The effect of seven different constant temperatures and five ranges of alternating temperatures on seed germination of seven species of cacti from Puebla, México was analyzed. Six cacti species germinated in a wide range of temperature. Columnar cacti were more tolerant to low temperatures and germinated in a wider range of temperature than barrel cacti. One of the barrel cacti studied (Ferocactus recurvus) only reached full germination at 25 °C. Temperature fluctuations did not produce significant effects on germination compared to the results obtained at constant temperatures. This may reveal differing ecophysiological adaptations with respect to temperature requirements during the establishment conditions for each life form. Columnar cacti may become established mainly under the shade of desert shrubs, whereas barrel cacti maybe can also become established in open areas, beneath the shade of small rocks or soil irregularities. In both cases, temperature fluctuations are attenuated by the shade, but mean temperatures may be higher in the second condition than beneath the shade of plants.