© RHS, Herbarium



Common name: Barrel cactus

Easy to grow, barrel cactus conjure up arid desert scenes from western North America where they originate. Keep them as long-lived houseplants or in a frost-free greenhouse. Young specimens are rounded but become more column-shaped as they age. The related Echinocactus are also referred to as barrel cacti.


They usually grow as a single specimen but sometimes form clumps. Their sides are deeply ribbed with prominent, often curving, buff, red, orange or brown spines. Rounded, red, yellow, red or orange flowers appear near the top of the cactus in summer.


Keep ferocactus happy by grow them in a cactus compost with some extra sharp sand or grit. Provide bright light with good ventilation. Can stand them outside in a sheltered sunny patio in summer.


They dislike overly wet compost and a humid atmosphere, especially when resting in winter.

Did you know?

Ferocactus produce nectar at the base of their spines that attracts ants in the wild, which in turn help to protect the ferocactus from insect attack.

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