Cactus and Succulents forum→Golden Barrel Cactus Care

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Pelly360
Aug 21, 2020 9:39 AM CST
Hi guys,

Was just gifted one of these big Golden Barrel Cacti. Do you think it needs repotting or the soil needs changing? It was bought like the image and is fairly big. Does this mean the soil should be ok and doesn't need changing to a better draining one?

I'm thinking of changing to a terracota pot, but would it be ok to take the whole plant with soil and put it in the new pot and filling the gaps with my own soil?

Also how often should I water this plant? I live in the UK. Would it be ok to put it inside a unheated Conservatory?

Many thanks

Thumb of 2020-08-21/Pelly360/53a327
Name: Stefan
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skopjecollection
Aug 21, 2020 11:25 AM CST
Pelly360 said:Hi guys,

Was just gifted one of these big Golden Barrel Cacti. Do you think it needs repotting or the soil needs changing? It was bought like the image and is fairly big. Does this mean the soil should be ok and doesn't need changing to a better draining one?

I'm thinking of changing to a terracota pot, but would it be ok to take the whole plant with soil and put it in the new pot and filling the gaps with my own soil?

Also how often should I water this plant? I live in the UK. Would it be ok to put it inside a unheated Conservatory?

Many thanks

Thumb of 2020-08-21/Pelly360/53a327


Right....im not gonna go into detail, but in order of asking
1. You probably should. The pot is kinda too tiny for such a big plant, and the soil looks (and very likely is given its origin of dutch wholesale) too organic.
2. Terracotta could work.Whatever you take, just make sure its proportional of the pot this plant was in(very shallow and wide). You should clean the outer layers of the soil, if you recall my previous point.
3. Id water this deeply every 3 weeks or so, maybe monthly in winter, less deeply.
4. I dont think it will work in an unheated greenhouse. Its gonna be moist. Cold and moisture kill cacti....
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Aug 21, 2020 1:18 PM CST

Moderator

That is very good advice.

Here is my feedback. I doubt the soil needs changing, and would advise against messing with the roots more than necessary. You can move the plant to a slightly bigger pot (like 5 cm wider but not more than that) in the near future. The new pot should be wider than deep, with holes at the bottom. A terra cotta pot may be the right choice. Just pop, drop, and fill. Remove the plant with its rootball intact (presumably by inversion), drop it on top of some soil in the new pot, and fill in around the edges.

Use fast draining soil, like regular potting soil (I think you call it compost in the UK) mixed with an equal volume of perlite, pumice, or gritty equivalent. Do not water immediately after repotting; wait a week first.

Water well, to saturation (water coming out the holes at the bottom), ideally in more than one pass, waiting a few minutes in between for the water to be absorbed by dry soil. Then make sure the saucer is empty and the pot is not sitting in a lake afterwards, and wait however long it takes the soil to go dry at depth (not just at the surface) before watering again.

Our database has this plant as hardy to -6°C but I would try to keep it above freezing, and any time it gets even close to that range it's important not to water. Wet and cold is a bad combination. The more light you can provide during late fall and winter, the better.
Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Aug 21, 2020 5:07 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:That is very good advice.
Our database has this plant as hardy to -6°C


Has anyone on this forum seen whether it can really experience those temps without damage? In my location, -6C would mean it would require protection very few times during the winter months (assuming it's being protected from moisture). The info that came with mine indicated it needs protection from 5C and below, but that may have been to prevent scarring or damage rather than plant loss. I can't remember now. I didn't get it in a new container this spring and the spines are wickedly beyond the edges of the container now. Gonna be mean to move too much.
Donald
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 8a)
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plantmanager
Aug 21, 2020 5:48 PM CST
I have some in the ground in Phoenix, AZ. They are planted with large rocks near them, and a gravel ground cover. They have been ok when they experienced 20F for a prolonged period. I didn't cover them at all. I really doubt that they could go much lower.
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Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Aug 21, 2020 8:33 PM CST
I wouldn't likely chance temps quite as low as 20F deliberately, but of necessity I have to depend on the forecasts to be at least quasi accurate. Freezes are seldom prolonged here and in that case it would probably be brought in the garage which has never frozen in even the worst cold spells. I probably will let it have more exposure this year and be extra careful about making sure it's also kept relatively dry. That combination of moisture and cold is what has caused the most problems. For something as vital as water, it is often the beast that slays here - in every season.
Donald
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 8a)
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plantmanager
Aug 21, 2020 8:56 PM CST
I don't water the Phoenix Golden Barrels at all in the winter. They do get the occasional rain. In summer heat, they get rain, and maybe some water once a month in summer. They seem quite happy, and a few of them have bloomed. They were all planted in 2003.
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Aug 21, 2020 9:39 PM CST
I agree with Karen - why water this in winter? In a cool and wet (humid) climate watering in winter is just asking for trouble especially if it does not get much good light (which in the UK it is unlikely to get).

