Ferocactus glaucescens (Blue Barrel Cactus)

Ferocactus glaucescens

Last updated on July 18th, 2022 at 09:04 pm

Ferocactus glaucescens, commonly known as the blue barrel cactus, is well known for its striking and unique coloration, which can range from green to bright pink to various shades of blue or purple.

The blue barrel cactus normally grows in arid regions between 2000 and 4000 feet above sea level in the Sonoran Desert as well as in parts of Mexico and Arizona.

Ferocactus glaucescens takes its name from the bright blue color of its body, which can range from dark blue to light blue depending on the light source.

This type of cactus comes in many shapes and sizes, with most having upward-pointing spines that grow upwards. The ones with downward-pointing spines are known as Ferocactus viridescens, although both types are closely related and classified under the same genus.

Origin and distribution

Ferocactus glaucescens is a cactus that is native to the Sonoran Desert in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is found in Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah in the United States, and in Sonora and Baja California in Mexico.

The blue barrel cactus grows in sandy or gravelly soils on slopes and plains. Occasionally it can be found growing with saguaro cacti. The Blue Barrel cactus is pollinated by bees, which are attracted to its nectar-filled flowers that bloom during the spring and summer months.

This plant has been listed as threatened by the IUCN Red List due to human activities such as the development of land for urban use and agriculture, livestock grazing, invasion of invasive plants, wildfire suppression techniques, and climate change leading to increased frequency of fires.

Ferocactus glaucescens propagation

Ferocactus glaucescens

Ferocactus glaucescens can be propagated by seed or stem cuttings. To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix and keep them warm and moist until they germinate.

To propagate by stem cuttings, allow the cuttings to callous over for a few days before planting them in a well-draining cactus mix. Keep the soil moist but not wet and provide bright, indirect light until roots form and new growth appears.

Grow at a temperature between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit with night temperatures around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In spring, plant the cutting outdoors in rich garden soil after all danger of frost has passed.

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Space plants 1 foot apart and water thoroughly once established. If planted indoors, put them near a sunny window with good air circulation. Once the shoots are 4 inches tall, move them back outside where they will continue to grow and produce blooms of their own accord.

Ferocactus glaucescens care information

Ferocactus glaucescens

Ferocactus glaucescens is a slow-growing cactus that can reach up to 6 feet tall. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. Water the cactus deeply, but infrequently, and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. This cactus is not frost-tolerant and should be protected from cold weather.

Light requirement

Ferocactus glaucescens plants are native to desert regions and as such, they require full sun to partial shade. They will tolerate some shade, but not much. They prefer a sunny location with well-drained soil. If you live in an area with hot summers, these cacti will do best in a protected location where they will not be exposed to the full afternoon sun.

Soil/potting mix

A good potting mix for a Ferocactus glaucescens should be well-draining and contain some organic matter. You can either make your own mix or purchase one from a garden center.

Be sure to avoid mixes that are too high in peat moss, as this can hold too much moisture and lead to root rot. If you choose to use an all-purpose potting mix, add perlite or coarse sand to the soil at a ratio of 1:1. Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.


The blue barrel cactus is a succulent, so it doesn’t need much water. In fact, too much water can be harmful. Water the cactus about once a week, making sure the soil is dry before you water again. If the leaves start to droop, that’s a sign that you’re watering too much. You should also water less in winter when the plant slows down and starts to go dormant.

A common misconception about this cactus is that if it gets enough sun, it won’t need any water at all. While this may be true for other types of plants, this isn’t true for succulents like the blue barrel cactus.

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The plant has some natural protection against extreme heat or cold because of its waxy coating on the surface of its leaves.


Ferocactus glaucescens are relatively easy to care for, but they do require some specific fertilizer requirements. Use a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and low in nitrogen. Apply the fertilizer during the spring and summer months when the plant is actively growing.

A good rule of thumb is to fertilize every three weeks with a diluted solution of water and fertilizer until you reach the desired concentration. Over-fertilizing can be just as harmful as under-fertilizing, so make sure not to overdo it!


The blue barrel cactus is a heat-loving plant that thrives in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. It is native to desert regions of Mexico and the southwestern United States, where it grows in hot, dry conditions.

