Echinocactus grusonii or Golden Barrel Cactus is a very beautiful cactus native to Central Mexico. In nature, the cactus will reach up to 3 feet (0.9 m) tall and wide. They are globose in shape and have 21-37 ribs when mature. Spines are golden-yellow, eventually becoming pale and then brown. The 8-10 radial spines are up to 1.25 inches (3.2 cm) long, with 4 central spines up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. They are slow growing and one of the most popular cacti in cultivation today. The cacti are considered endangered in the wild from over collecting and from loss of habitat, placing them on the IUCN Red List of critically endangered species. Plants are of easy culture and are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 9-12.
Blooming: This cactus blooms in late spring to early summer on mature specimens. Flowers are yellow up to 2.5 inches (6.5 cm) long.
Culture: Echinocactus grusonii need full sun with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand. We add small gravel to this mix to ensure good drainage. The cacti are well watered and allowed to dry thoroughly before watering again. Since they are native to areas with very poor soils we fertilize them once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. They are very slow growing but that can be overcome somewhat with a little more water during the growing season, but one should pay attention to how much water the plant gets. If they are watered too much this will cause root rot. During the winter month water is restricted to only enough to keep them from shriveling.
Propagation: Echinocactus grusonii is best propagated from seed.
Echinocactus grusonii was featured as Plant of the Week August 21-27, 2009.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.