Ferocactus viridescens (Coast Barrel Cactus)

Ferocactus viridescens

Also known as the coast barrel cactus, San Diego barrel cactus, or keg cactus, Ferocactus viridescens is one of the most common barrel cacti in the United States, particularly on the West Coast. It typically only reaches about 2 feet in height and grows best in well-drained soil where it can receive plenty of sunlight, making it an ideal choice for gardeners in dry areas as well as indoors.

The plants also feature low water and fertilizer needs, making them easy to maintain and an excellent choice even for new or experienced gardeners alike.

Ferocactus viridescens is one of the hardiest cacti you can grow indoors or outdoors year-round.

While it may appear to be an ordinary barrel cactus, it has several special features that make it stand out from other species of cacti, including coastal barrel cactus and ferocactus viridescens, most notably its thick green fleshy skin, and hair-like spines that are dark green in color and vary in length.

Origin and distribution

Ferocactus viridescens is a barrel cactus that is native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. It is found in habitats such as the Sonoran Desert and the Chihuahuan Desert.

The coast barrel cactus is also known as the San Diego barrel cactus. This cactus gets its common name from its coastal habitat in San Diego, California. It can be seen along many coastal regions in San Diego County.

The San Diego barrel cactus has a massive number of very rigid spines which grow up to six inches in length. Some varieties have brown-colored spines with a tan base while others may have green or red spines.

The round tubercles that rest on top of each segment are yellowish to gray in color and each spine has a whitish base. This plant typically reaches up to ten feet in height and diameter, although there are some smaller varieties that can be seen in certain areas along California’s coast.

Ferocactus viridescens propagation

Ferocactus viridescens

Ferocactus viridescens can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. Seeds should be sown in spring, while cuttings can be taken at any time of year. Cuttings should be allowed to dry for a few days before being planted in well-draining soil.

To propagate from seed, sow the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix in the spring. Cover with 1⁄4 inch of soil and water thoroughly. It is best to cover pots to prevent birds and other animals from eating the seeds.

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Once germination occurs, remove pot cover and provide bright light until plants are established. Cuttings root easily if taken when the plant is actively growing.

The most important factor for success with this type of propagation is that the new cutting must contain one or more leaves at its base, this leaf should have been produced within 4 months prior to taking the cutting.

Cut off any leaves that will be below ground level and any roots that will not be in contact with water during their time underground. Then allow them to dry out slightly before planting them in cactus soil.

Water every 3-5 days, making sure they stay moist but not wet. Be careful not to overwater!

Ferocactus viridescens care information

Ferocactus viridescens

Ferocactus viridescens are native to the hot, dry climates of coastal Mexico and can grow to be up to six feet tall. They have thick, greenish-blue stems with yellow spines. The flowers are usually red or yellow and bloom in the spring.

Barrel cacti are relatively easy to care for and make a great addition to any desert-themed landscape.

Light requirement

Ferocactus viridescens requires full sun to partial shade. In hot summer climates, it appreciates some afternoon shade. It will grow in any well-drained soil, but prefers a sandy or gravelly mix that is slightly acidic. Once established, it is quite a drought-tolerant.

Provide shelter from cold winter winds and adequate drainage by planting it on a slope or raised bed if possible. Planting with an evergreen ground cover can also help provide protection from winter winds and add beauty all year long.

Soil/potting mix

A well-draining cactus potting mix is essential for this plant. You can make your own by mixing together one part sand, one part perlite, and one part peat moss.

Be sure to sterilize your tools and containers before use to prevent the spread of disease. If you’re short on time, you can also purchase a premixed cactus potting mix from your local nursery or garden center.


Ferocactus viridescens are native to Mexico and can grow to be up to six feet tall. They have deep green stems with yellow flowers and can live for up to 100 years. When watering, be sure to use a drip system or soak the roots in water for 30 minutes once a week.

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If the leaves start to turn red, that means the plant is getting too much sun and needs to be moved. If the roots turn black, it means there’s not enough oxygen in the soil. To fix this problem, take away some of the rocks from around the base of the cactus so more air can get down to them.

Ferocactus viridescens requires very little maintenance but does require soil with adequate drainage, plenty of sunlight, and regular feeding with fertilizer.


Adding fertilizer to your Ferocactus viridescens (coast barrel cactus) can help give it a boost of nutrients that it may be lacking in its current environment. However, it’s important to use the right type and amount of fertilizer, as too much can actually do more harm than good.

