Cacti Succulents

Top 10 Rare & Unusual Looking Succulents & Cacti: Complete Guide

Are you looking for an unusual succulent or cactus? Read on as we make our pick of the top 10 options for you to grow at home.
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Succulents and cacti are without a doubt the most appreciated houseplants around the world. Do you still wonder why? From their friendly and easy-going style to their various sizes, shapes, and colors, these plants have a special place in every gardener’s heart.

But did you know that there are a few species out there that look out of this world? Although there are so many charming succulents and cacti to choose from, we introduce you to our top 10 unusual looking succulents and cacti, but don’t blame us if you can’t resist buying them.

Crassula ‘Umbella’ a.k.a. Wine Cup Succulent

Good news for all succulent-lovers! We found a truly beautiful specimen! Crassula ‘Umbella’ plants, sometimes labeled as ‘Wine Cup’ plants, have gained their popularity thanks to their outlandish look. They can be easily recognized by their multiple pairs of round, bright green, and umbrella-like leaves that grow on tall and erect stems. From winter to spring, they will bewitch their surroundings with delightful tiny, and yellow-green flowers.

Crassula umbella
Crassula umbella

These succulents will remain vigorous when they are well-taken care of. Protect them from harsh sunlight and extreme temperatures and you will have a healthy companion for a long time. When planting your Crassula ‘Umbella’ babies, make sure you use a well-draining soil such as a succulent mix or prepare your own using perlite, loam, and sand.

They will require more effort on your part in their very young stage. But! Once they get used to their new growing conditions, these plants become drought tolerant and can take care of themselves. However, they will show the best results when their soil is kept lightly moist and will not handle waterlogging very well.

Senecio Peregrinus a.k.a. Dolphin Succulent

Have you ever seen more adorable succulents? Well, now is the perfect time to meet them in person! These crowded pods of leaping dolphins are pretty rare hybrids that appeared in the world thanks to an experiment that consisted of mixing Candle Plants and String of Pearls. Although these succulents can be difficult to find, you will see that acquire at least one specimen is really worth the effort.

Senecio Peregrinus
Senecio Peregrinus

Besides their friendly foliage, Dolphin succulents produce daisy-like flowers with clusters of white petals. And do not forget about the most fragrant feature of these succulents: their bloomings come with a strong and lovely scent of cinnamon. How cool is that?

All succulents are pretty easy to grow and these ones are no different! Dolphin succulents enjoy lots of sunlight, but they can also handle some partial to full shade. When it comes to their planting soil, light and well-draining commercial mixes like those designed for cacti and succulents are most suitable. They will show the best results when you water them whenever the soil has dried out thoroughly. When the winter has settled in, water your dormant Dolphin succulents less often than usual.

Haworthia Cooperi a.k.a. The Transparent Succulent

With their high diversity and unique looks, Haworthia Cooperi succulents are very interesting houseplants to have around. These cuties have familiar foliage, exhibiting tiny, fleshy, and green leaves that grow in clumps of different shapes. Usually, their leaves have bristly edges and transparent tips. But! You will surely want to take a look at those completely translucent varieties, such as Dielsiana and Truncata.

Haworthia Cooperi
Haworthia Cooperi

Like all succulents, Haworthia Cooperi plants have no high demands regarding growing and caring. They thrive in bright and indirect light with about four to five hours of morning sun every day. To provide these succulents with proper sunlight, place them near east, south, or north-facing windows and protect them from the direct, harsh sun.

These plants do well in a well-draining commercial mix designed for cacti and succulents. They are drought-tolerant at least for a few weeks, so it is better to forget about your succulents once in a while than to over-water them. Due to various environmental conditions, Haworthia Cooperi plants will need more frequent watering during the summer than they do in winter.

Stapelia Grandiflora a.k.a. Starfish Flower Cacti

If you look at their succulent foliage, you might be tempted to think that these plants are not unique at all. But wait to see them blooming! With their large flowers that come in various colors and patterns, Starfish flowers can be truly spectacular. They have similar traits to carnivorous plants, possessing a flora that arouses curious intruders. Their full-blooms become pretty stinky after a few days, but this particular odor is very attractive to insects, making them unable to move once they are sitting on the flowers.

Stapelia Grandiflora
Stapelia Grandiflora

Starfish flowers are suitable for both indoor and outdoor growing. When growing them indoors, you can move them outside in summer or keep them in a greenhouse all-year-round. They are easy-going succulents that respond well to almost any light conditions. A balanced sun exposure type would consist of plenty of morning sunlight and partial to full shade in harsh afternoons.

These succulents grow at their best in well-draining soil with watering whenever the top 1 or 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch. For optimal blooming, feed your Starfish flowers with a houseplant fertilizer at half strength in early spring.

Echeveria ‘Barbillion’

All Echeverias are as pretty as a picture, but this particular species is one of a kind! What makes us appreciate Echeveria ‘Barbillion’ plants is their ability to change their shape and colors throughout the seasons. And we could not be more grateful! These succulents grow in rosettes that can reach up to 18 inches (45 cm) in diameter. Usually, their leaves are green and leave any basic style behind by turning into different shades of pink, purple, or blue.

Echeveria ‘Barbillion’
Echeveria ‘Barbillion’

Their mesmerizing foliage can be maintained healthy when these succulents are grown in full sunlight. Like most succulents, they grow happily in a well-draining potting mix designed for cacti and succulents. The watering technique is very important in the overall care of your ‘Barbillion’ succulents. A good ‘soak and dry’ method is most preferred, as you can avoid over-watering them in time.

