With their beautiful flowers and curious looking spines, it’s easy to see why so many people love to grow cacti. While some types of these succulent plants have very specific requirements, others are able to thrive in a wider range of growing conditions. Cacti, such as those within the genus Echinocereus, are ideal candidates for culture in containers, as well as great outdoor options for adding unique visual interest to flower beds, borders, and drought-tolerant landscapes.
What are Echinocereus Plants?
Echinocereus cacti are most often identified by their small stature. However, their diminutive size does not come without a multitude of advantages. Sometimes referred to as “hedgehog” cacti, plants seldom grow larger than 1 foot (30 cm.) tall and a few inches in diameter.
Echinocereus plant varieties are often characterized by their showy blooms, which range in color from red, yellow, and even bright pink. These flowers, in combination with varying spine patterns, allow gardeners great variety when choosing which types of Echinocereus to grow. With these wonderful characteristics, it is easy to see why many cactus-growers quickly become cactus “collectors.”
Growing Echinocereus Cacti
While it is a fairly common misconception that cacti can be difficult to grow, growing an Echinocereus cactus is fairly easy. Unlike some plants, which can only be grown in frost-free climates, there are many types of Echinocereus which are tolerant to cold and freezing temperatures.
Though all Echinocereus cacti are in the same genus, cold tolerance can vary greatly. Researching types of plants which you plan to grow, as well as buying from reputable sources, will increase the likelihood of success when planting these cacti outdoors.
To ensure flowering, make certain that plants receive full sun (at least 6-8 hours each day). Plant the cactus in well-draining soil, and water only when necessary. Due to their succulent nature, cacti are excellent options for low-maintenance gardens or areas prone to periods of drought. For those who wish to grow Echinocereus in containers, well-draining potting mixes specifically suited for growing cacti and succulent plants is often available at local nurseries or home improvement stores.
Naturally, mature Echinocereus cacti grow to form mounds. These mounds can be divided, and individual “offsets” can be rooted as a means to propagate the plant. Echinocereus may also be grown from seed with success.