Golden Barrel Cactus
Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit
Synonyms of Kroenleinia grusonii (3) (Updated on 12-9-20): Echinocactus corynacanthus Scheidw., Echinocactus galeottii Scheidw., Echinocactus grusonii Hildm.
Kroenleinia grusonii (Hildm.) Lodé appears to be the new scientific name for this species. The genus and species were named and described as such by Joël Lodé in International Cactus Adventures in 2014.
It was first named and described as Echinocactus grusonii Hildm. by Heinrich Hildmann in Deutsche Garten-Zeitung in 1886 and Monatsschrift für Kakteenkunde in 1891. Both publications are listed.
So many species of cactus have had MULTIPLE scientific names and have been moved in and out of various genera. Echinocactus grusonii was one of very few species that remained untouched since it was first named in 1886. Apparently, testing proved that Echinocactus grusonii was more closely related to the genus Ferocactus than Echinocactus so it was placed in its own genus. You can read what I found online by clicking HERE. Joël Lodé, who gave this species its new name, has quite a website that you can go to by clicking HERE.
The previous genus this species was in, Echinocactus Link & Otto, was named by Johann Heinrich Friedrich Link and Christoph Friedrich Otto and documented in 1827. The title of publication is quite long… Verhandlungen des Vereins zur Beförderung des Gartenbaues in den Königlich Preussischen Staaten 3.
Plants of the World Online previously listed only 6 accepted species of Echinocactus when I last updated this page on 10-27-19. Now there are 5 as of 12-9-20.
When this cactus was discovered, plants were dug by the thousands and sent to botanic gardens, palaces, and collectors throughout North America and Europe. Their native habitat is the Rio Moctezuma Valley in Mexico. In 1990, the area was scheduled to be flooded after a dam was built so a Mexican botanical garden removed them and other rare plants. Today, the Golden Barrel Cactus is one of the most common cactus in cultivation even though very few remain in the wild.
I bought my Golden Barrel Cactus from Wal-Mart on 2-1-16. Actually, I somehow bought two of them. They were in 2 1/2” (4 oz.) pots. The taller one measured approximately 2 1/2” tall x 2” wide and the shorter one approximately 2 1/8” tall x 2 1/4” wide. The label states:
“Drought tolerant when established. Rugged tolerance of the elements; yellow flowers appear at the crown. Needs well-draining soil. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Looks best with regular watering in hotter months.”
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
It is always strange to me how some critters, such as the crickets, always manage to chew on the cactus even though they have long spines. 2013 was probably the worse year for crickets and I had many succulents that were damaged in one night. I had to start moving them into the shed in the evening and back outside every morning for a while.
There is almost always something stuck in their thorns. Leaves, bugs, cat hair…
Zones: USDA ZONES 9A-11 (20-40° F)
*Light: Sun to part shade
***Water: Average during warmer months, sparse in winter
*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.
**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it…
I think a lot of growing tips online are written by people who never grew succulents and cactus. They just copy from one website and paste it to theirs. You have to sort of mimic the soil where species grow in their native habitat. For that, you almost have to go see for yourself… Typically, they grow in fairly rocky soil
***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside.
When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.
I like growing cacti because many are so amazing. Most of them grow very slowly so I measure them at least once a year.
Cactus are very easy to grow providing you follow a few basic rules. The main thing is probably the soil. They need soil that is fast draining and very porous. They have this weird root system under the plant that isn’t very large at all. Ideally, your pot shouldn’t be much bigger than the root system but where in the heck would you get a pot like that? For many years I used 2 parts of a good potting like Miracle Grow or Schultz with 1 part perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Many cactus and succulent growers recommend using pumice in place of perlite and grit, so I bought a bag from General Pumice online. I started using it late in 2018 and I have been happy with the results. I mix 50/50 with a good potting soil like Miracle Grow.
I moved the potted plants inside for the winter on October 17 (2017) which is a little earlier than last year. You need to check your plants over carefully before bringing them inside to make sure some critters aren’t coming in.
