Ferocactus gracilis H. E. Gates
Fire Barrel Cactus
Ferocactus gracilis subsp. gracilis, Ferocactus gracilis var. gracilis, Ferocactus peninsulae var. gracilis
Ferocactus gracilis is an attractive cactus with a solitary deep green stem with about 24 ribs and felted areoles that bear clusters of 7 to 13 reddish central spines with a yellow tip and 8 to 12 whitish radial spines. The stem is globular at first, becoming cylindrical with age. It grows up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall and 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The central spines are somewhat curved and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long. Radial spines are slender, spreading, up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long. Flowers are diurnal, golden yellow or reddish, with a darker red stripe down the middle of each petal. They appear in summer. Fruits are cylindrical, yellowish, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Choose a location that receives direct sun during all or most of the day. Plant your Barrel Cactus in early spring before new roots begin to form. The roots may appear dry, but that is typical before new growth begins. Dig a hole deep enough for the plant's roots and amend it as needed to provide fast-draining soil. A good soil mixture includes 10 percent native soil, 45 percent washed sand or pumice, and 45 percent compost.
Water the cactus at the planting time to anchor it into the soil. Water again only if the weather in your area is unseasonably dry and if normal spring or winter rainfall doesn't occur. Ferocactus needs a dormant period with dry soil during the winter.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Ferocactus.
This species is native to Mexico (Baja California).
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