The Q&A Archives: Crazy Cactus

Question: My mother-in-law has a barrel cactus that grew about four inches in a 2-3 month period. It is no longer short and round but tall and cone shaped. The new growth is very light in color. What could have caused this?

Answer: Your cactus does sound somewhat confused! If it's a true barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) it should have retained its barrel shape and gotten larger in circumference, not taller. I wonder if your plant isn't really Haageocereus choisicensis,a similar cactus that starts out with a barrel shape but eventually becomes columnar.<br><br>The light green color is typical of new plant material, so don't be too concerned - it will deepen in color as it matures. You didn't, by any chance, feed it heavily? That would account for the uncharacteristic amount of growth.<br><br>At this point, just make sure the plant is in as sunny a spot as you can find, and provide very little water during the winter - just enough to keep the plant from shriveling.<br><br>Watch for formation of a flower - that's the real indication that the plant is happy in its location and with the attention you're giving it.<br><br>

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