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Growing Echinocereus PDF Print E-mail

Echinocereus Cacti

Echinocereus cacti are native to the Western USA states and Mexico where the land is quite arid and the daytime temperatures are high.They tend to be fairly short growing plants with cylindrical stems which are occasionally branched. They are upright growing plants but may occasionally grow sideways with the top half looking as though it is wilting, this is less common that the upright growth.

Echinocereus scheerii

All of the Echinocereus cactus have large and showy flowers which are usually purple through pale pink but one or two have crimson flowers and make an excellent addition to any collection.

This is Echinocereus scheerii which is a typical type

Growing Requirements


The desert in Mexico can become very cold during the winter nights, often it will fall below freezing without harming the plants as it is also very dry. When growing at home it is best to avoid any frost as you may lose the plant but during the winter the temperature can be as low as 2C without any harm so long as the compost is dry.

During the summer it is best to keep the plants outside where the temperature can rise to over 30C with no harm to the plant. If kept in a greenhouse you will need to watch the temperature as under glass it can rise dramatically particularly if the windows and vents remain closed. Echinocereus scherii gentrii

Pot Type

Echinocerues cactus are best grown in a terracotta type pot which should have at least one drainage hole in the base and it should be unglazed. This type of pot allows good drainage and allows the compost (therefor roots) to breath. Compost

Echinocereus prefer an open and free draining compost which should consist of:

  • 1 part John Innes no. 1 compost
  • 1 part peat or coir based compost
  • 1 part sharp sand or grit
  • 1/2 part broken crock pieces (small)


The plants should be kept almost completely dry during the winter months, only water them to prevent the roots from completely drying out, once a month should be fine. From March onwards the plant will begin to grow and watering should be increased gradually until late May when the plant should be in full growth. As the compost is very free draining and the pot used is porous you can safely water this type of cactus at least once a week during the summer so long as the plant pot is allowed to drain and not sit in a tray of water. During hot weather you may need to water the plants once a day so long as the plant is actively growing. From late September watering should be reduced to force the plant to go in to a state of semi dormancy, by November you should be back in to the winter watering regime.


Grow Echinocereus cacti in full sun during the summer and winter, if kept too dark they may become overly lush and could be prone to rotting due to over watering, they will also be shy to produce flowers.


If the compost is fresh then feeding may not be necessary at all, if the plant hasn't been repotted recently then half strength general purpose fertilizer can be used at watering time from May onwards once a month. Do not feed the plants from September onwards as this can cause lush growth which can be fatal during the darker cold months.


Repotting should be done every other year or every three years, annual potting is not necessary. Remove the plant from its put by wrapping newspaper around the stem if it is very spiny. Carefully tap it out of the pot and remove the old compost to examine the roots, if any are damaged or showing signs of rotting they should be removed as close to the plant as possible.Re plant the cactus using the same mix of compost as it was originally in (fresh) and use a pot just slightly wider then the width of the cactus. Do not be tempted to over pot as this will cause the unused compost to go stagnant and you may lose the plant.


See propagation section for seed sowing and cuttings.

 Site by Les Pickin
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