I am sure it can take down to -5 or 6 C but that is probably predicated on it being relatively dry and it getting well above freezing during the day, which in my limited experience (it just has not been that cold that often since I moved here in 2006) always happens in the Phoenix area. If it was a humid or wet cold I'd be worried at those kind of temperatures, especially if it is not going to warm up much during the day.

However if it does end up being warm like the summer you just had and it is planted in fast draining soil you can probably water it more frequently, but that will likely induce significant growth, and maybe if you have it in a pot you may not want that.

If given growing space and in the right summer conditions these can fill up a pot fast.
It is what it is!
Name: Karen
New Mexico (Zone 8a)
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plantmanager
Aug 21, 2020 10:19 PM CST
You are right, Thijs. They can grow incredibly fast when they are happy. I have some potted ones that need new pots about every 2 years.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Aug 21, 2020 10:27 PM CST

Moderator

My plants grow about an inch a year in diameter at that size in our very mild climate.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
Aug 21, 2020 11:00 PM CST
Mine are currently all hunkered down under shade cloth I think more than six weeks straight of 110 and above and up to now just two decent monsoon storms and just about everything is closer to croaking than being happy. Plants that were just fine taking the exact same full sun last year now look scorched all to hell... If you walk around my neighborhood, you'd might come to think that the base color of most Agaves and cacti is yellow. Most aloes that are left unprotected are dried up husks...

Anyway, I will stop hijacking this thread, but it has been a crazy tough summer here. Today was pretty much the first day in forever that we did not get 110, and then of course we barely hit 100... felt good.

I grew a couple of Golden Barrels when I still lived in Amsterdam. Just on a south facing window sill inside. When I moved to the US my mom kept them, I think see still has them. They are doing weird etiolation stuff, but only started doing that not that long ago till then it was mostly very little water, not potting them up and keeping them in the warmest driest place possible. So it can most certainly be done.
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Name: Steve
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ketsui73
Aug 21, 2020 11:59 PM CST
@Pelly360
hi there , nice plant. I am in the UK and have a couple of small GB that are not as big as yours. I have to got to work in 15 mins so apologies for my short comments, i can try to help more later
1- where are you in the UK?
2- As far as location goes, you need as much sun as possible. Outside unprotected won't work, but put it outside as often as you can without it getting wet. You with have to acclimatise at first , but the plants will do better for the increased exposure in the summer. I would say conservatory is fine but which way is it facing? if your conservatory is north facing, but you have south facing windows , then i would guess it would still do better in the south facing windows
3-The advice you have been given is good. I would read the threads on soil and watering at the top of the forum first. In the Uk we are often dull, cold and wet which means the plants do not take much water in these conditions , therefore you need to maximise drainage / evaporation to prevent rot, if the weather turns after you water. I would go terracotta half pot (drain holes a must) width as advised. I would also go towards a grittier side on soil. So mix at least 50% with course material. You can use various things for this like Hort grit , lava rock, gravel or pumice, some use perlite but i find that has other problems . I think pumice is best but others will work.
4- standard advice is UK is no water from oct to march or april. Its just too risky. You need to ensure you go through the proper wet /dry cycle. so you need to work out a method to determine when the soil is dry. Read the thread on watering to see how i and others do this. Your biggest risk is over watering by far. My GBs need watering much less than a lot of my other cacti.
5-You are going to need strong gloves and a brave heart on the repot Smiling We can advise more later
Good luck and please let us know how you go on Thumbs up
Steve





