All You Need to Know about Red barrel cactus

The Red barrel cactus, scientific name Ferocactus cylindraceus, is a species of cactus native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico.

These cacti are adapted to arid environments and can be found in desert regions, particularly in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and California in the United States, as well as in Baja California and Sonora in Mexico. They often grow in rocky or sandy soils, on slopes, and in canyons.

How to grow and take care of Red barrel cactus?

Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) is a popular cactus species known for its round, barrel-shaped body and bright red spines. Here are some tips on how to grow and take care of this cactus:

  1. Soil: Red barrel cactus thrives in well-draining soil. Use a cactus mix or make your own by combining equal parts of perlite, sand, and potting soil.
  2. Watering: Water the cactus deeply, but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. In the summer, you may need to water it once a week, while in the winter, once a month is enough. Avoid overwatering as it can cause root rot.
  3. Light: Red barrel cactus prefers bright, direct sunlight. Place it near a sunny window or outdoors in a sunny spot. If growing indoors, rotate the cactus occasionally to ensure all sides receive equal sunlight.
  4. Temperature: Red barrel cactus is a desert plant that thrives in hot, dry conditions. It can tolerate temperatures up to 90°F (32°C) during the day and down to 50°F (10°C) at night. Keep it away from cold drafts or air conditioning vents.
  5. Fertilizer: Feed the cactus once a month during the growing season (spring and summer) with a cactus fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to half strength and apply it to damp soil.
  6. Pruning: Red barrel cactus doesn’t require much pruning. You can remove any dead or damaged branches using a clean, sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears.
  7. Propagation: You can propagate Red barrel cactus by taking stem cuttings. Wait until the cuttings have calloused over before planting them in well-draining soil. Water sparingly until new growth appears.

By following these tips, you can enjoy a healthy and vibrant Red barrel cactus in your home or garden.

What is the lifespan of Red barrel cactus?

On average, a Red barrel cactus can live for around 50 to 60 years or more in the wild. In cultivation, with proper care and maintenance, they can live for a similar period of time. Some well-cared-for specimens have been known to survive for over a century.

It’s worth noting that cacti, in general, have slow growth rates and are slow to mature, so patience is key when growing them.

How to water it?

When watering a Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes), it’s essential to follow a few guidelines to ensure that you don’t overwater or underwater the plant, which can cause damage or even death. Here are some tips on how to water your Red barrel cactus:

  1. Water deeply but infrequently: When you water your cactus, make sure to water it deeply so that the water reaches the roots. However, you don’t want to water it too frequently, as this can lead to overwatering and root rot. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
  2. Use the right amount of water: The amount of water you use will depend on the size of your cactus and the environment in which it’s growing. As a general rule, water the cactus until the soil is damp but not waterlogged. If you’re not sure how much water to use, it’s better to err on the side of underwatering.
  3. Water at the right time: The best time to water your Red barrel cactus is in the morning, when the temperature is cooler and the sun is not as strong. Avoid watering at night, as this can lead to fungal growth and other issues.
  4. Use the right watering technique: When watering your cactus, use a watering can with a long spout to direct the water at the base of the plant, avoiding the spines. Alternatively, you can use a hose with a gentle spray nozzle.
  5. Adjust watering frequency based on the season: In the summer, you may need to water your cactus once a week or more, depending on the weather conditions. In the winter, you can water less frequently, perhaps once a month or less.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your Red barrel cactus receives the right amount of water to thrive and stay healthy.

How to prune it?

Pruning a Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) is a relatively simple process. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Wear protective gear: Before pruning your cactus, make sure to wear gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection to avoid getting pricked by the spines.
  2. Assess the plant: Look over the cactus and identify any damaged or diseased branches, as well as any branches that are growing in an awkward or unsightly manner. These are the branches you’ll want to prune.
  3. Sterilize your pruning tool: Use a sharp, clean pair of scissors, pruning shears, or a sharp knife to prune the cactus. It’s important to sterilize your tool with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to prevent the spread of disease.
  4. Cut the branch: Once you’ve identified the branch you want to prune, make a clean cut as close to the base of the branch as possible. Avoid cutting into the healthy tissue of the plant.
  5. Dispose of the cuttings: Dispose of the cuttings carefully, as they are still covered in spines. Use tongs or gloves to handle them and dispose of them in a trash bag or container.
  6. Monitor the plant: After pruning, monitor the plant for any signs of infection or damage. If you notice any issues, take action to address them.

