Arizona Cactus Varieties & How to Care for Arizona Barrel Cactus

Arizona Cactus Varieties & How to Care for Arizona Barrel Cactus

Arizona Barrel Cactus – Arizona’s desert habitats are diverse, ranging from frigid high-desert mountains in the north to subtropical desert lowlands in the south. Each environment supports a diverse range of cacti species, and each ecosystem is unique in its own way (Cactaceae, or cactus family).

Although the native cacti of Arizona differ widely in appearance, they have all developed similar characteristics to enable them to survive in such a severe climate. These characteristics include water-retentive tissue, protective spines, and effective root systems.

Arizona Cactus Plants Variety

Arizona Barrel Cactus Flower Plants

Prickly Pear in a Vibrant Purple

Prickly pears (Opuntia gosseliniana) are found across southern Arizona, although they are most common in the dry, lowland areas of Pima County. The plant is named for the purplish-pink hue of the pads on its stems. It is similar in appearance to other prickly pear cultivars in that it has a spreading shrub-like habit and produces spine-covered, paddle-like leaves.

If left alone, it may reach a height of 2 to 4 feet and a spread of 6 feet. It was often believed that the violet coloring of this plant was a response to environmental stress, but it is really a defense strategy designed to keep grazing animals away from it.

The Iconic Saguaro (Saguaro Cactus)

The saguaro cactus (Carbonaria gigantea) is a genuine emblem of the Arizona desert, distinguished by its towering height and branching structure. Saguaros grow slowly, putting up a single, 2-foot-wide column laced with clusters of 2-inch-long spines while they are young. They may grow to be between 15 and 50 feet tall, depending on the variety.

Saguaros do not begin to generate their distinctive arms until they are 50 years old, and they may produce as many as five arms throughout the course of a plant’s existence. A 3-foot-long tap root and multiple branching capillary roots help this species maintain its stability in rocky soil, despite its enormous height.

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Arizona Barrel Cactus in the wild

The Golden Hedgehog Cactus (Cactus with a golden hue)

The golden hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus nicholii) is a species of cactus that may be found in northern Mexico and southern Arizona, mostly in Pima County. The golden hedgehog cactus, so named because of its pale-yellow spines, is a tiny, spreading species with up to 20 2-foot-tall stems laced with unusually thick, 3-inch-long spines that are organized into rosette patterns on the underside.

Because of the density of its spines, the pale-green meat of this species is difficult to perceive, unless the plant is very young. This cactus produces a crop of waxy lavender or scarlet blooms in the middle of spring, which develop into tiny, red fruits in the late summer and early fall.

The Most Popular Arizona Barrel Cactus

The Arizona barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni) is a cactus that originated in the Sonoran desert and has since spread across the southwestern United States. This plant, which gets its name from its thick, round shape, grows to be between 3 and 6 feet tall and has a diameter of 24 inches when fully grown. With clusters of hooked spines along its ribs, the flesh of the Arizona barrel cactus is deeply ribbed and olive-green in color, and it has a scaly appearance.

It may be found in locations where there is frequent flooding because it can quickly absorb and store available moisture, which can then be used during dry seasons. Arizona barrel cacti develop many reddish-orange blooms on their southeastern sides in the middle of summer, which serve as a favored source of nectar for pollinating insects such as cactus bees and other beneficial insects.

Caring Arizona Barrel Cactus indoors

The Teddy Bear Cholla Cacti

The fluffy look of the teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) gained it the nickname “teddy bear cholla.” Its downy coating of thick spines, on the other hand, is not as soft to the touch as that of its namesake. The teddy bear cholla, which may be found in low desert flatlands across the American Southwest, flourishes on rocky, well-draining soil at altitudes below 300 feet in Arizona and other states.

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It is a tall, single-trunked plant with multiple bending branches coated in silvery-white spines that grow in a clump at the base of the trunk. The highest branches of teddy bear cholla are often light beige in color, while the trunk and lower branches are typically reddish-brown or bronze in color, depending on the variety. This plant produces chartreuse blooms on the tops of its branches from late April to June, which are appealing to nectar-feeding birds and insects since they are 4 inches across.

Growing Arizona Barrel Cactus in pots

Learn How to Grow an Arizona Barrel Cactus

The Arizona barrel cactus (Ferocactus wislizeni) is also known as the “fish hook barrel cactus,” which is an apt nickname given to the cactus’ fearsome hook-like spines that cover its whole surface. The compass barrel cactus, sometimes known as the candy barrel cactus, is an amazing specimen.

The Arizona barrel cactus is native to deserts in the American Southwest and Mexico. The Arizona barrel cactus is appropriate for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 12 in the United States. Continue reading to find out how to cultivate an Arizona barrel cactus.

The skin of the fishhook cactus is thick, leathery, and green, and it has noticeable ridges. In the spring or late summer, cup-shaped yellow or red blooms with crimson cores develop in a ring around the top of the cactus, followed by yellow, pineapple-like berries.

Golden Barrel Cactus 015
Golden Barrel Cactus 015

The Arizona barrel cactus has a typical lifespan of 50 years, although it has been known to live for as long as 130 years. Because of this, the cactus often leans to the southwest, and older cacti may ultimately collapse if they are not maintained.

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Although the Arizona barrel cactus may grow to be more than 10 feet (3 meters) tall, it usually only reaches a maximum height of 4 to 6 feet (1-2 meters).

Due to the huge demand for real desert landscaping, it is common practice to ruffle this gorgeous and distinctive cactus, which means that it is illegally taken from its native habitat.

How to Grow Arizona Barrel Cactus

Providing lots of bright sunshine and gritty, well-drained soil for Arizona barrel cactus isn’t difficult if you have the correct conditions in place. Similarly, there is no involvement in the care of Arizona barrel cactus. To get you started, here are a few barrel cactus maintenance suggestions:

  • Only trust a reputable nursery when purchasing Arizona barrel cactus. Due to the plant’s popularity on the illicit market, be cautious when purchasing it from unknown sources.


  • Early April is the best time to plant Arizona barrel cactus. It is natural for the roots to be a bit dry and shriveled, so don’t be alarmed about it. To prepare the soil for planting, add sufficient quantities of pumice, sand, or compost before you begin.
  • After planting, be sure to give it plenty of water. Following that, Arizona barrel cacti only need extra water on rare occasions when the weather is exceptionally hot and dry. Despite the fact that it thrives in non-freezing areas, this barrel cactus is drought resistant to a certain extent.
  • Fine pebbles or gravel may be used to mulch around the cactus to keep it looking its best. Water should be withheld totally throughout the winter months; the Arizona barrel cactus requires a time of dormancy. The barrel cactus in Arizona does not need any fertilizer.