Echinocactus Grusonii

Golden Barrel Cactus

The golden barrel cactus is a globe shaped type cacti suitable for growing in conservatories, on patios or any other type of indoor glass rooms.

When I first discovered this plant that also has the common name of mother-in-law's cushion, I had to laugh after imagining someone wishing their mother-in-law would sit on it (some people must have terrible mother-in-law's).

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The barrel cactus is primarily suited for growing in garden rockery settings, desert type landscapes, patios and botanical gardens. They are grown indoors inside conservatories or other glass rooms where enough sunlight is provided. However, they seem to have great difficulty flowering indoors.

How they look: The globular shaped stem can grow up to 60 inches tall and 36 inches wide in the wild, or where they are given conditions similar to the natural Mexican habitat. This stem is ribbed and produces prickly yellowish spines (there is also a spineless type), and the crown of the cactus has white colored woollen hairs at the top.

Flowering: The golden barrel cacti will produce yellow flowers during mid-summer, although these are unlikely to appear indoors. These are grown mainly for the foliage rather than flowers; for the desert look that's appealing to cactus growers and collectors.

Growing and care: The Echinocactus grusonii is fairly quick growing at first; then the growth rate slows right down. So you can expect to wait about 10 years for the cactus to reach 10 inches in diameter. Like most cacti they're drought tolerant and need very little care and attention to grow well. Not enough sunlight and over-watering are common mistakes. When handling, it's best to use gloves to protect your hands from the prickly spines.


Origin: Mexico.
Names: Golden barrel cactus , golden ball cactus, mother-in-law's cushion (common). -- Echinocactus Grusonii (botanical/scientific).
Max Growth (approx): Height 60in (24cm). Diameter 36in (91cm).
Poisonous for pets: Not known.

Picture of cacti

Crown of The Barrel Cacti

Picture of the Crown

Spineless Type

Spineless Type

Golden Barrel Care

Temperature: Temperatures averaging 50°F/10°C - 75°F/23.8°C are ideal but not below 40°F/5°C and avoid frost.
Light: Plenty of sunshine will keep this cacti more than happy. In a glass room you may have to provide some shade during a hot summers day to prevent sunburn.
Watering: From spring until fall; water similar to many other house plants by watering when the soil begins drying. Before and during winter barely water the plant. Overwatering, especially when the temperature becomes cold can rot this species.
Soil: A pot mixture used for cactus plants that drains well will suffice. Adding gravel or small pebbles at the bottom first few inches of the pot will encourage drainage.
Re-Potting: When they are young and growing it's best to re-pot these once a year; during spring in a slightly bigger container. Once they mature re-pot maybe every 2 - 3 years or when necessary.
Fertilizer: Feed every 4 weeks with a high potassium fertilizer during summer.
Humidity: Humidity does not seem to be a major concern for the Echinocactus grusonii, which makes the average indoor environment fine, as it is. Provide as much fresh air as you can , but not cold drafts.
Propagation: These are propagated with seeds once it fruits after flowering.
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