These kinds of cactus plants develop a globe or half globe shape when young. When we say young, we mean less than twenty years old, if it makes that far. These kinds of cactus plants can grow to be 30 inches (76.2cm) wide and still maintain a globular shape. However, in cultivation, You’ll not likely see one more than 15 inches wide.
In habitat, from 20 to 100 years of growth they become columnar. The thick barrels may grow straight up or fall down then curl upwards like a banana. Just to get our fish story on, the largest barrel cactus is Echinocactus platyacanthus. It can grow to be 10 feet (3 meters) tall and 30 inches (76.2cm) thick. Next in line would be Ferocactus diguetii, which can have very similar dimensions, but not quite as thick. However, some of the other barrel cacti can grow to be quite tall: Ferocactus gracilis, F. cylindraceus, and F. wislizeni can all grow to be well over 7 feet tall. If you are ever vacationing in the south west, San Diego or Tucson are probably your chance locations to see these gigantic beauties in a one day drive. From San Diego you can see the tallest F. cylindraceus in Anza Borrego State Park. In a two day drive with passport in hand you can see very tall Ferocactus gracilis along the Baja Peninsula south of the border. If you are in Tucson, you can drive to either of the Saguaro National Parks to see gigantic Ferocactus wislizeni all shapes and forms.
Barrel cacti have ribs that expand when it is full of water and contract when no water has been provided for long periods of time. We will suggest several species of barrel cactus that are easy to grow.
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