Caring for Your Potted Barrel Cactus

Barrel Cactus can be found in the deserts of California and Nevada. These plants thrive in dry, warm weather, and they can be cared for outside of a desert as long as the climate is near the same.

Remember to wear proper gardening gloves when handling a cactus because their prickly needles can enter your skin and cause irritation or infection.

Buy and Pot

Decide whether or not you want to buy barrel cactus seeds or a cactus that has already formed and grown. Make sure that the plant is healthy and does not have a lot of brown spots or markings. The plant should be sturdy and strong with no signs of wilting.

Determine the type of cactus you want by considering how large it will reach in height. A barrel cactus can range in size from a few inches to up to 10 feet tall, so find out which type will grow at an appropriate height for your home.

Once you have purchased your cactus, find a pot of the appropriate size to accommodate growth. Ask the garden shop which size is best for the cactus you are purchasing. You only need to re-pot the plant when it seems to be growing out of the pot. You do not need to do this on a given schedule.


Use a special cactus soil mix along with mixed course sand, perlite and garden soil. The barrel cactus thrives in the sun, but it will need to have shade as well. Put the cactus in a window or area where it will be able to get both.

Although the cactus likes the heat and sun, it does not like humidity. Only plant outdoors if you have a dry climate with low air moisture content. Fertilize with low nitrogen fertilizer at least every 4 months during the spring and fall.


These plants are designed for life in the desert, so they do not need to be moist and watered down. The best way to determine whether or not your cactus needs water is to push your finger about an inch into the soil. If the soil feels completely dry, you will then need to water the cactus. Make sure that the water drains through the soil properly. Otherwise, the roots of your plant could begin to rot.

A barrel cactus has desert appeal and grows colorful flowers that can contibute to the inviting atmosphere of any home. Properly caring for these plants will allow you to enjoy them for a long time.