Echinocereus (ek-in-oh-KER-eeus) is a ribbed, cylindrical cactus plant and member of the Cactaceae and Echinocereus group.
The name of the crop derives from the Greek word ‘ echinos ‘ meaning porcupine.
The plant is native to Mexico and the South West of the United States. It is a large species of varieties with different growths and flowering patterns.
Generally speaking, you can divide the plant into two main species.
The well flowering species and the globular species more well known for their spines.
Plants such as:
- Echinocereus berlandierii
- Echinocereus salmianus
- Echinocereus scheerii
- Echinocactus grusonii (Golden Barrel cactus)
Are part of flowering plants with exquisite blooms varying from purple-reddish to pinkish-purple in colour.
Plants such as:
- Echinocereus knippelianus
- Echinocereus pulchellus
- Echinocereus subinermis
Are the more globular varieties with flowers that range widely from pink and white to grayish-blue and yellow.
Echinocereus can easily live for years (similar to the Cephalocereus Old Man Cactus) and are good to go all year around. This makes them incredibly beautiful choices for houseplants.
Hedgehog Cactus Care
Size and Growth
Unlike its cousin plants, which require a lot of effort to grow and take care of, Echinocereus cacti rarely grows above a foot tall and only a few inches wide.
They have a generally slow growth rate.
Echinocereus is a great houseplant, but it is best grown alongside other cacti to help it flower its best.
Flowering and Fragrance
Echinocereus appears in many variations in different colours, shapes and sizes.
These are once again divided into three categories.
- Ones with attractive flowers
- Ones with attractive spines
- Globular ones with fewer spines
Most Echinocereus have big flowers and green stigma lobes. They flower most in the spring but are vulnerable to intermittent development outbursts at other times of the year.
The flowers bloom for about a week and have no scent.
They are interesting due to the fact of how they open during the day and close at night.
Several types, though, may be nocturnal. Plants that are not in well-lit conditions may have trouble blooming.
Light and Temperature
This cactus is a light-loving plant and should be put in a position where there is plenty of sunshine, such as a west-facing window.
These plants can take full sun and thrive in it as long as they get enough water.
Make sure that during the winter months, the plants are given a bright, cool, and frost-free home. Echinocereus is generally good at tolerating colder temperatures up to around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water and Feeding
The water and feed requirements for each variety will be different. The hairy and spiny variety is best kept on the drier side, even in summer months because they are very sensitive to overwatering.
Saturating them in water can lead to crown and root rot – especially in the winter months.
On the other hand, green and less spiny varieties require lots of water. Even then, make sure to let the soil dry out between watering.
Watering every two weeks is a good rule of thumb to go by.
A regular dose of distilled cactus fertilizer should help the crop thrive during the summer months.
Soil and Transplanting
Although this plant is capable of handling richer soils, it is best to use typical cactus soil for the best results.
Repot the plant only when it outgrows its previous pot. This happens about every year.
When repotting, take extra care not to damage the plant’s roots as they are shallow rooted and damage quite easily.
Grooming and Maintenance
The plant is generally easy to care of and does not require a lot of grooming or maintenance.
How to Propagate Echinocereus Cacti
Propagating Echinocereus relies on the diversity of the crop.
The clumping variety is best propagated by removing offsets. Once the stem has been removed, let the cut dry for a few days before planting in moist cactus soil.
Keep it warm and minimally moist until it roots.
Seeds may be planted in the spring in sandy soil.
Once they have been planted, keep them warm and moist until they root. It’s important to keep in mind that it may take a long time for these plants to germinate – almost two weeks. Patience is key!
Echinocereus Pest and Disease Problems
This form of cactus is vulnerable to scale insects and mealy bugs.
These problems are relatively easy to solve. Carefully remove them with a toothpick and make sure to wipe down the plant gently.
There is also a chance of taking root mealy bugs. These are tiny insects that drink up the plant juices out of the roots, causing the plant to turn pale.
Repot the plant in fresh soil and water with an insecticide (such as neem oil) to prevent further attacks.
Suggested Echinocereus Uses
Thanks to their stunning appearance and simple design, these plants are perfect for having them as part of a larger cacti garden.
They even make attractive, no-nonsense houseplants, given the right conditions for their growth.