• July 3, 2015

Cactus Flowers: Mother Nature’s Fireworks

Did you know that cacti can bloom? Yes, those prickly green plants burst out some of the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen. For photographer Greg Krehel, these crazy cactus flowers have become an obsession.

“Since I was a kid I’ve always loved succulents and cacti. One year I ended up at a local garden shop and picked up [a] cactus for my collection. A couple years later it put out these awesome flowers, unlike others I had seen. It just kept blooming. It really went to town.”

Note: Many of these cacti are hybrids that were bred and cultivated by different individuals, hence the unusual names.

purple cacti flowers blooming
Antimatter flowers
yellow cacti flowers
Arizona Sunset flowers

After seeing these stunning blooms, Krehel decided he needed to know more about the breed of cactus he had bought. He discovered it was a type of Echinopsis, cacti that are native to South America. Krehel says, “It turns out mine was a ‘snoozer’ compared to other varieties out there, even though I thought it was fantastic.”

Krehel was hooked. He started buying more blooming cacti and realized he wanted to find a way to capture the flowers’ incredible beauty. Eventually he developed a method of focus-stacking images so that every part of the frame would be sharp, making every little detail visible.

purple cacti flowers
Ten hours of Eroica flowers
yellow cacti flowers
24 hours in the life of ten Daydream flowers

Once he mastered supersharp composites, Krehel started testing out time-lapses. The flowers usually bloom for about eight hours, so a large degree of movement is compressed into a few seconds. It’s important to know when the blooms will start, so Krehel becomes a de facto babysitter while waiting for the plants to form their buds.

Much of the minute movement shown in the time-lapses is invisible to the naked eye. “We just don’t have the ability to notice the subtle changes,” he says. “But then you see the way the flowers will ‘double open’—where they open, close, and then spring open again. The flowers are never really still—they’re constantly moving; the pace slows down sometimes, but it doesn’t ever stop.”

He continues, “These photographs aren’t art photography—they’re more scientific. I want to take these mind-blowing flowers and let them speak for themselves.”

pink cactus flower
Nine hours of a Cassandra flower blooming
peach cacti cactus flowers
Fascination flowers

It doesn’t take long to realize that Krehel has fallen head over heels for these incredible flowers.

“I’ve taken to calling them freaky flowers because of the stark contrast between the flowers and what they’re growing on. Cacti are spiky, thorny, and have crazy body shapes, yet you’ve got these masses of flowers coming off of them.

pink cacti flowers
Four Yes flowers blooming over eight hours

“I’ve always respected the flowers, but you respect it all the more when you see the energy and the dance that these things do.”

To see a high definition supercut of Greg’s cactus flowers blooming, watch this video:

You can view more of Greg Krehel’s work on his website, Echinopsis Freak.

There are 34 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Freeman
    March 10, 2016

    Hello, what causes that rocking movement seen in most clips used in this time-lapse. Considering they have taken more than 8 hours to capture, it couldn´t just be the wind, since the movement isn´t disjointed at all.
    Is it some development within the flower itself that causes the petals to rock back and forth?

  2. Lisa
    September 12, 2015

    Beautiful work!
    It’s just such a shame that cacti don’t flower too often.

  3. cal
    July 28, 2015

    How wonderful it is!

  4. Villy Guzder
    July 24, 2015

    The cactus plant is a unique plant with a beauty of its own…thanks for the lovely photographs. I love them.

  5. Meng-Hoe Lim
    July 22, 2015


  6. Phyllis Kadle
    July 14, 2015

    Lovely! Like fireworks without the noise. Very calming

  7. Richard
    July 13, 2015

    Who says plants don’t have a nervous system? You could not have such perfectly matched timing between buds without one.
    Thanks for mesmerizing me with their beauty.

  8. Ellie
    July 13, 2015

    So calming and beautiful. It’s nice to focus on something like this for a change from the hectic alternate reality.

  9. Fornik Tsai
    July 13, 2015


  10. prakash jain
    July 13, 2015

    wonder of nature…..beautiful…..eye pleasing !!!!!!!!

  11. antonio
    July 13, 2015

    Sois los mejores

  12. Isabel Saldana
    July 13, 2015

    Simply Stunning!

  13. McKinley
    July 12, 2015

    Cacti are the icing on the perfect cake of nature. You have perfectly captured them in their best performance.

  14. Rae
    July 12, 2015

    Beyond beautiful!

  15. M.Saileela
    July 12, 2015

    Greg’s painstaking work to capture Nature is just adorable.

  16. Giuseppe
    July 12, 2015

    An amazing show of beauty! Gorgeous! Thank you

  17. Giuseppe
    July 12, 2015

    An amazing show of beauty that nature displays for our eyes and souls to be filled up! No matter how long this wonderful work of magic lasts! Thanks a lot.

  18. Joggie
    July 12, 2015

    ….just amazing…. fantastic…. gorgeous…. what else can man say…

  19. Don Parker
    July 12, 2015

    I’m playing hooky from church this Sunday morning. This is better.

  20. Francisco Cerezuela
    July 12, 2015

    I have to wait for months to see my cactuses flower just a few hours. Fantastic work. Thank you !

  21. Patricia Knott
    July 12, 2015

    Thank you for providing info about this stunning family of cactus. Now I know what I’ve been shooting on visits to Salinas, CA.

  22. Bapakye Dibi
    July 12, 2015

    Can’t stop looking at these lovely flowers!

  23. Michael Andrews
    July 12, 2015

    Excellent! How can I make this my screensaver?

  24. Michel Maher
    July 12, 2015

    Before seing this I wouldn’t think Cacti coulf be so beatiful plant. Nature can really be wonderful!

  25. L Welch
    July 12, 2015

    Your beautiful film has lifted my spirits! Thank you.

  26. Dr Frank A Haniff, MD
    July 11, 2015

    Heavenly! Divine..

  27. Satyabrata Majumder
    July 10, 2015

    Unimaginable….Wonderful…Heavenly. Nothing more to say – I am speechless.

  28. Mei
    July 8, 2015

    Wow! Awesome! Thanks for allowing us to view your fantastic work.

  29. ernesto nolasco
    July 8, 2015

    Exotic. Out of thorns and its nature, they bloom to our delight.

  30. raghuvaradan
    July 8, 2015

    fantastic work.

  31. Marcia
    July 7, 2015

    Extraordinary piece!

  32. howard
    July 7, 2015

    I’ve grown many cactus never had any bloom 🙁 who knew cats like cactus .but beautiful blooms

  33. michael sweetman
    July 4, 2015

    Fantastic work as always. Keep it up and keep sharing.

  34. Joan Churton
    July 3, 2015

    This time-lapse works of art are absolutely gorgeous. They have brightened my morning. Thank you

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