Pictured below are two of my favorite cacti for Arizona landscape design. To left is a Mexican Fence Post Cactus – Pachycereus, marginatus – and to the right is a Totem Pole Cactus – Pachycereus schottii f. monstrosus. They are columnar cacti which means they grow vertically, and have “spears” as you can plainly see. Cereus is the genus of both and any cacti with that the genus are generally going to be columnar and upright growing.
The Mexican Fence Post pictured at left was planted as part of a xeriscape design in Scottsdale. These columnar cacti are great for those people who may not “love” cacti as much as I do. They are not very thorny, (only small spines on the edges but I can grab them with my bare hands easily) they are usually quite symmetrical and balanced, and they have a darker green color with an interesting white stripe. Definitely unique and great for a focal point or as a tree substitute in a smaller landscape. I really love to cluster boulders around them along with some Angelita Daisy or other small flowering plant.
The Totem Pole pictured at right was planted as part of a desert landscape design in Fountain Hills, Arizona. This “cereus” cacti is great for the quirkier of folks. Its is thornless, which is a plus for those that are just starting to appreciate cacti. It has very random shapes and really no two ever look alike. Totem Pole are also a great focal point, great near the house, and again I like to surround them with boulders and small flowering plants.
Both of these cacti are so useful in Arizona landscapes. They give character, size, and a really unique shape to work with. Both are very low water use and can also be maintained easily by removing “spears” as they get too tall or wide. Cuttings of these cacti are easily harvested and transplanted around the yard or given to friends and neighbors. Cereusly, try them out.