Name: Donald
Eastland county, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Enjoys or suffers hot summers Raises cows Plant Identifier
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needrain
Aug 22, 2020 6:56 AM CST
Steve's observation that GBs need watering less than many other cacti corresponds to my observation as well. Even as hot and dry as my area of Texas is in the summer, I seldom water mine. It is outside in full direct sun where it gets whatever rainfall occurs but I've maybe given it supplemental water only twice (I think) this summer. It still has grown.
Donald
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Aug 22, 2020 12:43 PM CST
I guess if you are going to repot, the best way to 'grab' a cactus like this is with two big wads of news paper that you use as 'pads' between your hands and the plant. The spines will penetrate the paper but given their size they will not get harmed by that, nor will your hands if the wads of paper are big enough. In my experience that is just about the best way to lift the cacti that have outgrown tongs or other kind of grabbers, but are not so big they require pieces of thick old carpetting strapped around the cactus.

Ideally you do this with two persons. One with the wads of paper that holds and lifts the plant and the second person to pull the pot off, no flipping around needed that way.

As to water needs: I realize many of you who need to winter these inside want them to not grow that much, but while they are excellent low water use plants, they definitely will grow more when given plenty of water when it is warm/hot. I also suspect it helps to induce flowering, though these definitely need to reach a certain age/size before they will flower, unlike Ferocacti which tend to be a little easier to flower at relatively young age/small size.
It is what it is!

Pelly360
Aug 24, 2020 7:56 AM CST
Ah thank you all for the feedback!

I have bought a new terracota pot that's just tiny bit larger than the one it's currently in. Planning to repot it soon.

The soil is however still slightly wet from when I bought it. Should I wait until it's dry before repotting or does it not matter? Also should I still water after a week like Baja suggested or wait until next year spring now since summer is nearly over. I plan to not water over the winter as suggested.

Thanks.
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Bulbs Foliage Fan
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skopjecollection
Aug 24, 2020 8:23 AM CST
Pelly360 said:Ah thank you all for the feedback!

I have bought a new terracota pot that's just tiny bit larger than the one it's currently in. Planning to repot it soon.

The soil is however still slightly wet from when I bought it. Should I wait until it's dry before repotting or does it not matter? Also should I still water after a week like Baja suggested or wait until next year spring now since summer is nearly over. I plan to not water over the winter as suggested.

Thanks.


Dry
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Aug 24, 2020 8:59 PM CST

Moderator

Water. It's still summer. Fall is not here yet, and winter is far away. This is kind of important after repotting in my opinion, it sort of converts the soil into a more coherent mix.
Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
Region: Arizona Enjoys or suffers hot summers Cactus and Succulents Xeriscape Adeniums Hybridizer
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mcvansoest
Aug 24, 2020 9:04 PM CST
Uhm, depending on where in the UK... just kidding, though not completely. There are places where it can already be pretty miserable, but it sounds like most of NW Europe has been dealing with excessive heat so I would suggest to keep watering too...
It is what it is!

Pelly360
Aug 25, 2020 10:58 AM CST
So guys, the soil seems to still be slightly damp and apparently it was last watered around 10 days ago. Is this normal? What can I do to make the soil dry faster?

I'm thinking maybe the soil is too organic and holds water for too long or is it because the it's in a much larger pot? I keep it indoors btw, by a window that receives the most light. Thought lately the UK has been raining a lot and not much sun. Would it be a good idea to invest in a grow light?

In terms of the soil then, do you think it would be best to remove the soil around the roots and replace it? Though i'm worried it's not a good season now to do so and tampering with the roots might not be a good idea. Would it make a difference if I just loosen the root ball a tiny bit, wait a week for it to heal and then just plop it in the new pot, and put new soil around it?

If I do this, should I wait for the soil to dry in it's current container or get it out now and let it dry unpotted?

Really sorry for all the questions, just want to make sure i'm doing everything right and don't want to kill him off.

Any advice much appreciated! Thank You!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Aug 25, 2020 11:14 AM CST

Moderator

I would think slightly damp after 10 days would be about right indoors. I cannot give advice about grow lights, but maybe somebody else here can. Only replace the soil if it's very different from the one you plan to use. Don't loosen the root ball. The best move is usually to leave the roots alone, unless you have to change the soil.

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