As with most cactus, they don’t require much water. I water my cactus along with my other potted plants when they are outside but I just go over them a little. During the winter, I hardly water them at all. Sometimes I may give them a light misting.
One thing is for sure, you don’t want to accidentally back into one of these. Handle with care!
The two Kroenleinia grusonii are doing quite well inside. We all miss being outdoors, but seeing the snow outside makes them thankful to be inside.
All the plants were glad when warmer temperatures stayed around so they could get back outside. I decided to name them “Greater” and “Lessor”.
I always kept most of the potted plants on tables next to a shed in “the other yard” (where my grandparent’s old house was). We had a really bad Japanese Beetle invasion in 2018 and the plants were under a Chinese Elm tree. The beetles love the leaves and were beginning to sample the plants. So, I moved the potted plants on the front and back porch of my house on July 4. I put most of the cactus on the back porch in full sun.
Moving the cactus to the back porch was a good idea because there are no crickets there either. The deck is at least 4′ above the ground. 🙂
Cooler weather came as usual and a frost was in the forecast so I moved the potted plants inside on 10-10-18. I always measure the cactus when I bring them inside. The Kroenleinia grusonii the Lesser measured 2 1/2″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide and Greater measured 2 7/8″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide. I measured them without the spines which are an additional 1 1/4″ long. Last year’s measurements included the spines… I re-potted these two plants before I brought them inside but somehow I forgot to take a photo of the Greater…
I took the cactus outside on November 29 for a photoshoot. We had a couple of spring-like days and I was wanting to do a post about the differences between the cactus in my collection.
Kroenleinia grusonii the Greater is still doing fine after the cricket damage from last May.
The Kroenleinia grusonii gives new meaning to “handle with care”. Its spines are long, very stiff, and sharp. Different varieties and forms of Kroenleinia grusonii have different sizes of spines. The only photos I have seen online of spines as long as mine is of the Kroenleinia grusonii var. albispinus which have white spines instead of yellow. Umm… The above photo looks like it has white spines, but in person, they look yellow. It makes me wonder, though. Hmmm… Of course, Kroenleinia grusonii var. albispinus is considered a synonym of the species now.
The top of the Kroenleinia grusonii is not one you would want to sit on. I read this cactus produces small flowers near the apex that can be hidden by the wool.
Most of the cactus are on the back porch enjoying their summer outside.
Once again “F” was in the forecast so I had to move the potted plants inside for the winter. As always, they are the comedians of my cactus companions. They always try to confuse me when I am measuring them. Occasionally, Lessor will stand on its toes and Greater will puff out its stomach. Their long thorns don’t make it any easier. Since last October, Greater has grown from 2 7/8″ tall x 2 1/2″ wide to 3″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide. It was 2 1/2″ tall x 2″ wide when I brought it home from Wal-Mart in February 2016. Lessor has grown from 2 1/2″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide last October to 2 7/8″ tall x 3″ wide. It was 2 1/8″ tall x 2 1/4″ wide when I brought it home the same day as Greater. Those measurements are without the spines…
I had to bring the potted plants inside for the winter on October 15 because an “F” was in the forecast. As always, I took photos and measurements. I always make jokes about these two characters because they are always joking around with me. Every time I measure them one is a little taller than the other and the other is a little wider. This year was different… When I measured them they were the same size. The green pot is a little shorter which might make the one on the left look shorter but their measurements were the same. This year they both measured 3 1/2″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide (without the spines). I am sure I must have screwed up…
I hope you found this page useful. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions I would like to hear from you. Please click on the “Like” below if you have visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. Be sure to click on the links below for further reading. Well, the links to the bottom of the page, besides Plants of the World Online, are all still likely to be for Echinocactus grusonii. It takes a while for everyone to catch up when names change. They do so periodically so maybe they want to make sure the change is permanent… Or at least for a while. 🙂 They can actually continue using the name Echinocactus grusonii since is a validly published scientific name. There is no law against it and they don’t have to agree with the name change.