Echinocactus – Golden Barrel Cactus


This plant, nicknamed the “mother-in-law cushion” (ouch!), needs plenty of sun and not much water. A barrel cactus can thrive with watering as infrequently as once every two to three months.


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The popular Golden Barrel cactus has an appealing, round shape and is covered with golden spines and a few longer golden hairs at the top, which eventually develop into flowers.

Echinocactus Grusonii Profile:

The Golden Barrel cactus is an easy-care, robust plant requiring little and has a good chance of thriving, even for very inexperienced gardeners. Here are its vital statistics:

Family: Cactaceae

Genus: Echinocactus

Origin: Mexico desert

Height: About 8″ indoors or a little over 4′ high outdoors.

Flowers: Yellow flowers may form on mature plants.

Structure: Depending on growing conditions, this golden cactus may be ball shaped or barrel shaped.


Golden Barrel Cactus Care

What Are The Light & Temperature Requirements For Echinocactus grusonii?

These sturdy desert plants like bright sun and warm temperatures; however, cooler temperatures (to 50° degrees Fahrenheit) can be tolerated. Plants kept in a cooler setting tend to develop a barrel shape.

Younger Golden Barrel cactus should be kept in very bright, indirect sunlight. Mature plants can tolerate full sun.


When planting outdoors mix in some sand and/or small gravel into the soil to help with drainage. Be sure to plant on a slight elevation so rain water will run off.

5 Tips For Success Planting Small Barrel Cactus Outdoors

  • The distance between the cactus and other plantings should be a little over twice the circumference of the cactus.
  • Top the soil surrounding the cactus with gravel or quartz sand to facilitate good drainage.
  • Tamp down the soil around the plant to prevent hollow spaces.
  • The size of the hole should be double the size of the root ball.
  • Begin with generous watering.

Can Indoor Cactus Stay Outdoors In Summer?

The hedgehog cactus can stay outdoors year-round in areas where the temperature never drops below 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

In cooler climates, if you want to set your potted cactus out for the summer or transfer it into a garden bed for the summer, wait until the nighttime temperature is consistently above 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember to introduce your cactus to the outdoors gradually. Set the pot outside in a sheltered setting, with filtered sunlight for a few hours a day.

Gradually increase the time and move the plant into brighter, less sheltered settings.

After a week or two, your cactus should be ready to stay outdoors for the spring and summer months.

If you are going to transplant your golden barrel into the garden for the summer, be sure to give it plenty of space to grow.

Good air circulation is also important to help prevent problems with dampness. An open, airy setting also allows for the best exposure to sunlight.

Remember, younger plants will not be able to tolerate the heat of the midday sun and full sun. Position young plants so they receive very bright, indirect sunlight.


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