Echinocactus grusonii var. intermedius
E. grusonii is native to Mexico Northeast but the intermedius variety has garden origin.
E. grusonii var. intermedius is a rare succulent belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant is globular and tends to be solitary. The stem is spherical but in maturity become cylindrical and starts to offset. The stem is pale green and arranged in many ribs made of tubercles. Each tubercle bears many areoles on which long pointed yellowish spines are inserted. Blooming occurs from early spring to the late summer and blossom are borne only by mature specimens. The flowers are yellow, diurnal and very small. The intermedius variety has the spines of intermediate in length between the standard type and the short-spined type Echinocactus grusonii var. brevispinus
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 8°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting, by seed or by grafting. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°. By grafting make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.
The name Echinocactus comes from the Latin Echinos, that means porcupine: it is a cactus full of long, evident thorns, light yellow just like some of the porcupine spines. Due to its barrel shape and for its yellow spines the plant is commonly called Golden Barrel.
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