A general rule of thumb is to apply 1/4 teaspoon of fertilizer per gallon of plant size. You want to make sure that you’re using a slow-release fertilizer or one specifically made for cacti and succulents, because otherwise you risk burning the roots or killing the plant.

You’ll also want to avoid fertilizing after temperatures have been below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day for an extended period of time.


The optimal temperature range for the coast barrel cactus is between 21-32 degrees Celsius. They can tolerate short periods of freezing temperatures, but prolonged exposure to cold will damage the plant.

In hot weather, they need to be protected from the sun to prevent scorching. The ideal location for this plant is in a bright spot that receives direct sunlight for at least six hours a day.


The Ferocactus viridescens, or coast barrel cactus, is a native of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in North America. It’s a large cactus that can grow up to six feet tall and five feet wide, with a barrel-shaped body and long, spiny needles. The coast barrel cactus is adapted to living in hot, dry climates with little humidity.

The ideal humidity range is between 40% and 60%. In order to meet this requirement, you will need to water this plant about twice per week.

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The best time to prune your ferocactus viridescens is in the spring, after the last frost. You’ll want to remove any dead or dying branches, as well as any that are crossing or rubbing against each other.

Be sure to use sharp, clean pruning shears to avoid damaging the plant. When you’re finished, your plant should have a nice, even shape.

It’s also important to keep the soil around the roots moist and make sure it has enough sun exposure. If it does not get enough sunlight, it will start to lean towards light sources such as windows.

When to repot

It’s generally best to repot Ferocactus viridescens every two to three years, or when they start to outgrow their pot. The best time to repot is in the spring before the plant begins its active growth period. If you’re not sure if your plant needs a new pot, gently remove it from its current pot and check the roots.

If they’re tightly compacted or coming out of the drainage holes, it’s time for a new pot. If they’re still fine, go ahead and put the plant back into its old pot.

As with any type of container gardening, always use an organic soil mix that drains well, like half peat moss and half perlite. Add 1-2 inches of soil to the bottom of the pot.

Dormancy/Winter rest

Ferocactus viridescens is a cactus that is native to the deserts of Mexico. It is a member of the genus Ferocactus, which contains about 30 species of cacti. The plant is also known as the green barrel cactus, due to its green coloration. The cactus can grow to be up to 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

The plant blooms in the spring, with flowers that are yellow, red, or orange in color. The fruit it produces is edible, but should not be eaten until after it has been cooked for 10 minutes.

The coast barrel cactus was brought into Europe by horticulturalists during the 19th century, where it was grown as an ornamental plant.

Flowers & fragrance

Ferocactus viridescens

Ferocactus viridescens produces yellow flowers that have a strong fragrance. The fragrance has been described as being similar to that of citrus fruit. The flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects.

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Growth rate

The growth rate of Ferocactus viridescens is determined by the amount of rainfall it receives. In areas with high rainfall, the cactus will grow quickly. However, in areas with little rainfall, the cactus will grow more slowly.

But in general, Coast Barrel Cactus is a slow-growing plant that can reach a height of 6 feet and a width of 4 feet. It requires plenty of water but does not like too much sun or too much shade.


The Coast Barrel Cactus is not toxic to humans or animals. However, the sap from the cactus can cause skin irritation. If ingested, this cactus can cause stomach upset. The spines on this cactus are also sharp and can cause puncture wounds.

USDA hardiness zones

Ferocactus viridescens thrives best in USDA hardiness zones 10-11. In the wild, this cactus is found growing in soils ranging from sandy to clay and alluvial sands.

The coast barrel cactus is a spring-blooming cactus that produces clusters of blue or white flowers during March and April. While the plant is native to California, Texas, Arizona, and Mexico, it has been known to grow as far north as Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Pests and diseases

Ferocactus viridescens is susceptible to a few pests and diseases. These include root rot, mealybugs, scale insects, and fungal diseases. To prevent these problems, water the cactus regularly and keep it in a well-ventilated area.

If you notice any pests or diseases, treat them immediately with an appropriate pesticide or fungicide. If your plant is particularly sensitive to overwatering, place pebbles at the bottom of its pot so that it will not soak up too much water.

If this does not solve the problem, then increase airflow around your plant by moving it somewhere cooler and drier for a while.

Cacti are tough plants and they will usually bounce back quickly after being treated for these problems.