female and male organs and do not require the other gender to reproduce, allowing them to reproduce on their own via their reproductive organs.
This process is called self-pollination.
Some cactus plants also depend on insects, birds, and animals for the transference of pollen.
However, since these pollinators are not present in deserts due to the extreme climatic conditions, desert cacti evolve and adapt to the process of self-pollination.
Cactus plants that do not have a specific gender are also categorized as monoecism plants.
Cactus plants can also reproduce through asexual reproduction, which occurs when a cactus relies on the genes of another plant to reproduce.
In the case of desert cacti, asexual reproduction occurs through cuttings, which makes it sound like manual propagation.
Still, it is not since cactus plants can also propagate naturally when the cactus is damaged.
This quality allows it to reproduce even when it is not in its best shape.
Most cactus plants are flowering plants and rely on sexual reproduction, meaning they have male and female reproductive structures.
Thus, we can conclude that assigning a specific gender to most cacti species is impossible.
Our Final Thoughts
Cactus plants are known to be extremely tough and resilient, which makes them a great addition to your houseplants as they are small in size and require minimal sunlight and water to survive.
Most cactus plants are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both female and male parts, making them genderless.
Since these plants are known to thrive in harsh desert conditions, it makes sense for them to be self-reliant to reproduce.
Although insect and bird pollinators are always welcome, cactus plants typically reproduce sexually through self-pollination.
As there are essentially little or no pollinators in desert environments, cacti have adapted to pollinating independently, having developed many ways to reproduce.
Cacti produce millions of seeds over time that are transferred from one cactus to the other with the help of insects, birds, wind, or rain.
From the countless number of seeds, only a few of them germinate and turn into a cactus.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to Tell a Succulent’s Gender?
Succulents grow little flowers called buds. When these buds start blooming, you can tell the gender of the plant.
A baby succulent will have small pink or white flowers. An adult succulent will have light pink or white flowers.
A succulent with pink flowers is a girl. A succulent with white blooms is a boy.
What Size Pumice for Succulents?
We do not have a recommendation for size. The most accurate method to determine the size of pumice for succulents is to measure the container diameter or pot opening circumference.
What happens if Succulents don’t get Enough Light?
When succulents do not get enough light, the most common complaint is that they seem to brown around the edges. This just means that the leaves are not getting enough natural light.