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Yes, it’s the cactus that most people will recognise as the golden barrel cactus, with the golden referring to the yellowish colouration of those very prickly spines. Echinocactus Grusonii is pretty much globe-shaped in its early years, becoming wider and sometimes more cylindrical as it matures, when it will produce bright yellow flowers in summer. Bigger specimens look good when grown in a wide bowl or pan. Gets big in the wilds of Mexico, where it is now in fact endangered, but it will stay manageable indoors in the UK. A classic. Bright position. Well drained soil. 24 in max. Pot sizes: 1 litre (13cm) and 2 litre (17 cm).


Pot size:

In these more politically and socially correct days, it is less common to hear this cactus referred to as mother-in-law's cushion, but that name does hint at quite how spiky this fellow is. Just don't pick a fight with him. If you do need to handle the plant directly, as when potting up, the trick is to fold a newspaper lengthwise several times to create a tool to hold it. You can buy special cactus tongs for this purpose, but that's for the serious cactushead.

Echinocactus Grusonii was first recognised and named in the late nineteenth century and immediately became popular as a specimen in botanic gardens and nurseries across North America and Europe. So many plants were dug up in habitat for this purpose that it was already endangered within years of being discovered, which doesn't say much for environmental awareness in the late Victorian era.

Care is as per normal for cacti kept indoors: water, say, once a week spring to autumn and not at all over the winter (keeping relatively cool but frost free in winter is a good way to encourage flowering the following summer). Use sharply draining compost if potting up.

Echinocactus Grusonii is a spherical to cylindrical cactus with sharp golden yellow spines and yellow flowers in summer suitable for a bright position indoors.

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