What Are Echinocereus Plants – Information On Echinocereus Cactus Care

What Are Echinocereus Plants – Information On Echinocereus Cactus Care

By: Tonya Barnett, (Author of FRESHCUTKY)

With their beautiful flowers and curious looking spines, it’s easy to see why so many people love to grow cacti. While some types of these succulent plants have very specific requirements, others are able to thrive in a wider range of growing conditions. Cacti, such as those within the genus Echinocereus, are ideal candidates for culture in containers, as well as great outdoor options for adding unique visual interest to flower beds, borders, and drought-tolerant landscapes.

What are Echinocereus Plants?

Echinocereus cacti are most often identified by their small stature. However, their diminutive size does not come without a multitude of advantages. Sometimes referred to as “hedgehog” cacti, plants seldom grow larger than 1 foot (30 cm.) tall and a few inches in diameter.

Echinocereus plant varieties are often characterized by their showy blooms, which range in color from red, yellow, and even bright pink. These flowers, in combination with varying spine patterns, allow gardeners great variety when choosing which types of Echinocereus to grow. With these wonderful characteristics, it is easy to see why many cactus-growers quickly become cactus “collectors.”

Growing Echinocereus Cacti

While it is a fairly common misconception that cacti can be difficult to grow, growing Echinocereus cacti is fairly easy. Unlike some plants, which can only be grown in frost-free climates, there are many types of Echinocereus which are tolerant to cold and freezing temperatures.

Though all Echinocereus cacti are in the same genus, cold tolerance can vary greatly. Researching types of plants which you plan to grow, as well as buying from reputable sources, will increase the likelihood of success when planting these cacti outdoors.

To ensure flowering, make certain that plants receive full sun (at least 6-8 hours each day). Plant the cactus in well-draining soil, and water only when necessary. Due to their succulent nature, cacti are excellent options for low-maintenance gardens or areas prone to periods of drought. For those who wish to grow Echinocereus in containers, well-draining potting mixes specifically suited for growing cacti and succulent plants is often available at local nurseries or home improvement stores.

Naturally, mature Echinocereus cacti grow to form mounds. These mounds can be divided, and individual “offsets” can be rooted as a means to propagate the plant. Echinocereus may also be grown from seed with success.

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Echinocereus rigidissimus (Arizona Rainbow Cactus)

Scientific Name

Echinocereus rigidissimus (Engelm.) F.Haage

Common Names

Arizona Rainbow Cactus, Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus, Sonorian Rainbow Cactus


Echinocereus rigidissimus subsp. rigidissimus, Echinocereus rigidissimus var. rigidissimus, Cereus pectinatus var. rigidissimus, Echinocereus pectinatus var. rigidissimus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Pachycereeae
Genus: Echinocereus


Echinocereus rigidissimus is a beautiful, usually solitary cactus, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and up to 4.4 inches (11 cm) in diameter, with pectinate radial spines curved slightly towards the stem. New spines are reddish to magenta and fades to a yellow or light pink when they mature. It blooms in flushes throughout the spring season, with multiple buds borne atop the plant from younger areoles. Flowers are bright pink with a white throat.


USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

If you can successfully grow other globular cactus, you can most likely grow Echinocereus well. One of the key factors in success with these is avoiding any hint of wet soil. Because their root systems are weak, they are especially prone to root rot, which will eventually kill your plant. Otherwise, they thrive on a program of strong, bright light, slight water and a steady diet of light fertilizer. These cacti are vulnerable to mealybugs and aphids.

Echinocereus are slow growing cacti that should only need repotting every other year or so. You can prolong the time to repotting by removing plantlets and potting them up in their own pots. When repotting a cactus, carefully remove it from its pot and knock away any clumped soil. These plants tend to be shallow-rooted with weak root systems, so take care not to damage their roots.


Echinocereus rigidissimus is native to Mexico (Chihuahua and Sonora) and United States (Arizona and New Mexico).

