The Ferocactus gracilis is commonly called the fire barrel cactus. It is native to Northwestern Mexico and is quite a stunning and striking cactus species. This cactus grows in the form of a large cylindrical stem that resembles a barrel.
The stem of Ferocactus gracilis can end up growing quite tall and usually has several ribs that further form spines of white, cream, red and orange, the latter of which give it a fire-like appearance. The flowers are also red and yellow in color, thus adding to this resemblance.
44 Types of Ferocactus Cacti [With Pictures]
How to Care For Ferocactus gracilis
If you also love the shape and size of this cactus and want to bring it home, invest in learning more about the fire barrel cactus because that will enable you to care for it well and keep it happy in the long run.
Ferocactus gracilis loves its time in the sun. You would need to ensure a steady supply of sunlight for the cactus because it will not thrive otherwise. Though the partial shade is not life-threatening, you need to keep the rest of its environment warm.
During the winter months, when there is no sunlight, you would have to make alternate arrangements such as grow lights while also protecting the plant from frost and mist.
A young fire barrel cactus will need a little more water and care as opposed to an old plant. Ferocactus gracilis, in general, does not require a lot of water. Thanks to the shape of its leaves, the cactus is efficient in storing water and can go on for prolonged periods sans any addition.
Water them regularly during the growing season i.e. between spring and fall. In the winter months when the temperatures are falling, its watering needs reduce drastically.
As a rule of thumb, you should only water the plant when the topsoil layer has completely dried out. Otherwise, the soil may get soggy and too moist and this can be harmful to Ferocactus gracilis.
Well-drained soil is the best companion of the Ferocactus gracilis. The container you are planting it in should have ample drainage holes at the bottom to allow water to pass. Regular cacti mix should work well for this and if you want to create your soil, take 45% pumice, 40-45% compost and sand together to make a healthy potting mix.
While you are at it, you could also add some decomposed granite and pebbles around the pot to mimic its natural habitat. It is also pleasing to the eye.
Since it is a desert cactus, Ferocactus gracilis enjoys dry, arid climates. It is frost-sensitive and doesn’t take well to cold temperatures. In short, if you want to bring this home, you need to create desert-like conditions for it to thrive.
Ferocactus gracilis grows well in areas that aren’t very fertile and are low on nutrients. This makes it desirable because there ain’t a lot of maintenance required.
This means there aren’t aggressive fertilizer needs that you need to meet should you get this cactus home. However, you can go for one cycle of fertilizing before the growing season to aid its growth. A fertilizer that is low in hydrogen once a year will work just fine.
How to Propagate Ferocactus gracilis
Propagating Ferocactus gracilis is fairly easy. Once you have done the hard work, you can simply sit back and relax because the fire barrel cactus doesn’t have a lot of maintenance needs.
- Step 1: Prepare the soil at home by taking sand, perlite and compost so that the soil is well-draining. Alternatively, you can even go with a cacti potting mix. Add a very small amount of fertilizer but don’t go overboard.
- Step 2: Take a small cutting from the main stem and place it in the potting mix.
- Step 3: Keep the soil moist and let the fire barrel cactus grow. You will need to be patient because these are slow-growing cacti.
Once you have propagated the cuttings, do not water the container for at least a week or two. This is to give the cactus a near-native growing environment. Also, do not expose the container to harsh sunlight at the very outset. Partial shade or bright (not scorching) sunlight is ideal.
Sometimes people also propagate it with seeds but cuttings work better.