How to Plant Golden Barrel Cactus. Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is a large showcase cactus for desert-themed gardens. This slow-growing cactus eventually reaches 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. The pale green cactus produces vertical rows of 3-inch-long gold spines....
Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) is a large showcase cactus for desert-themed gardens. This slow-growing cactus eventually reaches 4 feet tall and 2 feet wide in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. The pale green cactus produces vertical rows of 3-inch-long gold spines. In the summer, small yellow blossoms appear in a circle on top of the cactus. Plant the golden barrel cactus in groups of three or more to add greater drama to your low-water landscape.
Things You'll Need
Remove all the debris, sod and weeds from a planting area with full to partial sun exposure. This cactus grows best in part shade if the climate is hot. Prepare the planting area in the late spring or early summer. The cactus needs an area with quick drainage, because it cannot tolerate wet soil.
Create a hill made up of equal parts peat moss, potting soil, sand and small-textured gravel. Make the hill at least 12 inches tall and 36 inches across. This improves drainage around the cactus roots so it can tolerate rainy weather. If you're planting in a natural desert area, the soil does not need to be mounded up.
Dig a small, wide hole in the hill with a shovel. Make the hole just deep enough to bury the roots with the cactus body on top of the ground.
Wrap the golden barrel cactus with thick foam padding or several layers of towels. Tie the material around the cactus loosely with a piece of rope. This protects your hands and arms from being damaged by the thorns. Remove the cactus from its container.
Place the root ball in the hole and backfill the hole, covering the roots. Tamp down the soil with the end of a pole so the roots make good contact with the soil and the air pockets are removed. Untie and remove the padding from around the cactus.
Soak the root zone with water to settle the soil. Give the golden barrel cactus 1 to 2 cups of water twice a week when it doesn’t rain if nighttime temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If night temperatures are lower, do not water the cactus. Once new growth starts, stop watering.
Cover the cactus with a layer of cheesecloth for about a month. This provides shade to stop sunburn and reduces rapid moisture evaporation from the cactus.
Tips & Warnings
When planting the golden barrel cactus in an area where it is not hardy in the winter, just leave the cactus in its container and bury it in the garden. Dig the container up and take it inside for the winter.
Do not plant mature golden barrel cactus alone. The moisture content stored in the main body of large cacti makes them very heavy. Planting large cacti is a job for at least two people.
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