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Succulents and cacti are a strange bunch with incredible variety. These drought-loving plants range in size from teeny tiny to absolutely gigantic. Some have spikes, some don’t. They can also be found in every color of the rainbow. However, even with that astonishing variety, there are some particularly weird looking plants.
If you’re tired of having the same succulents as your neighbor, or you simply want a conversation starter, here are ten of the weirdest looking succulents and cacti.
Espostoa melanostele ‘Peruvian Old Lady Cactus’
As you may have already guessed, this woolly cactus is native to Peru and can reach up to seven feet in height in the wild. When kept in a pot, the cactus tends to stay much smaller, around 10 inches or so. Although the Peruvian Old Lady Cactus may look cuddly, its signature wool hides sharp spines.
The Peruvian Old Lady Cactus grows well in a pot, but it will grow better if planted in the ground. However, it’s not a frosty hardy plant, so be sure you live in a frost-free climate before planting your strange new cactus outside. As with most cacti, well-draining soil and plenty of sun are essential. Infrequent water is best, especially during the winter months.
Kalanchoe rhombopilosa ‘Pies from Heaven’
This unusual-looking succulent with an even more unusual name is native to Madagascar. The plant typically reaches about 12 inches in height. The woolly leaves are just over an inch long and are a silvery-green with brown mottling. When in bloom, the plant produces petite greenish-yellow flowers.
Pies from Heaven prefer partial sun as strong, direct sun may burn the leaves. This is not a cold-tolerant plant, so you may need to bring it indoors or protect it during frigid temperatures. Kalanchoe rhombopilosa do best with infrequent water, so be sure to let the soil dry out between watering.
Cereus forbesii monstrose ‘Ming Thing’
This twisted cactus is a monstrose form of Cereus forbesii, which is native to South America. Ming Thing is blue-green in color and usually measures over 12 inches in height at maturity. The almost-sculptural plant has woolly areoles and small black spines. It is an ideal plant for container gardens or decorative arrangements.
Although Ming Thing prefers bright indoor light, it can tolerate a low light environment. Adequate drainage is a must, as is infrequent water. This is a slow-growing cactus, so don’t expect to repot it very often.
Euphorbia mammillaris variegata ‘Indian Corn Cob’
Indian Corn Cob is a clustering cactus with a thick, ribbed stem that can grow up to 14 inches tall and about 2.5 inches in diameter. It often has small, club-shaped branches. The variegated cultivar is vibrant green and yellowish-white in color, but the stems may also feature hints of pink. Between late winter and early summer, Euphorbia mammillaris produces tiny reddish-orange flowers.
Indian Corn Cob does best with full sun but will tolerate partial sun. Containers and soil with adequate drainage are essential in avoiding root rot. Euphorbia mammillaris is easy to propagate with cuttings but use caution when handling as the plant’s sap may be irritating to your skin.
Crassula ‘Baby’s Necklace’
Baby’s Necklace is actually a hybrid that was created by Myron Kimnach. It’s a cross of Crassula perforata and Crassula rupestris. Its leaves are small, puffy, and stacked along the stems, similar to the beads on a necklace. The stems can reach up to 12 inches in height and typically grows in clumps. In late spring to early summer, Baby’s Necklace produces petite white flowers.
Baby’s Necklace is an easy to care for succulent and is great for inexperienced and experienced gardeners alike. Like most succulents, excess moisture must be avoided at all costs. The more sun this plant receives, the more vibrant its color will be. Propagation is incredibly easy and can be done with leaves, stem cuttings, or offsets.
Echeveria ‘Mauna Loa’
This odd EcheveriaI grows in a rosette, but unlike many other Echeveria cultivars, Mauna Loa’s leaves are ruffled at the edges. The frilly leaves are pale green near the stem and darken to burgundy toward the ends. The more sun this plant receives, the deeper the colors.
Although Mauna Loa looks a bit different from other Echeveria, the care it requires remains the same. Avoid overwatering and be sure to plant in well-draining soil. Mauna Loa can be propagated easily from leaf cuttings.
Euphorbia obesa ‘Baseball Plant’
If you’re looking for a simple but strange looking plant to add to your collection, look no further than Euphorbia obesa. This dome-shaped cactus is usually grayish-green with orange or purple bands that create a plaid-like pattern. It’s a rather petite cactus and can grow up to eight inches tall and about 3.5 inches wide. The flowers produced by Euphorbia obesa are tiny, greenish-yellow and have a sweet scent.
Baseball Plants prefer partial shade, but if you notice the plaid pattern fading, the plant needs more light. As with most cacti, adequate drainage is necessary in preventing root rot. Watering should be infrequent, especially during the Baseball Plant’s winter dormancy period.
Aloe vanbalenii ‘Crawling Octopus’ or ‘Van Balen’s Aloe’
The vibrant red-orange leaves make Van Balen’s Aloe stand out from most Aloe that you may be familiar with. The leaves start out as a vibrant shade of green and turn orange and red with increased sun exposure. The more stress the plant undergoes, the deeper the color. In winter, the plant produces yellowish-orange flowers atop a slender inflorescence. At maturity, Crawling Octopus measures up to three feet in height and four feet in diameter.
Aloe vanbalenii is tolerant of extreme heat but cannot handle freezing temperatures. A light frost is fine, but if you are expecting frigid weather be sure to bring the plant in or protect it from the cold. Van Balen’s Aloe grows best in well-draining soil with plenty of sun. Although it makes great ground cover if the climate allows, its twisting octopus-like leaves look great in hanging containers as well.
Lithops ‘Living Stones’
Sometimes called Living Stones, these drought-loving little weirdos are native to South Africa. At maturity, they usually measure under three inches in both height and diameter. They come in a variety of colors, all resembling natural shades of stone. In autumn, they produce surprisingly large yellow or white flowers.
Lithops can be a bit tricky to care for, but with a little old-fashioned neglect, they’ll do just fine. Read our care guide for in-depth care information on these strange stone-like succulents.
Opuntia subulata cristata ‘Crested Eve’s Needle’
Crested Eve’s Needle is a strange crested variety of Opuntia subulata. At maturity, it typically measures around 20 inches in height. The crested variety typically stays much smaller than normal Opuntia subulata, which can reach up to 13 feet tall. Instead, this odd plant focuses its growth on twisting and spreading out in an almost fan-like shape.
Opuntia subulata prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade. It can handle a light frost but must be protected from freezing temperatures. Excess moisture can lead to root rot, so proper drainage is a must. It’s not uncommon for the plant to occasionally produce a normal branch, which is called a reversion. The reversion can be cut off to preserve the crested plant and propagated to grow a normal Opuntia subulata.
If you’re tired of the usual succulents and cacti, why not try something more exotic? Whether you prefer the woolly Peruvian Old Lady Cactus, the simplicity of the Baseball Plant, or the strange waves of Crested Eve’s Needle, be prepared to talk about your new and interesting plants. These weird looking succulents and cacti are certain to be the center of attention no matter where you plant them.