By following these steps, you can prune your Red barrel cactus and keep it looking healthy and attractive.

How big does Red barrel cactus grow?

The Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) is a slow-growing cactus that can eventually reach a considerable size. On average, Red barrel cacti can grow to be around 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) tall and 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) wide.

However, some specimens can grow to be much larger, with heights of up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) or more and diameters of up to 4 feet (1.2 meters). The growth rate of a Red barrel cactus depends on various factors such as the growing conditions, availability of nutrients, and water. It’s worth noting that these cacti grow relatively slowly, and it can take several years or even decades for them to reach their maximum size.

Which soil is the best for growing it?

Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) grows best in well-draining soil that is specifically designed for cacti and succulents. Here are some tips on choosing the right soil for your Red barrel cactus:

  1. Look for a soil mix specifically for cacti and succulents: These soil mixes are designed to provide good drainage, which is crucial for preventing root rot in cacti.
  2. Ensure the soil is well-draining: Red barrel cacti prefer soil that drains well, so make sure the soil mix you choose contains materials like perlite, coarse sand, or gravel to improve drainage.
  3. Choose a soil with a slightly acidic pH: Red barrel cacti prefer a soil pH that is slightly acidic, between 6.0 and 7.0.
  4. Avoid soils that retain moisture: Cacti do not like to sit in wet soil, so avoid soil mixes that retain moisture for too long, such as those that contain peat moss or compost.
  5. Consider adding organic matter: While cacti do not need a lot of organic matter in their soil, adding a small amount of compost or worm castings can help improve soil fertility and structure.

Overall, the key to growing a healthy Red barrel cactus is to provide it with well-draining soil that is specifically designed for cacti and succulents. Additionally, make sure to water the cactus properly and provide it with adequate sunlight and protection from extreme temperatures.

Where can I buy it?

You can buy Red barrel cactus (Ferocactus acanthodes) from a variety of sources, including local nurseries, garden centers, or online plant retailers. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Local nurseries or garden centers: Check with your local nurseries or garden centers to see if they carry Red barrel cacti. This can be a great option if you want to see the plant in person before buying it.
  2. Online plant retailers: There are many online plant retailers that sell Red barrel cacti, such as Amazon, Etsy, or specialized cactus and succulent stores. When buying online, make sure to read reviews and check the seller’s reputation before making a purchase.
  3. Cactus and succulent shows or sales: Many cities and towns host cactus and succulent shows or sales, where you can find a wide variety of cacti for sale, including Red barrel cacti. Check with your local plant societies or garden clubs to see if there are any upcoming events in your area.

When buying a Red barrel cactus, make sure to choose a healthy plant with no signs of disease or damage. Also, be aware that Red barrel cacti are relatively slow-growing, so you may need to be patient as your plant grows and matures.


  • Red barrel cactus is a slow-growing cactus that can eventually reach a considerable size, up to 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
  • Red barrel cactus requires well-draining soil that is specifically designed for cacti and succulents, with a slightly acidic pH.
  • When watering a Red barrel cactus, it’s important to allow the soil to dry out between waterings to prevent overwatering.
  • Red barrel cactus requires plenty of sunlight and protection from extreme temperatures.
  • Pruning a Red barrel cactus is relatively simple and involves sterilizing your pruning tool, identifying damaged or diseased branches, and making clean cuts close to the base of the branch.
  • You can buy Red barrel cactus from local nurseries or garden centers, online plant retailers, or cactus and succulent shows or sales.

By following these tips and providing your Red barrel cactus with the right growing conditions and care, you can enjoy a healthy and attractive plant for many years to come.

Have a nice day!

Ari Iniesta

Ari Iniesta

Total posts created: 199
Hello fellow succulent enthusiast! My name is Ari Iniesta, and I'm a succulent enthusiast. I was born and raised in a small town in southern Spain, where the warm climate and dry conditions allowed me to develop a love for plants that are able to thrive in harsh environments. As I got older, my interest in succulents only grew stronger. I began to study horticulture and botany, and I even started my own collection of rare and exotic succulents from around the world.

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