Golden Barrel Cactus is one of the rare natural plants that grows in a near perfectly rounded shape. Beginning at a size as small as a golf ball in nurseries, this plump golden cactus can grow to enormous sizes of three feet in diameter. With its golden spines spaced evenly around its ridges, it’s a truly beautiful and orderly plant. As a houseplant, which is what Golden Barrel, also known as Mother In Law’s Cushion and Golden Ball, this cactus will not get as big as it might outdoors, but a smaller size will not take away from the stuffing look of this cactus.
Golden Barrel, Echinocactus Grusonii in scientific and horticultural circles, is perfect for beginners, as most cacti are. They are drought tolerant and they have no humidity needs. The biggest danger with cacti is over watering them as they are susceptible to root rot. Root rot is caused when the base of the soil is soaked and the roots become suffocated or bacteria grow in the wet soil. To help avoid root rot, use a cacti and succulent soil which is well-aerated and helps water to flow out freely. If you begin to see the base of the cactus becoming soft, dark brown, and squishy it’s likely that root rot is setting in. One it begins, there’s usually nothing to be done to save the plant. At best, you can try to dry out the base and roots of the plant. Water Golden Barrel when the soil is completely dry, at the top as well as the bottom. Since this plant is rather prickly, a Moisture Meter can help you to determine the moisture level at the bottom of the pot without risking getting poked. (Pro Tip: Use regular kitchen or BBQ tongs when you do find yourself needing to grip a cactus!)
While most cacti, including Golden Barrel, grow best in bright, indirect sunlight (full sun windows are great!), they will usually survive even in low light – they just won’t grow much. So if you prefer to keep your cacti at a smaller size, keep them in more shaded areas. They prefer temperatures between 50 and 75 degrees, so watch those window seats when the temperatures turn colder as the windows often will as well. Unlike many houseplants, cacti are not bothered when the heating vents turn on in the winter, so no need to avoid those. Just keep them clear of cold drafts. Golden Barrel Cactus is not known to be poisonous, but it’s spines are very sharp and can cause harm to curious noses and hands. Keeping them out of reach of children and pets is a good idea.