Cactus flowers I missed while I was in Germany

While I was in Germany, a lot was happening in the garden. The weeds were growing like, well, weeds, but far more exciting was the first wave of cactus flowers. Fortunately, my wife kept a close eye on the goings-on and captured the flowers in the photos you see below. All credit goes to her.

Echinopsis ‘First Light’
‘First Light’ is always one of the first echinopsis hybrids to bloom in our garden. The flowers are show-stoppingly beautiful. See for yourself.

First one flower...

...then a whole bouquet of flowers

On the downside, the flowers are fully open for just one day. They begin to wilt the next day.

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’
There’s only one echinopsis that rivals ‘First Light’ in terms of sheer beauty, and that is ‘Flying Saucer’. If anything, it might even be more spectacular, mainly because the flowers are quite a bit larger, up to 8" in diameter. But like ‘First Light’, they’re short-lived.

My wife’s hand for scale

Echinopsis ‘Salmon Queen’
‘First Light’ and ‘Flying Saucer’ are columnar cacti up to 3 ft. in height. Strictly speaking, they’re Trichocereus hybrids rather than Echinopsis, although Trichocereus was lumped into Echinopsis in 1974. In 2012, genetic analysis found that the two genera have divergent lineages, meaning they’re not as closely related as once thought. As a result, Trichocereus was restored as a genus, and it would be more correct taxonomically to refer to ‘First Light’ and ‘Flying Saucer’ as Trichocereus. But most people really don’t care—the plants definitely don’t.

In contrast to Trichocereus hybrids, which are columnar, true Echinopsis hybrids are much smaller and globe-shaped. There are hundreds of Echinopsis hybrids with flower colors ranging from pure white to magenta-purple. I planted about a dozen in the ground last year, and two of them flowered while I was away.

The first one was ‘Salmon Queen’. As you might have guessed, it has salmon-colored flowers:

Echinopsis ‘Ishtar’
The second Echinopsis hybrid to flower was ‘Ishtar’. It has a different genetic makeup, but the flower color is quite similar to ‘Salmon Queen’. The Huntington describes it as “ashen pink to orangish-pink, with purer pink midrib and cream-colored basal stripe.”

Echinopsis ‘June Noon’
‘June Noon’ is a taller columnar Trichocereus type. Its flowers have a “candid white petal with a canary yellow midrib” [1]. While maybe not quite as attention-grabbing as ‘First Light’ or ‘Flying Saucer’, it’s still a beautiful presence in our garden.

Echinopsis ‘Vanilla Ice’
‘Vanilla Ice’ is a hybrid made by Brent Wigand. He’s a prolific grower based in Riverside County, California. Check out his website to see a full range of hybrids.

‘Vanilla Ice’ has pure white flowers and is a more calming presence than attention getters like ‘Flying Saucer’.

NOID Epiphyllum
Echinopsis/Trichocereus weren’t the only cacti that bloomed during my absence. Here’s a no-name Epiphyllum aka orchid cactus in the backyard. It produced a jaw-droppingly large flower:

Acanthocalycium spiniflorum f. violaceum
Its name is a mouthful, but this smallish round cactus from Argentina has delicate flowers with a metallic sheen:

Ferocactus glaucescens
I planted three blue barrels (Ferocactus glaucescens) on Bamboo Hill last fall. Two of them are now in bloom. The flowers are quite small in relation to the size of the body.

Echinocereus dasyacanthus
I’ve been waiting for my Echinocereus dasyacanthus (aka Texas rainbow cactus) to bloom and I’m not disappointed. There was only one flower, but it stayed open for over a week. That’s an Echinocereus for you! It don’t think there’s another cactus genus with more long-lived flowers.

Echinocereus reichenbachii var. alberti
This one isn’t mine (I picked it up for a friend at the recent Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society sale), but after seeing the flowers, I wish I’d bought one for myself. Maybe the new owner will give me a small pup in a year or two...

Parodia mammulosa
This cactus was a gift from my friend Justin who found it at his local Ace Hardware Store. There was no ID, but based on the flowers, we think it’s Parodia mammulosa. Whatever it may be, it’s been pumping out flowers like there’s no tomorrow. And what flowers!

Parodia mammulosa is planted in a Corten planter inside the front yard fence

Mammillaria perbella hybrid
The last cactus I want to show you isn’t in flower, but it has brilliant red fruits, something mammillarias are known for:

Stay tuned for more cactus flowers in the weeks and months to come!

© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. What a marvelous selection of blooming cacti. Beautiful!

  2. You've developed an impressive collection, Gerhard. It far better than anything I've seen at my local botanic garden. Your wife's photos are excellent.

  3. Thanks to Lady Gerhard for the amazing photos! Many Ooh's and Ahh's while looking, one more brilliant than the next. It's crazy how an unplanned purchase at a hardware store can steal the show... the NOID turned out to be an Ace! :-D

  4. Wow, drop dead gorgeous. They bare a striking resemblance to waterlily blooms. It's too bad you were away during the first show. Your wife however, did an incredible job of capturing their beauty. She is also quite a talented photographer.

  5. I have many Echinocereus but I think Gymnocalycium stay open more days here in Phoenix. Plus some have flowers that change color over the time they are open!

  6. You have some serious photographic competition there. Fabulous photos of fabulous flowers. The flowers with more subtle colors are every bit as glorious as the brighter ones.

    I'm happy to report the cactus you gave me two(?) years ago is about to flower here for the first time. Saw the buds just today. Hooray!


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