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Ferocactus glaucescens

Ferocactus glaucescens, resized image

Brief Description

This page belongs to our "exotic pets and plants series" articles which do not focus on aquarium fish, but to other species that are often kept or grown by hobbyists. Feel free to share your experiences with this cactus at the bottom of this page!

Ferocactus glaucescens are a very popular addition to many cactus collections as they can be raised with little care and will in time produce a great display of flowers. Their spines are very uniform over the whole plant rather than producing a more random positioning of the spines which also adds to their appeal. They have a couple of common names but the most popular used seems to be the “Blue Barrel cactus” and they originate from Mexico where they prefer northern facing slopes in the mountain regions.

Older plants will produce several flowering heads, these produce yellow flowers prior to the berries afterwards which are normally white in colouration.The plant comprises of radial spines and can reach a size of up to 45 cm (17.71 inches) in diameter.

They tend to flower in early summer and unlike many other cactus species, the flowers are quite longstanding before they change into berries.

Like most cactus species they are very slow at developing when young plants or grown from seed so patience is required before you will get an established plant but the wait is well worth it. It is advised to keep this cactus in prepared cactus soil which has plenty of drainage if preparing your own mix then sand should be added with vermiculite or similar and during warmer periods they will require dosings of a quality cactus fertiliser to keep them at their best. If you are not an experienced cactus keeper and would not prefer to mix your own soil there are many commercial cactus mixes available.

They will not require any watering through the winter months and should only be watered sparingly during the summer months. Like many cactus if they are kept in a green house always check for red spider mites as they will feast on the flesh and if spotted should be treated as soon as possible.

There are a couple of methods for propagating this cactus, you can grow from seed quite easily or you can wait for the mother plant to produce basal shoots which can be separated and planted as a new plant.

If growing from seed you can plant the seeds in a pot containing a suitable cactus soil and cover the seed with a light coating of grit or vermiculite. The pot can then be placed into a heated propagator or in the greenhouse. If using a greenhouse cover the entire pot with a sheep of glass or perspex until the seed germinates, once this happens you should then remove the cover to give air circulation to the seedling. If propagating from a basal root or cutting you should allow these to dry out for a few days before re-planting, if you don’t you run the risk of these rotting before they get the chance to root.

There are suitable cactus fertilisers which will keep Ferocactus glaucescens in top health and in full growth but as with all treatments you must follow the recommended dosage and only apply to the cactus soil during the warmer months.

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