The Kingcup Cactus

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Many types of cacti will flourish in a Colorado landscape. Among the most beautiful varieties is the kingcup, which belongs to a group of cacti called the claret cups. Its natural habitat extends through much of Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. Here is a closer look at this stunning plant.

Aesthetic Appeal

The kingcup is prized for its attractive flowers, which range in color from deep red to orange red. Each bloom is accented with a splash of yellow or orange in the center along with a lime-green stigma. The cactus offers these delightful blooms from late spring until July. Kingcup’s cylindrical or spherical green stems and spine-covered ribs provide a striking backdrop for the flowers and add visual interest throughout the year, even when flowers are absent for the season. Like many cacti, kingcup grows in clusters. This close-up photo shows a kingcup flower’s dazzling, vivid colors and cup-like shape.

colorado native plants
Source: Winter Hardy Cacti
drought-tolerant plants
Source: Winter Hardy Cacti

Cultivation and Growth Habits

Kingcups prefer well-drained soil and partial sunlight. They can handle a cool winter, but prefer little moisture. High altitude is not a problem for these durable cacti as they naturally grow at altitudes between 4,000 to 9,000 feet.

Beyond their attractive flowers, one of the best attributes that kingcups possess is exceptional drought-tolerance. This is why it is one of the cactus types included in the Dryland Mesa at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Established plants in this garden have not received water for over a decade! This characteristic is a good reason to consider adding this cactus to your landscape, as it will never fail you even during long droughts and water restrictions.

Are you interested in adding drought-tolerant plants such as the kingcup to your landscape? Lifescape Colorado can help you choose the best plants that match your needs and style. We also offer landscape design, architecture, construction, maintenance and many other services to help you with your landscaping needs.