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What's the Difference Between Cactus Species and Tropical Plants? - Varnish + Vine

What's the Difference Between Cactus Species and Tropical Plants?

Cacti are hardy plants that can survive in harsh conditions, often without water for extended periods. Are all cacti like this? What are the main differences between cactus species? How do cacti compare to other tropical plants? Cacti are known for their ability to thrive in extreme conditions, enduring long periods without water. Explore the unique characteristics that make each cactus species distinct. Discover how cacti differ from other tropical plants.

This article will answer these questions, provide some general tips for caring for your cactus, and look at what makes cacti so unique in the plant kingdom.

What do all cacti have in common?

All cacti share common characteristics. They belong to the succulent plant family, known for their thick, fleshy parts and water retention abilities.

All cacti have flowers with ovaries, yet these are often hidden beneath petals and sepals. Additionally, cacti possess areoles, small shoots responsible for spine production.

All cacti share common traits, yet they exhibit significant diversity among different species. Let's explore the distinctions between cacti types to appreciate their unique beauty.

What are the differences between the various species of cacti?

There are many different cacti species. In fact, there are over 2000 known and cataloged species of cactus in the world, each with its own unique traits and distinct appearance. So, although they have much in common, there is a huge difference between the San Pedro Cactus and, say, the Monstera Adansonii, otherwise known as the Swiss Cheese plant.

Some key differences among various cacti species are their size, shape, shoots, flowers, and occasionally fruits – for instance, the Peruvian Apple Cactus yields tasty edible fruit.

How do cacti differ from other tropical plants?

Although many cacti flourish in tropical regions, they are markedly different from other tropical plants such as the Fiddle Leaf Fig. The main difference between a succulent such as a cactus and a tropical plant is that succulents are able to retain vast amounts of water which allows them to thrive during times of drought, where tropical plants would wither and eventually die from a lack of hydration.

For a home garden enthusiast, knowing how to care for different plants is crucial. Tropical plants need frequent watering compared to cacti. Typically, tropical plants need water every few days, while cacti are fine with weekly watering. Both must have good drainage to avoid root rot and ensure survival.

Summary

The 2000+ species of cacti in the world have a lot in common, but they also have a ton of differences, which is what makes each one unique and special. Many cacti thrive in tropical environments, but they shouldn't be confused with tropical plants. Cacti are succulents that can retain large quantities of water for extended periods, whereas tropical plants will perish quickly without adequate hydration.

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