Cacti are part of the large family of succulents. They have distinguishing features such as ribbed surfaces, spines and waxy coating. But many cacti also produce beautiful flowers. Many open only in the cool of night, but most have intoxicating scents.
Aporocactus or Rat's Tail Cactus
Aporocactus is native to rainforests or mountainous regions in tropical and subtropical regions. The plants have long and narrow stems that are jointed and flattened. Large scarlet or pink flowers are produced on the tips of the branches in late spring or early summer. Grow them in free-draining soil, and they're good for hanging baskets. This cactus has few spines.
Epiphyllum or Orchid Cactus
Stems of the orchid cactus are almost spineless. The plant produces large flowers in shades of cream, yellow, salmon and red in late spring to early summer. These cacti prefer dappled shade to bright sunlight, and soil must be free draining. In the wild, the cacti grow in tree canopies in tropical forests, and do well in hanging baskets when cultivated.
There are about 20 species of selenicereus, which is native to the forest of the Southwestern United States, Latin America and the West Indies. The cacti are grown for medicinal purposes, including treatment of rheumatism and heart ailments. The plant has long stems with small spines and produces large pure white flowers that are very aromatic. The roots of the cacti are aerial, meaning they can grow on trees or rocks, though some cultivars do well in soil.
Schlumbergera or Christmas Cactus
A native of Brazil, this cactus blooms in fall or winter. It produces silky, irregularly shaped flowers in shades of pink and red. Some hybrids produce white, salmon or purple flowers. It is easily grown in pots and likes partial shade or morning sun.