How to Grow and Care for Barrel Cacti

How to Grow and Care for Barrel Cacti

Barrel Cacti are the classic desert denizens of lore. There are two genera, Echinocactus and Ferocactus. Echinocactus have a fuzzy crown of fine spines, while Ferocactus are ferociously thorned. Each one can be grown as a houseplant or, in less common situations, the arid garden and are attractive additions to a succulent display.

Barrel Cacti are characterized by their ribbed cylindrical shape. They come in many sizes and may be low and squat or as tall as 10 feet (3 m) in height. Barrel Cacti cares for lost travelers in the desert because it habitually grows tilted to the southwest. Caring for a Barrel Cactus is quite easy, and it makes a great plant for the beginning gardener.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Potted Barrel Cactus should be kept in the warmest room of the home in a bright sunny location. Direct sunlight may burn the plant in the height of the summer, so you should move them back from the window or turn the slats on your blinds to diffuse the light.

Soil for Barrel Cactus is mostly sand with a little topsoil, perlite, and compost. Prepared cactus mixes are suitable for growing Barrel Cactus. Unglazed pots are best for potted cactus because they allow the evaporation of excess water.

Water is a very important component of caring for Barrel Cactus. These plants are native to arid desert regions and usually have only rainfall to supply their moisture needs. Water your Barrel Cacti once per week in summer. These cacti do not need much water in winter when they are dormant. Adequate water in spring may cause the plants to produce a large yellow flower. Rarely plants will then grow edible fruit.

Barrel Cacti naturally grow in low fertility areas, so their nutrient needs are low. Fertilize your Barrel Cacti once a year in spring when they leave dormancy and begin growing again. A low nitrogen liquid fertilizer is a good formula for Barrel Cacti. The amount of fertilizer will depend on the size of your container and plant. Consult the packaging for guidance on the exact amount.

Growing from Seed

Barrel Cacti can be easily grown from seed. Fill a flat with a commercial cactus mix and sow the seeds on the surface of the soil. Sprinkle a thin layer of sand on top of the seeds, and then the soil needs to be evenly misted. Cover the flat with a lid or plastic wrap and keep it in a warm location. The seeds readily germinate and can be transplanted when they are big enough to a larger container.

Source: gardeningknowhow.com

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How to Grow Barrel Cactus

Barrel cactus plants are characterized by their ribbed, cylindrical shape. The cacti come in many sizes and may be low and squat or as tall as 10 feet (3 m.) in height. The barrel cactus cares for lost travelers in the desert because it habitually grows tilted to the southwest. Caring for barrel cactus is quite easy and it makes a great plant for the beginning gardener. Site, water, soil, and container are key to how to grow barrel cactus.

Potted cactus should be kept in the warmest room of the home in a bright sunny location. Direct southern sunlight may burn the plant in the height of the summer, so you should move them back from the window or turn the slats on your blinds to diffuse the light.

Soil for barrel cactus is mostly sand with a little topsoil, perlite, and compost. Prepared cactus mixes are suitable for growing barrel cactus. Unglazed pots are best for potted cactus because they allow the evaporation of excess water.

Water is a very important component to caring for barrel cactus. The plants are native to arid desert regions and usually have only rainfall to supply their moisture needs. Water your barrel cactus once per week in summer. The barrel cactus doesn’t need much water in winter when it is dormant. Water once between December and February. Adequate water in spring may cause the plant to produce a large yellow flower. Rarely, the plant will then grow an edible fruit.

The cactus naturally grows in low fertility areas so their nutrient needs are low. Fertilize the barrel cactus once a year in spring when it leaves dormancy and begins growing again. A low nitrogen liquid fertilizer is a good formula for the barrel cactus. The amount of fertilizer will depend on the size of your container and plant. Consult the packaging for guidance on the exact amount.


Emory Cactus Care

Caring for Emory’s barrel cactus require little experience, making it perfect for beginning gardeners and those new to growing plants indoors. Plant maintenance is relatively carefree, as the plants do not require any specific treatments for pests or disease.

As with many cacti, Ferocactus emoryi requires well-draining soil. When grown in containers, soil mixes specifically formulated for use with cacti and succulents can drastically improve overall plant health. These soils can be found at home improvement stores and local nurseries. Growers can also make their own cactus soil mix by combining mediums such as sand and peat.

Plant barrel cacti in locations which receive full sun. While specifically grown in dry landscapes, plants do require occasional watering when conditions are especially dry. When watering, make certain to avoid direct contact with the cactus plant, as water droplets on plant tissue can cause the succulents to sunburn in hot, arid climates.


How to Grow Golden Barrel Cactus

Last Updated: March 29, 2019 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014.

There are 23 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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The golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is a large, round type of cactus that produces beautiful yellow flowers. Although they're endangered in the wild, golden barrel cacti are popular staples in households and home gardens. To grow your own, you’ll need some seeds, the right potting mixture, and a little bit of patience. If you put in the time and care for your cacti properly, you’ll have beautiful golden barrel cacti for decades to come.


Materials

The aptly named golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is now quite rare in its native habit, but it is frequently grown in cultivation as a houseplant. Less frequently, is is used in the outdoor garden in dry climates where temperatures never fall below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (zone 10 and 11). However, the cactus is less likely to flower indoors than when it's grown in a garden or yard. Amusingly, this prickly plant's nickname is "mother-in-law cushion."

Barrel cacti, as the name implies, are almost perfectly round when juvenile, so they make excellent display plants. They are highly attractive, with the evenly spaced rows or spines on their deeply ribbed lobes. As they grow, it's not uncommon for them to stretch out so they are more oval than circular. As with most cacti, the secret to successful indoor growth is nearly perfect drainage, as opposed to letting them dry out.

This can be quite a large plant when fully mature (as much as 6 feet), but they grow very, very slowly, so indoor specimens will remain manageable for many before becoming a problem.

Botanical Name Echinocactus grusonii
Common Names Golden barrel cactus, mother-in-law's cushion
Plant Type Perennial cactus
Mature Size About 3 1/2 feet in height, 2 feet in spread (very slow growing)
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Dry, well-drained soil, or cacti/succulent potting mix
Soil pH 6.1 to 7.5 (slightly acid to slightly alkaline)
Flower Color Yellow
Bloom Time Summer (does not bloom until the plant is quite old)
Hardiness Zones Zones 10 to 11 (USDA)
Native Area Rocky volcanic slopes of Mexico, SW United States

Growing Blue Barrel Cactus

Blue Barrel cacti are perfect for any type of gardener, especially the beginners, as they are generally very easy to grow and care for. They are best planted in early spring before their most vigorous period when new roots begin to develop. Once these cacti have settled in their new growing environment, they will have very few demands on your part.

In their natural habitat, Blue Barrel cacti grow under full sun exposure with some partial shade. If you want your cacti to grow properly, you must place them in a well-lit spot where they can receive plenty of bright and direct light. Indoors, these cacti grow best near a south or east-facing window. If the sun is too harsh or you live in a region with hot climates, protect your cacti from direct afternoon sunlight, as it may affect their overall health.

Blue Barrel cacti do well in warm temperatures that range from 68 to 77 °F (20-25 °C). They are quite tolerant of freezing temperatures that drop to 25 °F (-4 °C), but it is not recommended a prolonged exposure. When the cooler temperatures show off and during the winter, bring your cacti inside to protect them from extreme conditions.


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