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The Golden barrel cactus is the most popular barrel-type cactus planted in Inland Empire landscapes and gardens. It grows with 20-40 pronounced vertical ribs, spherical shape and colorful blond to golden colored spines. It often reaches 18-30 in. in dia.; older plants will grow larger as well as produce offsets that result in clumps containing several plants growing 5-6 ft. across.

Golden barrel cactus is native to central Mexico where it is well adapted to warm and sunny climate conditions and periods of extended drought. In landscapes and gardens it needs good soil drainage to avoid rotting and will grow quicker when provided with monthly summer water. It is widely used in containers, for mass plantings and as an accent feature around rocks.

Water Needs

Golden barrel cactus is well adapted to all parts of the Inland Empire in sunny exposures with normal winter rains and low amounts of summer irrigation. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains often provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates Golden barrel cactus can grow with varying amounts of water; little supplemental water is needed during summer..

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Low Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 1

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 0x to 2x 0x to 2x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 0" to 2" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 0" to 2" 0" to 2"

Range of supplemental summer water: 7"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-10"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Cacti
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Symmetrical, Solitary, Compact, Clumping
Growth Rate: Slow
Height: 12 in. - 24 in.
Width: 18 in. - 30 in.
Water Needs: Low 1
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Summer
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure Adaptations: Wind, Heat, Drought, Aridity, All day sun
Function: Specimen, Rock gardens, Residential spaces, Raised planters, Mass planting, Grouped, Foliage accent plant, Container plant, Borders, Banks


Offsets (small new plants emerging near the base) can be removed any time to clean up the look, prevent over crowding, or to plant elsewhere or in pots to have additional plants (D,S)



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