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.
- Back to genus Echinocactus
- Back to genus Ferocactus
- Succulentopedia: Browse succulents by Scientific Name, Common Name, Genus, Family, USDA Hardiness Zone, Origin, or cacti by Genus
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