Cacti: Studies on introducing a new group of ornamental plants

J. Erwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cacti and succulents represent some of the most diverse and interesting plants in the plant kingdom. Cacti can have ornamental forms, spines, and large ornamental flowers that are occasionally fragrant. Succulents can have ornamental forms and can have ornamental fragrant flowers on inflorescences that often have a long postharvest life. Aside from their ornamental potential, cacti and succulents are often drought, heat and/or cold tolerant, and can have minimal nutritional requirements. Taken together, cacti and succulents represent a group of plants with potential as ornamental potted, bedding and/or landscape plants. We initiated a project 3 years ago to evaluate the potential of unstudied species in these two plant groups as new ornamental crops. Early studies focused on determining what factors induce flowering and assessing the potential of each species as a new ornamental potted, bedding and/or landscape plant. Thus far, we have determined the flowering requirements for over 75 cactus species across six genera. Among succulents, we have focused on identifying how to induce flowering on already identified ornamental crops (often due to plant/leaf form). Other than flower induction work, we developed criteria for assessing the ornamental potential within each plant group. Follow-up experimentation to develop production protocols were also conducted and will be outlined. This study is an example of a case study of what experiments may be considered when initiating work on a new group of species with potential for ornamental commercialization. Which species show the greatest potential, future experiments planned, breeding needs, and future collections planned will be discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-364
Number of pages6
JournalActa Horticulturae
StatePublished - Mar 4 2009


  • Flowering
  • Photoperiod
  • Screening
  • Vernalization


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