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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Echinocereus – Growing Sheet

Genus Echinocereus
Family Cactaceae
Habitat Mexico and in the south of United States
Cultivation Exposure in full sun, rather high temperatures, poor irrigation (once every 10-15 days): the growing needs of the Echinocereus are similar to the ones of other cacti, this is a family of very undemanding plants.
Curiosity The name is composed by two Latin words: Echinos, that means porcupine, and Cereus, a common and beautiful specie of columnar cacti. So the echinocereus is similar to a cereus, but more thorny.

The Echinocereus: key features

The Echinocereus are cacti with a cylindrical shape. Due to the fact that they have developed in a quite extensive environments with different climates, these plants vary from species to species. They sometimes grow lonely and sometimes develop into groups.

According to the species, the stems can have different aspects: can be columnar or sliding, more or less thorny, with ribs of different shapes. Usually, those with slow growth tend to be very thorny and to come together in bushes. The thorns may be of different type.

The flowers are large and showy, and have spectacular and varied colors: they go from all shades of green to yellow , but also some types of intense pink or red. The flowering usually lasts all summer.

Variety e Types

The genus Echinocereus includes many species that have developed at different altitudes and with different characteristics.

A curiosity: the Echinocereus fendleri is also called cactus-strawberry and has got eatable and tasty fruits.

Below a list of the species that are recognized until today:

Echinocereus rigidissimus crestato

Echinocereus rigidissimus rubrispinus

Echinocereus adustus
E. apachensis
E. baileyi
E. bonkerae

E. barthelowanus
E. berlandieri
E. brandegeei
E. bristolii
E. chaletii
E. chisoensis
E. chloranthus
E. cinerascens
E. coccineus
E. chrysocentrus
E. coccineus (even in the varieties of: inermis pulchellus: paucispinus, triglochidiatus)
E. ctenoides

E. dasyacanthus
E. delaetii
E. engelmannii
E. enneacanthus (even in the variety of sarissophorus)
E. fasciculatus
E. fendleri (even in the variety of rectispinus)
E. ferreirianus
E. flaviflorus
E. grandis (even in the variety of Isla san Esteban)
E. klapperi
E. knippelianus
E. Koerchersii
E. Kuenzleri

E. laui
E. leucanthus
E. lindsayi Meyran
E. lloydii
E. longisetus
E. mapimiensis
E. maritimus
E. matudae

E. nicholii
E. nivosus
E. ortegae
E. palmeri

E. pamanesiorum
E. papillosus
E. parkeri
E. pectinatus (even in the variety of crested)
E. pensilis
E. pentalophus
E. pleiogonus
E. plomosus

E. polyacanthus
E. poselgeri
E. primolanatus
E. pseudopectinatus
E. pulchellus
E. rayonesensis
E. reichenbachii (even in the varieties of: perbellus e perbellus purpureus)
E. rigidissimus (even in the varieties of: crested, rigidissimus crested, rubrispinus, rigidissimus rubrispinus)
E. × roetteri
E. russanthus
E. sarissophorus

E. scheeri (even in the variety of obscuriensis)
E. schereri
E. schmollii
E. sciurus
E. scopulorum
E. spinigemmatus
E. stoloniferus (even in the variety of crestatus)
E. stramineus
E. subinermis
E. triglochidiatus (even in the varieties of: mojavensis, mojavensis inermis e surnudus)
E. viereckii
E. viridiflorus
E. websterianus
E. yavapaiensis

Tips for growing

With little attention, your Echinocactus will give you great satisfaction.

  • The best exposure is usually in full sun, in the open air. Few species prefer places partially sunny.
  • Resistance to cold changes a lot depending on the species: those originating in the higher altitudes in fact, have a good resistance to cold (though perfectly dried, they hold temperatures just above 0 ° C), while those from lower altitudes have to remain above 7-8 ° C.
  • The watering must be scarce. It has to be done from March, after the plant buds are already developed, until October. It’s necessary a little wetting every 10-15 days.
  • It is recommended to use soil for cacti and the fertilizing has to be more or less scarce according to the species.
  • The speed of growth depends greatly on the species and as a consequence the need to repot. You should therefore check the specific needs of your plant and its size.

Reproduction occurs by seed mainly in some cases, however, the plant produces pollen that can be used as cuttings easily , with the only care to let the wound dry well (it can be necessary 2-3 days) before planting them in a sandy and moist soil.