For those who appreciate growing a classic cactus, the golden barrel cactus would be an excellent choice. This rounded and cheerful plant, although has sharp spines, is a lovely addition to your garden as well as interior spaces.
In case you are worried about golden barrel cactus care, we should tell you that it is going to be an absolute joy. However, the key requirement is key, as the Echinocactus grusonii has a slow growth rate.
Let us see how you can grow your own happy and healthy mother-in-law’s cushion!
Knowing the Golden Barrel Cactus Better
Originally from Mexico, this is a rare and endangered plant that grows in volcanic rock on slopes, 4,600 feet above sea level in its natural habitat.
Also known as the golden ball, it grows as a roughly spherical globe up to 2-3 feet in height. It also has long and sharp spines in a yellowish color (and occasionally white), that can be straight or slightly curved.
Interestingly, a small golden barrel cactus looks quite different than a mature one. A mature plant can have more than 30 ribs; while the ribs on the baby plants are not easy to notice, giving them a knobby appearance.
Golden Barrel Cactus Flower
In late spring to summer, the Echinocactus grusonii produces small yellow bell-shaped flowers around the crown, forming a golden ring on top of the plant, which reaches 2 inches in diameter.
Golden barrel cactus flowers produce nectar, attracting bees and small birds. When the flowers perish, after several months when pods ripen, you can collect the seed from dried flowers and plant them later.
The not-so-good news is that you need to wait for about twenty years to be able to enjoy them! But after that, it will produce fruits each and every season.
As we said, patience is the key to golden barrel cactus care. And, the blooms are unlikely to appear indoors.
Golden Barrel Cactus Growth Rate & Age
The fact that almost you need to wait for about twenty years may worry you about this plant’s growth rate. So let us see how fast do golden barrel cactus grow.
Granted, the golden barrel cactus growth rate is slow, but it is not always like this. This lovely plant actually grows pretty quick at first, but then it slows down. In about 10 years, the mother-in-law’s cushion will reach 10 inches in diameter.
As estimated, a golden ball can live for 30 years. But in the right condition, it can live to be over 100 years old.
Why Is the Golden Barrel Cactus Endangered?
Unfortunately, this beautiful plant is one of the most critically endangered plants on the planet. According to the latest news, there are only 50 individual golden balls remain in the wild.
The states of Querétaro and Hidalgo in Mexico had numerous golden barrel cacti, but due construction of a dam, most of their habitat has been inundated.
Golden Barrel Cactus Care Tips
As you are going to see below, the golden barrel cactus indoor and outdoor care is very convenient:
As an Echinocactus, the mother-in-law’s cushion does not need water frequently. It is best to water this plant regularly during its growth season (keep it almost dry during the winter). Drench the soil, and wait until it is dried out before the next irrigation session.
The average indoor environment is fine for this plant. Just do not forget to provide it with as much fresh air as possible, and place it in a location without any cold drafts.
This method of golden barrel cactus watering encourages growth and prevents the plants from sitting in soggy soil and the risk of root rot.
Tip: If the plant is under direct sunlight, do not wet its body to avoid sunburn, fungal diseases, or worst problems like death.
In golden barrel cactus care, plenty of sunshine can make your plant the happiest golden ball ever. In glass rooms and during hot summer days, do not forget to provide it with some shade to prevent sun burning.
Temperatures from 50 °F to 75 °F are ideal for Echinocactus grusonii. It cannot handle temperatures below 40 °F and frost well.
Similar to many other cacti, the golden ball prefers well-draining and rich soil. Before filling the container with the proper soil mix, it is recommended to add a layer of gravel or small pebbles for better drainage.
Now it is not necessary to feed your plant, as it may stimulate the unusual flowers. And as you know, only mature and well-established cacti produce flowers. If you decided to fertilize your plant, use a high potassium fertilizer every 4 weeks during summer.
Pests & Diseases
One of the things that make golden barrel cactus care simple, is the fact that it is usually disease-free. Just keep an eye for mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.
When young and growing quickly, it is a good idea to r-pot once a year. Always repot in spring and use a slightly bigger container. When mature, repot every 2 or 3 years or when necessary.
Remember to wear gloves when handling mother-in-law’s cushion its spines do not hurt you.
How to Grow Golden Barrel Cactus from Seed?
You can easily propagate this plant using golden barrel cactus seeds. Simply follow these steps:
- Fill a flat with cactus potting soil. Sow the seeds on its surface.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of sand, and mist the soil evenly.
- Cover the flat with plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot so the seeds germinate.
- You can transplant them when they are big enough for a larger container.
Regardless of the location, whether it is a shelf or succulent garden, this cute plant adds some whimsy to your space. It also looks great next to blue plants, and when planted together among rocks.