21 Types of Small Cactus Plants

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If you’re new to cactus growing, you might like to consider starting with a few of these small or mini cactus plants. These are ideal for growing in small pots on a bright windowsill. Or, if your desk gets plenty of bright light, these would look great grouped together to add a little sunshine to your day.

In all honesty, many cacti species are fairly slow-growing which means that if you buy some of the larger growing ones, they’re not going to get too big very quickly. So, even a small Saguaro is going to take a really long time to reach a size that’s too large for growing indoors.

Nevertheless, here are some of the smallest growing cacti that you can enjoy while you’re working away at your computer either in the office or at home.

1 Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus (Star Rock Cactus)

This cute little cactus will amaze you when it decides to flower. The stem has a flat top and only reaches a diameter of around 3 inches (7.5 cm). The stunning flowers that appear on the crown can be up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and can range in color from white to pink or bright magenta.

2 Astrophytum asterias (Star Cactus or Sand Dollar Cactus)

Astrophytum asterias

As one of many cute small cactus plants, the stem of this plant is a round ball with around 8 ribs. This species is completely spineless too and is a lovely deep green color. It grows to around 2.4 inches (6 cm) tall and can reach a diameter of around 6 inches (15 centimeters).

The flowers appear on the crown and are yellow with a stunning orange center. They can reach a diameter of 3 inches (7.5 cm). 

3 Astrophytum capricorne (Goat’s Horn Cactus)

Although this cactus starts out being a ball shape, it can grow to a height of around 4 feet (1.2 m). However, this will take quite a long time and the speckled green stem only reaches a diameter of 6 inches (15 cm).

When you see the spines on this plant, you’ll understand why it’s commonly called Goat’s Horn. Each areole on the distinctive ribs can have up to 10 spines growing from it and these can be up to 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) long. These long spines are often twisted or curved upwards.

The lovely lemon-colored flowers are sweetly scented and have red centers. 

4 Astrophytum myriostigma (Bishop’s Cap Cactus)

This spineless cactus has a globular stem that is bright green but covered with many tiny white hairy scales. These give the plant a speckled appearance. The stem also has around 5 ribs that are indented which makes the plant look rather segmented or like a Bishop’s cap.

The glossy yellow flowers that appear on the crown are sweetly scented and around 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. 

5 Blossfeldia liliputana

This is the smallest cactus found anywhere in the world. Each little round stem only grows to around 0.5 inches (1.3 centimeters) in diameter. 

The stems are a lovely gray-green color and have a multitude of wooly areoles that are arranged almost symmetrically. This tiny cactus plant does tend to form clumps by producing numerous offsets.

This cute little ball or disk cactus also has no ribs and no spines. The flowers are quite stunning. They can be white or pink and up to 0.6 inches (1.5 centimeters) long and around 0.3 inches (0.7 cm) in diameter. 

6 Cereus tetragonus ‘Fairy Castles’ (Fairy Castle Cactus)

This dwarf cactus is slow-growing and produces numerous upright stems that resemble the turrets of a castle. The stems are mid-green in color and five-sided which adds to their appeal. 

There are short, white spines that grow from the ridges on the ribs. Mature plants can reach a height of 3.3 feet (1 m) in height. It’s unlikely for this cute plant to flower when grown indoors.

7 Echinopsis oxygona (Easter Lily Cactus)

This cute little cactus really shines its brightest when it starts to bloom. The flowers bloom at night and are fragrant. They can range in color from white and pink to pale red and lavender. Each flower can be around 8 inches (20 cm) long thanks to its long stem. 

The cactus stems can be either globose or elongated and are a lovely shade of green. They’re also heavily ribbed and have spines on the ridges. This cactus will form quite large clumps if given the space as it produces masses of offsets at the base.

8 Epithelantha micromeris (Button Cactus)

This is a small and pretty cactus thanks to the numerous, flat gray spines that cover the green stem almost completely. Each stem only grows to a height of 2 inches (5 centimeters) and a diameter of 1.6 inches (4 cm). This is another species that produces masses of offsets that form a clump.

The flowers are quite small and pink. Following this are bright red, cylindrical fruits that contain black seeds. These fruits are edible.

9 Eriosyce chilensis

This is a beautiful little cactus that has pale green stems. These are covered with dense stout spines that are white, yellow, and brown. The stems can grow up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall but only reach a diameter of 5 inches (12.5 cm).

The flowers are quite beautiful and very symmetrical. They are fuchsia red in color and can often have a white center.

