Desert’s Blooming Jewel, Red Torch
(Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora)
Echinopsis huascha (F.A.C.Weber) H.Friedrich & G.D.Rowley is the correct and accepted name for this cactus. It was named and described as such by Heimo Friedrich and Gordon Douglas Rowley in ISO Bulletin in 1974. It was first named and described as Cereus huascha by Frédéric Albert Constantin Weber in Monatsschrift für Kakteenkunde (Berlin) in 1893.
My plants more resemble Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora as named by Britton & Rose, but that name was not validly published… (See Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) link at the bottom of the page).
Plants of the World Online lists 42 synonyms of Echinopsis huascha and one validly published infraspecific name. This species has been moved around a lot…
I bought these Echinopsis huascha from Lowe’s on clearance on September 21, 2018. The labels said they were Trichocereus grandiflorus Hybrids. When I checked with Plants of the World Online and Llifle, I found the name had changed. Plants of the World Online says Trichocereus grandiflorus is now a synonym of Echinopsis huascha. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) agreed but also listed three infraspecific names and another species in the Echinopsis huascha Group. Reading their descriptions, I find that the species and the other varieties have longer spines than the plant I brought home. The Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora has shorter spines like mine but that name and its description wasn’t validly published…
The label says:
Drought tolerant once established. Needs well-draining soil. Water thoroughly when soil is dry to the touch. Protect from frost to prevent possible scarring. Looks best with regular watering during the hotter months.
The above plant was growing in a 4 oz. (2 1/2” diameter x 2 1/4” tall) pot. The plant measures approximately 3” tall x 2” wide without the spines.
I also bought a cluster of cactus on clearance in a bulging 3.8 quart pot (8” diameter x 6 3/8”). There are 6 individual plants of varying sizes around the pot but the one that was in the center had died. I didn’t realize I had already selected the above cactus until I came home and read the label on the big pot… The label says the same thing with the addition of: Height: 18”+ Width: 12”. Temp.: 15° F.
Origin: Northwest Argentina
Zones: USDA Zones 9b-11 (25-40° F)
Size: Hmmm… Dave’s Garden says 24-36” but that is for the species. The other varieties grow much smaller.
Light: Full sun to light shade
Soil: Very well-draining soil. If grown in pots, use 2 parts potting soil with one part grit (chicken grit) and one part pumice or perlite.
Water: Average water needs during the growing period and sparsely from fall until spring.
Information from Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms), Echinopsis huascha are very easy plants to grow if you follow a few basic rules.
Growth: Echinopsis huascha can produce a noticeable amount of growth each year if kept fed and watered and grown in full sun. According to Llifle, “Once this cactus is established it can easily produce 10 cm of growth every year. Plants grown in the ground form soon imposing specimens.”
Light: This species prefers growing in full sun while outside. If you grow your plants inside (or inside for the winter) they need bright light and direct sun as much as possible.
Inside For The Winter: During the winter months, they should be sited in a cooler room in bright light. Water and fertilizer should be withheld to encourage dormancy. If you give them water and the light isn’t strong enough, plants will etiolate (stretch) and become thin. If grown inside over the winter, you should gradually introduce them to full sun gradually when you put them back outside for the summer.
Soil: As with all cactus, the Echinopsis huascha needs very well-draining soil. I use 2 parts of potting soil amended with 1 part chicken grit and 1 part pumice or perlite. Most cactus enthusiasts recommend pumice in place of perlite for MANY reasons. You can purchase a product called Dry Stall from a farm supply or feed store. It is pumice and very inexpensive compared to buying it online
Water: Llifle says, “Water the plants well and allow them to dry before watering again. This species seems to do better with a little more water than most cacti. In fact, its cultivation requirements are really more like ‘normal’ plants than most other cacti.”
Fertilization: During the growing season fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. I use a potting soil with timed-release fertilizer. Using pumice also adds nutrition to your plants. You can also use perlite with timed-release fertilizer but it only lasts a few months whereas pumice is permanent.
Pest and Diseases: Llifle says, “They are susceptible to fungal diseases if overwatered, but are not nearly as sensitive as many other cacti, especially in warm weather. They tend characteristically towards black rotted spots unless watering is moderate and only in hot weather, if kept damp through cold periods, they will invariably suffer.”
I moved all the potted plants inside on 10-10-18 because there was a chance of frost predicted in a few days. I re-potted several cactus that day including the big pot of Echinopsis huascha. Normally I keep the cacti in pots not much bigger than the base of the plant but I kept these five plants in a pot together and discarded the dead one that was in the center when I bought it. Of course, anyone would have probably done that. Since I had also purchased a smaller plant, I didn’t want seven individual plants.
I also put the smaller one in a larger pot with fresh potting soil. I had just received a bag of pumice so I used it in the mix. I just realized fall was a good time to re-pot cactus and succulents so their soil would stay nice and loose over the winter. After watering on a regular basis during the summer months, the potting soil can become very hard while not watering during the winter.
November 29 was a nice spring-like day so I took the cactus outside for a photo shoot. I was working on a new post comparing the different cactus in my collection. The six plants I put in this pot are all doing well. The largest plant in the center measures approximately 3″ tall x 2 3/4″ wide.
Echinopsis huascha is an upright or sprawling basally branching cactus that can grow up to 36″ tall. They are known for their beautiful flowers that grow about 4″ long and grow on top of the plant. Flowers can be yellow, orange, and red. Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora only produces red flowers.
The smaller Echinopsis huascha in its own pot still measures approximately 3″ tall x 2″ wide.
The species is “variable” and some photos show plants with longer spines. According to the Llifle (encyclopedia of Living Forms), the species can have spines as long as 5-6 cm., which is about 2-1 1/4″. Echinopsis huascha var. grandiflora grow shorter spines, around 1 cm., which is less than 1/4″. However, that infraspecific name isn’t accepted and is considered a synonym of Echinopsis huascha… At some point, I hope the botanists “in charge” of what is and isn’t accepted will realize the need to “accept” the many varieties, forms, etc. which further identifies the plants based on specific characteristics.
I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.