The cactus family is native to the Americans but they can be found all over the world from areas of Europe, Asia, Africa all the way to Australia. It's a misconception that cacti grow in deserts. Nothing can grow in a true desert, many cacti do grow in very dry areas which might be known as deserts.
Cacti can grow in a wide variety of growth habitats, we have categorized them into 4 easy to remember categories you can consider cactus habitats.
When most people think of cacti they think of the desert but this is not always the case. If we take the Sonoran Desert for example, this is the second largest desert in North America covering parts of California and Arizona and stretching over the border to Mexico.
We are speaking of a desert but it receives quite a lot of water. It has two rainy seasons one in the summer and another in the winter, but nothing in between those. These cacti have adapted to survive in dry areas, they are able to store the water for the dry season.
The Andes is the longest land mountain range in the world. It stretches along the western coast of South America for about 7,000 km. The temperature can vary from nice and warm to freezing. But many cacti are adapted to live in these high regions.
These cacti endure freezing temperatures by shriveling in the fall and winter. This shriveling is similar to the much more familiar sap cycles in some trees in which sap "goes down" in the fall and "rises" in the spring.
Coastal areas can be very harsh, the salty air and soil can make it very difficult for plants to grow there. Along the coast of Chile for example, sometimes years go by without any rain at all. Although these tough conditions some cacti still manage to survive! This is their secret.
The cold seawater means that cold air moves over the hot land, which produces fog. Usually, this happens every morning and the cacti can find the water they need by absorbing moisture from the fog.
This type of cactus you will find in tropical rainforests that stretch across the northeast of Brazil, Central America and some parts of Asia. Conditions are very different here, in many of these areas it rains almost every day! They require more water than desert cacti, but still less than most other types of plants.
Most Jungle Cacti are either epiphytic or lithophytic meaning they grow in trees or grow on rocks respectively, that's why these plants are ideal for hanging planters. This type of cacti gets its nutrients from the air or from dead leaves. It is important to note that there are no parasitic cacti. Those that grow in trees do so for support and do not sap nutrients from their host.