10 Gymnocalycium mihanovichii (Chin Cactus)

gymnocalycium mihanovichii

The chin cactus is one of the most popular of the dwarf cactus varieties. It has a small spherical stem with deep ribs.

This small indoor cactus only grows to a height of 1.6 inches (4 cm) and a diameter of 2.4 inches (6 cm). The stem is usually a dark green or gray color but this can change to red if the plant is exposed to direct sunlight.

There are small wooly areoles on the ribs and these have numerous sharp spines. The flowers can be quite variable in color including white, yellow, green, or pink.

11 Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. ‘Moon Cactus’

The moon cactus is probably the most well-known of all the small cactus varieties. It’s actually two cacti in one. The top part is a Hibotan cactus that comes in a range of bright colors. These include red, orange, and yellow. These cacti don’t have the ability to produce chlorophyll. For this reason, they need to be grafted onto another cactus to survive. 

These colorful small cacti are extremely easy to look after and are perfect for brightening up a windowsill. They don’t usually live for many years but their life can be extended by grafting them onto new rootstock periodically.

12 Mammillaria elegans (Pincushion Cactus)

This is a pretty globular cactus that is covered with dense white spines that grow from wooly areoles. It produces lovely bright pink flowers from these areoles and has the tendency to produce offsets from the base.

13 Mammillaria elongata (Lady Finger Cactus)

From a distance, this plant seems to glisten with a golden glow thanks to the yellow or golden spines that surround the pale green stems underneath. Each stem can reach a height of 6 inches (15 centimeters) and a diameter of only 1.2 inches (3 cm).

The plant forms quite dense clusters from the many offsets that grow from the base of the plant. The flowers appear on the upper parts of the stem and can be white, pale yellow, or pink in color.

14 Mammillaria gracilis (Thimble Cactus)

Mammillaria gracilis

This delightful little plant has bright green round stems that are covered with white spines all over. These give the stems a wooly appearance. 

The plant produces numerous offsets to create large clumps. Each stem can reach a height of 5 inches (12 cm) and a diameter of 1.2 inches (3 cm). The offsets can fall off quite readily and can easily be propagated to produce new plants.

The flowers are pale yellow or creamy-white and the petals can have a pinkish mid stripe. 

15 Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus)

This attractive cactus has roundish stems that are covered with long white spines. It can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) tall and reach a diameter of 20 inches (50 cm). The lovely pink to purple flowers form a ring around the top of the stem.

16 Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus)

This fuzzy-looking cactus produces small globose stems with numerous offsets to form a rounded mound. The stems are covered with soft white spines giving them a soft, furry appearance. 

Each mound can grow to a height of 5 inches (12.5 cm) and can reach a diameter of 16 inches (40cm), The small flowers are creamy-white and can appear all over each stem.

17 Parodia scopa (Silver Ball Cactus)

This ball-shaped cactus is stunning when it’s in flower. The bright yellow flowers almost look like paper daisies and appear at the top of the round stems. The green stems are covered with short white spines which give them a fuzzy appearance.

18 Opuntia microdasys (Bunny Ears Cactus)

This is another very popular cactus. It has pad-like stems that are covered with golden, wooly areoles. There are no spines but yellow glochids that grow from the areoles. 

Each oval stem can be up to 6 inches ( 15 cm) long with a diameter of 5 inches (12.5 cm). The flowers are yellow and are followed by egg-shaped fruits that are red in color.

19 Parodia mammulosa (Lemon Ball Cactus)

This spiny little cactus also has the common name of Tom Thumb. It has a green globose stem that is flattened at the top. This can grow to a diameter of 6 inches (15 cm).  

There are numerous spines growing from areoles on the ribs. The flowers can be pale pink or golden yellow and grow around the flat crown of the stem.

20 Rebutia marsoneri (Crown Cactus)

Similar to other small cactus types, the flowers on this small, globose cactus are quite stunning. These actually grow from the base of the stem and can be in a range of colors including golden yellow, orange or orange-red. The flowers appear quite early in spring and can last for a long time.

21 Turbinicarpus pseudopectinatus

This dainty little dwarf cactus is absolutely delightful and definitely one to add to your collection. It has a globular stem that is almost completely covered with hatchet-shaped tubercles. These have linear areoles. From these areoles grow around 50 very small white radial spines. These are arranged horizontally on either side of each areole.

Each stem only grows around 1.2 inches (3 cm) tall and around 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter. The spectacular flowers are either white or pink and the petals have a darker center stripe.

Don’t forget to check our growing cactus guide to learn more before buying your plants.

Up next: Types of Tall Cactus Plants

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