Golden Barrel Cactus: Bloom Or No Bloom?

Resembling a large sewing pincushion, the golden barrel cactus offers intimidating spines across a highly ribbed, spherical body which is perfect for your desert terrarium. Although the barrel cactus may look mundane for most parts of the year, its appearance changes at certain times of the year when the blooms burst forth.

So, does barrel cactus bloom? The simple answer is “yes.”  The cactus blooms wonderfully in spring and summer. The flowers burst into life with a neon brilliance putting on a spectacular show. Its flowers are exceptional with red spines that reflect natural light in the evening when the sun is setting. When the conditions are right, these flowers get pollinated, producing relatively large fruits filled with seeds that feed different types of animals in the wilderness. Typically, the cactus starts to flower once it reaches approximately six inches wide or after about 15 years.

Do you have a barrel cactus in your home and wondering whether it will ever bloom? If so, you have come to look for information in the right place. This blog post discusses everything you need to know about the golden barrel cactus and how it blooms.

When Does the Golden Barrel Cactus Bloom?

The golden barrel cactus is one of the most popular indoor cacti species. It generally grows slowly and doesn’t bloom during its early years. In most cases, this cactus starts to produce flowers when its barrel is at least six inches wide. To achieve this width, the cactus must be at least 15 years old.

So, if you have a relatively young barrel cactus that isn’t showing any signs of flowering, you don’t need to worry a bit. When the cactus is mature enough and the conditions are right, it will start producing flowers.

The cactus mainly blooms during spring and summer – mostly between mid-April and September. In some cases, the flowering may start in May, but it rarely extends to October.

Golden barrel cactus pink flower.
When the cactus is mature enough and the conditions are right, it will start producing flowers.

During spring and summer, the long sunlight hours stimulate the cactus’ growth and reproduction. The succulent’s brightly colored flowers attract bees for cross-pollination, resulting in the formation of fruits.

The resulting fruit serves as a source of food for the local wildlife, which helps to spread the seeds throughout the area.

The cold winter and fall months are dormant periods for the golden barrel cactus. During this time, the succulent slides into dormancy, and growth stops. It is not until spring that the plant becomes active and starts to show signs of growth.

How Long Do Golden Barrel Blooms Last?

While some succulents bloom and wither within a day, most golden barrel cactus species will retain their flowers for up to six weeks. Some of the crucial factors that determine how long the flowers will last include the amount of watering it receives and the temperature of the surrounding environment.

When the flowers don’t receive sufficient watering in relatively hot temperatures, they tend to wither pretty fast.

The flowers are mostly two to three inches wide and grow in a crown near the top of the stem. Most of them generally last for one or two weeks, but if you keep the conditions right, you might enjoy the impressive show for six or even seven weeks.

Golden barrel cactus flowering.
You need to make sure that your plant is always receiving the right amount of water all the time.

Although the cactus requires minimal care to survive, dropping or wilting flowers within a few days is usually a clear sign of improper watering or sudden temperature changes.

Keep in mind that watering is a critical aspect of barrel cactus care. So, you need to make sure that your plant is always receiving the right amount of water all the time. Avoid underwatering or overwatering your plant for the best results.

The flowers remain open during the day but close at night. It means that pollination of the flowers can only happen during the day.

How Can You Get Your Golden Barrel Cactus to Bloom?

If your cactus is already more than six inches wide or 15 years old, but it isn’t showing any signs of flowering, it could be a clear sign of poor maintenance.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to change the situation and encourage your plant to flower. They include:

1. Water Properly

Most cacti species are known for their acclimation to relatively drought conditions. These plants have developed a wide range of survival mechanisms that make them highly drought-resistant. They store plenty of water in their stems to push them through the dry season.

However, a barrel cactus grown at home may have slightly different water needs than one in the wilderness. A barrel cactus grown at home requires slightly more watering to flower. But be careful not to overwater your plant because it can lead to root rot issues.

Water can and a cactus.
Ensure you stick to the recommended watering schedule.

Keep in mind that a truly shriveled barrel cactus doesn’t have a lot of energy to initiate flowering. Even if you don’t want to be a little bit more generous with watering out of fear of overwatering, ensure you stick to the recommended watering schedule to give your plant the best chance of flowering.

Typically, a barrel cactus that retains an average amount of water from regular watering should be able to flower in spring and summer without any issues.

2. Soil Requirements

The type of potting mix you use to grow your barrel cactus can also significantly impact its flowering. Although the cactus can grow in different types of soils, ensure you stick to a well-drained and rich potting mix.

Well-draining potting mix prevents waterlogging, which is crucial to the flowering process. Fertilize your plant during the growing months with a 5-10-5 ratio mixture that will help accelerate flowering. The numbers represent the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium quantities in the fertilizer.

The relatively higher amount of phosphorous in the mixture promotes the formation of blooms over stem growth. Take fertilization seriously because poor soil nutrients can lead to low flower output.

Furthermore, poorly draining soils that lead to waterlogging of the roots may contribute to root rot and blossoming problems. Generally, a barrel cactus cannot survive for long in poor drainage soil conditions.

3. Light Requirements

Flowering can also be affected by too much or too little sunlight. The golden barrel cactus must be exposed to full sunlight in spring and summer to produce the gorgeous flowers that form at the crown of the stems.

Generally, blooming will be stunted if the plant doesn’t receive plenty of sunlight. The flowers formed won’t last for long either.