During the summer months, the blue barrel cactus will tolerate temperatures up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it should be protected from direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. The blue barrel cactus can also tolerate cool winter temperatures, as long as it is not exposed to frost or freezing temperatures.


If you live in an area with high humidity, you may be wondering if a Ferocactus glaucescens will do well in your landscape. The good news is that this cactus is quite tolerant of high humidity and can even thrive in it! Just make sure to provide adequate drainage for your plant so that it doesn’t become waterlogged.

The ideal humidity range for ferocactus glaucescens is between 40% and 60%. If the air becomes too dry or too moist, this species will not grow as effectively.


It’s important to prune your ferocactus glaucescens (blue barrel cactus) regularly to maintain its shape and size. Pruning also encourages new growth, which can help keep your plant looking full and healthy.

To prune, simply cut off any dead or dying leaves or stems with a sharp knife or pair of scissors. Be sure to disinfect your tools before and after use to avoid spreading the disease.

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You should also wait until the soil is dry before you prune. Fertilize in spring and summer only if the plant has grown less than 6 inches during the year, using a general-purpose fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 20-20-20.

If you fertilize too often, it may affect how well the roots develop, making them unable to provide water to other parts of the plant as needed.

When to repot

You should repot your ferocactus glaucescens every two to three years. If you notice that the plant is becoming pot-bound, or if the roots are starting to come out of the drainage holes, it’s time to repot.

When you do repot, be sure to use a well-draining potting mix and a pot that is only slightly larger than the current one. Make sure the soil does not become too wet as this can lead to root rot.

Place the cactus in an area with plenty of sunlight and make sure it has adequate water, but avoid letting it sit in standing water.

Ferocactus glaucescens can also be watered from below by placing a container filled with gravel under the pot; this will allow for better water retention in sandy soils.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Ferocactus glaucescens

The blue barrel cactus is a desert plant that goes through a period of dormancy, or winter rest, during the cooler months. This is a natural process that helps the plant conserve energy and survive in its harsh environment.

During dormancy, the cactus will stop growing and its leaves will fall off. It may also shed some of its older, outermost layers of skin. When the weather warms up again, the cactus will start to grow new leaves and flowers.

Although it does go dormant for short periods of time, this does not mean it should be kept indoors. The blue barrel cactus thrives best in dry climates with full sun exposure. Keep your plant outdoors where it can experience temperatures between 60°F-90°F year-round!

Ferocactus glaucescens flower & fragrance

The flowers of the Ferocactus glaucescens are a beautiful blue color. They have a strong fragrance that can be detected from a distance. The flowers bloom in the spring and summer months.

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Growth rate

The blue barrel cactus has a moderate growth rate. In ideal conditions, it can grow up to 2 inches per year. This cactus prefers full sun and well-drained soil. It is drought tolerant and does not need much water to survive.

The blue barrel cactus is native to Mexico and can be found in the deserts of Arizona, California, and Nevada.


The blue barrel cactus is not considered to be toxic to humans or animals. However, the plant does contain saponins, which can cause stomach upset if ingested in large quantities.

The saponins are also known to be irritating to the skin and eyes, so it’s best to handle this cactus with care. If you experience any irritation after coming into contact with the plant, wash the affected area with soap and water.

USDA hardiness zones

Ferocactus glaucescens thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10-11. They grow well with good drainage and a bright sunny location. There are a few different varieties of this cactus, including one that is a spineless variety called ferocactus pilosus variegatus.

Pests and diseases

Ferocactus glaucescens is susceptible to mealybugs, scale, and fungal diseases. Mealybugs can be controlled with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. Scale can be controlled with horticultural oil or neem oil. Fungal diseases can be controlled with fungicides.

Spider mites are common on cacti but do not pose a significant threat to plants. Light infestations of spider mites may be controlled by washing the plant off with water or hose streams of water, or by applying an insecticidal soap spray at the base of the plant.

Serious infestations should be addressed by using one of the miticide soaps mentioned above. If your Ferocactus glaucescens has developed powdery mildew, you will need to remove any infected leaves as soon as possible and allow healthy foliage to fully mature before exposing it to direct sunlight again.