A barrel cactus is a beautiful and interesting addition to any garden or flower bed. The plant is ready to grow from seed and does well outside and in pots or containers as well. Here is a handy how to guide to help you grow a barrel cactus from seeds.
Step 1 – Collect Seeds
The seeds from the barrel cactus are found in pods a few months after the cactus flower dies and falls off. Leave the pods to mature on the plant and collect them just before they dry out completely.
Step 2 – Remove the Seeds from the Pods
Use a safety razor or a craft knife to slice off the top of the pod and then cut through one side of the pod. This will expose the seeds. Scrape the seeds out of the pod with a tooth pick or the thin end of a plain coffee spoon.
Step 3 - Soak the Seeds
To prepare them for germination, soak the seeds in water overnight.
Step 4 – Prepare the Potting Soil
A mixture of peat moss, vermiculite and coarse garden sand with a ratio of 3:2:5 will make an ideal potting medium. Place some of the potting soil in the germination trays.
Step 5 – Set the Seeds
The seeds of the barrel cactus are tiny; so, remove them from the water by using use a pipette which will enable you to collect them one at a time. If you do not have a pipette, they can usually be found at a local pharmacy. Alternatively, you could try using a long drinking straw.
Step 6 – Distribute the Seeds
Using the pipette (or drinking straw), transfer the seeds to the germination trays as evenly as possible. If you are using a drinking straw, you will probably find that you will pick up two or three seeds at a time. These can be separated by using a small craft screw driver.
Step 7 – Wait for Germination
The trays need to be placed in full sun shine until the seeds germinate. During the five or six week germination period, ensure that the soil stays moist at all times.
Step 8 – Transfer to Pots
When the little pink seedlings sprout tiny spikes, transfer the seedlings to pots filled with the same soil mix you used in the germination trays. This can be done with tweezers or you can use a small teaspoon. The main goal is to treat the seedlings with care as they are very delicate and easily damaged.
Step 9 – Final Positioning
After about three years, the seedlings will have developed enough spines to protect them from most insects and beetles and can be transplanted to their final location. After transplanting, it is wise to maintain a watering schedule until the plant becomes well established.
The barrel cactus is a very slow growing plant and it will be six or seven years before it has all the characteristics of an adult version and the first pleats start to emerge.