However, if you move your plant indoors during winter, you need to be careful with introducing it to sunlight in spring. Aim to do it gradually. You can start by exposing it to a few hours of morning sunlight and increase the number of hours of sunlight exposure slowly until it is ready for full sunlight.

Golden Barrel cactus expossed to sunlight.
You want to expose your barrel cactus to 12 hours of constant light.

If you throw your plant out hastily, it may fail to bloom as a result of the shock that it will develop. Furthermore, it may suffer from severe sunburns that don’t heal.

Ideally, you want to expose your barrel cactus to 12 hours of constant light to give it the best chance of blooming. If you can’t achieve that with natural sunlight, consider complementing it with artificial grow lights.

What Happens to Golden Cactus Blooms?

Once your golden barrel cactus has produced flowers, they start to attract insects. These insects feed on the flowers and also facilitate the process of cross-pollination. Bees are the most common pollinators.

When the flowers are cross-pollinated, they close, and seeds start to form inside the ovary of the faded flower. The process may take a couple of weeks.

Pollinated flowers will eventually turn into fruits. The golden barrel cactus fruits are usually embedded in the dense hairs on the tip of the plant. In the wilderness, squirrels usually harvest the fruits to feed on the seeds.

The fruit has a yellowish fleshy wall that turns brown when it is fully ripe. It contains black seeds that remain viable for a relatively long time.

To collect the seeds for propagation, gently pluck the fruit from the plant. Take the fruit to a work table and break them open to remove the seeds.

Leave the seeds to dry for a couple of days before propagation. Generally, the seeds require warm and moist conditions to germinate.

To obtain the best results, use a clean and shallow pot with plenty of drainage holes and a soilless potting mix to germinate the seeds. Fill half of the container with the potting mix and spread the seeds on top of it.

A golden barrel cactus closeup image.
The golden barrel cactus fruits are usually embedded in the dense hairs on the tip of the plant.

Water the pot from the bottom, cover it with plastic then position it in indirect sunlight. Check the potting mix regularly and ensure it stays moist. The seeds should start germinating after six or seven weeks.

Final Thoughts

Golden barrel cactus flowers are a beautiful addition to any garden, and with a little bit of care, you can get your own cactus to bloom. Make sure to water properly, give it the right soil, light conditions, and wait for the blooms to form.

With proper care, the blooms can last for up to six weeks, turning into fruits with plenty of seeds that you can propagate to expand your golden barrel cactus collection.

read this next

Succulents Terrarium
Succulents are so easy to grow. They require very little attention and there is nothing better than an earthy or whimsical addition to your home or office. Why not try making your own succulent terrarium? It’s really very simple.
The hardy agave plant is among the most versatile of all succulents, suited for either indoors or outdoors. However, most people make a few mistakes when caring for it. I’ve put together 8 golden rules for watering this special plant here, and if you follow them, your agave will thrive.
Many succulent varieties can be propagated just by cutting apart a small piece of that plant and planting it in suitable soil. Many cuttings can be planted immediately, however some take a little more work to get ready for their new life. There are many different ways to start your succulent cuttings, but the method below has proven to be the most reliable way to grow new healthy plants from a cutting.
You’ve likely seen Sansevieria in homes and offices across the country, and thinking about buying one to add to your space. They’re beautiful, simple, and ancient – but what do you do with them? How do you care for it? We are here to help!
Sansevieria, is a beautiful and easy-to-care-for indoor houseplant that many people use as a decorative element in their home décor. It is very popular for its durability and relatively maintenance free care. Learn how to take care of Sansevieria with our essential guide.
Rooting and planting a piece of your cactus plant is a technique for propagating it. You need to carefully take a cutting, allow it to try, and root it into a proper-sized pot with suitable soil. To keep your cacti healthy, never overwater them
Each cactus species is well adapted to growing in specific areas that experience a certain climate, Generally, most cacti species grow in hot and dry regions in North and South America but not only, we are here to explain
When growing succulents, one of the most common questions we get from cat lovers is whether or not these plants are poisonous to cats. The answer isn’t quite straight-forward, but the information in this post will help you decide if you have a safe garden for your adorable kitty.
What are cactus plants made of? Cacti, also known as succulents or Succulent plants, are actually made up of specialized stems and leaves which store water, similar to the roots system of non-succulent plants. They contain high amounts of organelles called plastids; these store food for the plant. Here are some unique features of cacti and additional information on how these amazing succulents use them.
You’ve nurtured your cactus in its container for weeks–but why does it show no signs of life? It’s time to refresh yourself on the basic facts about how to get your cactus blossoms. Your job is like that of a detective, only the clues are hidden underground. You must know when and how to intervene if your cactus isn’t actively growing.
The String of Dolphins, also known as the Dolphin plant is a really unique and hardy plant. It’s small and compact and produces hundreds of flowers on every good size stem. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. It works great as a patio plant, cabinet accent or as a houseplant. It can even grow on concrete!
Air plants are very easy to care for and can even thrive without soil — use them in any arrangement, in various aspects of decor or just place them in your office
Tropical terrariums bring the beauty and wonder of a tropical rainforest to your home. Start off with a clear glass container, or tall vase, and place a layer of soil on the bottom. Then, create a miniature landscape using tropical plants, rocks, and pebbles that represent a tropical island.
As succulents are low-maintenance plants that thrive in harsh climates, overwatering is a critical issue that can lead to root rot or even death. Luckily, you can save your overwatered succulents and here are some tips to easily do it!

Receive the latest news

Get Our Cacti Newsletter

Stay updated with the latest facts, tips, advice, and more!

Your privacy is important to us.