When they are provided with suitable conditions and lots of love, these Echeveria hybrids will show off by producing plenty of flowers. Their blooms are somehow holographic and colored in the same vibrant shades as their leaves. Pay more attention to your flowering succulents in spring and you will be charmed by their color mixes!

Trachyandra Tortilis

We love our plants so much and sometimes they leave us faster than we would expect. But this is not the case for Trachyandra Tortilis! These succulents have a pretty long lifespan, making them great for growers that get attached to their leafy companions. With proper environmental conditions and good care overall, you can pass these beauties on to future generations.

You just need to take a quick look at their alluring curly foliage, to fall in love with them. And as if their attractive leaves were not enough, these plants produce small pale pink bloomings from late winter to early spring. The flowers will last only a day, so you must keep an eye on your succulents if you want to take a few cute shots.

Trachyandra Tortilis
Trachyandra Tortilis

Like their unique foliage, Trachyandra Tortilis succulents have an unusual dormancy during the hot summer months. They will benefit from a well-lit room, but will not appreciate direct sunlight. Also, they are not cold hardy, so make sure you grow them in a slightly warm location.

A well-draining potting soil specially designed for succulents is the ideal growing medium for these succulents to thrive. You must water your plants thoroughly and allow the soil to dry out in-between waterings, as they are quite sensitive to over-watering.

Discocactus Horstii

What can be more adorable than these tiny and bloaty cacti? They have become highly cultivated houseplants around the world thanks to their fabulous and easy-going nature. With their hypnotic stems covered in small, slightly puffy, and white spikes, these cacti will fit in absolutely any place in your home. They usually grow up to 2 inches (5 cm) in height and 2.4 inches (6 cm) in width, so you can easily hide them from curious children and pets.

Discocactus Horstii
Discocactus Horstii

Discocactus horstii cacti can be grown either on their own as they reach maturity or grafted when younger. Although they are considered pretty difficult to grow as solitary houseplants, there is no reason to avoid them! When they receive proper care and lots of love, these cacti will show their gratitude to their owner by offering him an eye-catching bouquet of gorgeous white flowers in summer.

As long as they are kept in a warm environment and provided with suitable light, these cacti will grow just fine without much trouble. Some full morning sun with partial to little shade in the afternoon are the ideal conditions to keep your chubby cacti happy. For optimal growth, the potting mix must have very good drainage and the watering should be repeated only when the soil has dried out completely.

Opuntia Cylindrica ‘Emerald Idol’

If you feel like your cacti collection is not yet complete, we highly recommend checking out these special-looking beauties. Emerald Idol plants belong to the well-known group of cacti called Prickly Pears, so you might already know that they are widely spread worldwide.

Opuntia Cylindrica
Opuntia Cylindrica

They are pretty small flowering cacti that can grow up to 5.9 inches (15 cm) tall and 11 inches (30 cm) wide. Their emerald green spirals covered with tiny spines and white areoles are the unique traits that make them highly valued in outdoor and indoor landscapes by many gardeners.

Emerald Idol cacti are one of the most tolerant species of cold and drought. They do well with little watering as long as they are planted in a light, porous, and acidic to neutral soil with good drainage. When it comes to light demands, these cacti will benefit from full sun exposure. However, if you live in a very hot and dry climate, you might need to keep them in a location with partial shade in the afternoon.

Rainbow Hedgehog Cacti

We all are used to the common cacti that come in various shades of green, but that does not mean there are no other fancy specimens out there! Like most cacti, Rainbow Hedgehog species have their stems entirely covered by spines. Nothing impressive so far, right? Well, these cacti have reddish-magenta spines that turn light pink or yellow when they reach maturity.

Rainbow Hedgehog Cacti
Rainbow Hedgehog Cacti

Moreover, they produce many buds that will exhibit lovely pink flowers in summer. They are without a doubt the missing dash of color from your home or the perfect gift for your pink-lovers friends.

Rainbow Hedgehog cacti are low-maintenance houseplants that need proper light conditions, porous potting soil, good air circulation, and no frequent watering. During their active growing period, they prefer locations with full sun to partial shade.

The soil must be watered only when it has dried out completely, but you should skip the watering during the cold winter months to encourage blooming in spring. For optimal drainage, you can add a layer of stones above the potting soil and make sure you provide your cacti with little organic matter.

Cereus Forbesii Monstrose ‘Ming Thing’

These monster babies have unusual features that are nothing like your ordinary cacti species. As they mature, they produce numerous clumps of sculptural green to blue nodules. Ming Thing cacti look more similar to succulents than to their ultra-spiky relatives. However, they have woolly areoles and tiny black spines, so they can fit just fine in your cacti collection. Their shrubby-like growth is slow, reaching only up to 12 inches (30 cm) in height throughout their lifetime.

Cereus Forbesii Monstrose
Cereus Forbesii Monstrose

When you are passionate about gardening, it is very unlikely to not have at least one cactus in your plant collection. And we already know they are very easy to grow and care for, especially when the environmental conditions simulate their natural habitat. It is worth mentioning that Ming Thing cacti are more sensitive to sunlight than other similar plants, so they need partial shade or filtered light to thrive. Their demands may change depending on the season, temperature, and humidity.

Plant your Ming Thing cacti in acidic to neutral well-draining soil and feed them with fertilizers for the best results. These cacti must be grown in a warm place all-year-round, protecting them from any cooler temperatures or even frost. The frequency of watering will vary from one season to another. In summer, they prefer regular watering whenever the soil feels dry to the touch, while in winter, your cacti will need watering less often.

Which of these unique-looking succulents and cacti is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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