From all the Claret Cup cacti, Echinocereus triglochidiatus is the largest and most stunning. This eye-catching plant is found in varied habitats from northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. E. triglochidiatus is robust and versatile. It can grow in deserts, hummus pockets, mountain woodlands, scrubs, coniferous forests, and rocky slopes in elevations up to 11500 feet (3500 meters). It is most commonly found in shady areas.
Claret Cup cacti can also grow in colder climates because they tend to clump and retain heat. If you are the proud owner of E. triglochidiatus or if you plan to add it to your collection, you should expect a beautiful floral display in late spring. Claret Cup cacti are pollinated by bees and hummingbirds, so if you plant one in your garden, you will probably notice these lovely visitors.
Although a beginner gardener will have no problem growing this lovely plant, there are a few things you should consider when it comes to its care. Keep reading to find out how to grow your very own Claret Cup cactus.
About Claret Cup Cactus
- Echinocereus triglochidiatus is also known as hedgehog cactus, claret cup hedgehog, kingcup cactus, strawberry cactus, or crimson hedgehog.
- The name hedgehog cactus comes from its scientific name, Echinocereus triglochidiatus. In Greek, the word ‘echinos’ means hedgehog. We believe this name is appropriate, considering its small, spiny, rounded body. The other part of the name, ‘triglochidiatus’, means three barbed bristles, referring to its clustered trio spines.
- Landscaping with Claret Cup cacti is easy and fun. You can plant it together with other easy-to-grow plants such as agave, yucca, or other cacti. For a less dramatic texture, choose Gaura, Agastache, or other flowering plants.
- Native Americans used to collect Claret Cup cacti, burn off the spines, and mash the stems. Next, sugar was added and the mixture was baked to result in sweet cakes.
- Claret Cup cacti are hardy to USDA zones 7a to 10b. Even if you can’t have one in your garden you can still grow indoors. Claret Cups will have no problem thriving in a dry environment.
Claret Cup Cactus Features: An Overview
- This desert beauty can grow to a height of approximately 10 inches (25 cm) and 4 inches (10 cm) in width under favorable conditions. In their natural habitat, they can be considerably larger.
- Echinocereus triglochidiatus is long-growing and cylindrical. Numerous scarlet flowers bloom on top of their stems and last for several days. Its flowers can vary slightly in color based on genetic differences and soil type.
- The flowers produce a large amount of nectar. This, as well as their vivid colors, attract hummingbirds and other insects.
- The claret cup is a perennial succulent that has a waxy coating on the sunny side and numerous spines. This is very useful for minimizing water loss and keeping away herbivores such as deer or rabbits.
- During the cooler hours of the night, Echinocereus triglochidiatus opens its pores, or stomata, to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Although it also photosynthesizes during the day, it keeps the pores closed.
Growing Claret Cup Cactus
Echinocereus triglochidiatus are low-maintenance, so if you don’t want a plant that’s too much of a hassle, this might be the perfect cactus for you. However, before adding one to your succulent family, there are some growing requirements you must consider. Like most desert species, Claret Cups enjoy conditions that are normally found in their natural habitat.
When it comes to light conditions, you must provide your dear hedgehog cactus with as much of it as possible. They will appreciate nearly full sun conditions, close to a southern or western window. Although they do enjoy direct sunrays, during the hottest hours of the day, especially in the summertime, we recommend filtering the light to avoid scorching. Young specimens that are not yet established will suffer greatly from direct full sun exposure.
Plants that are kept in dim conditions will not thrive and are unlikely to flower, so if you only have north-facing windows, consider investing in a growing lamp. Also, make sure to bring your Claret Cup cactus inside if you live in an area with harsh winters. Although this is a cold-hardy plant, it needs relatively warm temperatures to grow. Echinocereus triglochidiatus can tolerate extremely hot temperatures.
Hedgehog cacti are usually pest-free, but they can suffer from spider mite attacks, mealybugs, and scale infestations. You can use neem oil sprays or plant insecticides to treat the affected areas.
Planting Claret Cup Cactus
The Claret Cup Cactus prefers sunny conditions and extremely well-drained soil, or they can develop root rot. Make sure the location you choose is far away from play areas in which the spines may cause injury. Echinocereus triglochidiatus thrives in lean soil, so make sure not to add any compost.
Plant each specimen carefully and try to spread the roots as much as possible. It is recommended to wear gardeners’ gloves during this process. Mulch with a thick layer of gravel around the base to protect the plant from soggy soil during rainy months.
If you are potting Echinocereus triglochidiatus, use a sandy potting mix or succulent mix to make sure there is good drainage. To improve drainage, you can also add perlite or pebbles to the substrate. Choose an unglazed pot with generous drain holes so that the excess moisture can evaporate. Claret Cup cacti need lots of space to grow, so consider using a large, shallow container with generous drain holes.
In their natural habitat, Echinocereus triglochidiatus can grow in poor soil without a lot of nutrients. However, if you want to help them grow faster, feed them once per month during their active growing season with a liquid fertilizer that is high in potassium. Suspend fertilizing in winter as it is the pant’s dormant period.
It is recommended to repot hedgehog cacti every year or so. You can prolong this time by removing plantlets and planting them in a separate pot. Make sure you don’t damage the roots during the process, as they have a weak, shallow root system. You can even repot the plant in the same container to provide a fresh growing environment. If they outgrow the current pot, choose one that is slightly larger than the old one.
Watering Claret Cup Cactus
After planting your Claret Cup, make sure to water it well. During the first month after transplanting, water it every 5 to 7 days. During dry months, water every 2 to 4 weeks if there hasn’t been any rainfall. In early fall, you can stop watering so that the plant can prepare for the winter. Avoid watering it during the winter months or if you live in a humid area.
To prevent root rot, make sure the cactus is not sitting in water. Any excess amount of water from the tray should be immediately emptied. Always check the soil between waterings, and water only when it is almost completely dry. In summer or extremely hot temperatures, Claret Cups might need a bit more water than usual. If the soil is rock hard, it’s an indicator that your cacti might need some water.
Propagating Claret Cup Cactus
Echinocereus triglochidiatus cactus can be propagated through seeds or offsets. This type of succulent is slow-growing, so we do not recommend propagating it using seeds. The easiest and fastest way to propagate Claret Cup cactus is by offsets.
Start by carefully plucking out one of the biggest and strongest offsets with some clean kitchen tongues. Set is aside for a few days until a callous is formed that will protect the new plant from rooting when planted. Next plant them in an appropriate soil mix and water them thoroughly. Keep in a warm location, away from direct sunlight.
Echinocereus triglochidiatus cacti are hardy, versatile plants suitable for beginner gardeners who want to grow them indoors or in their garden. Not only are they great for landscaping, but they also produce beautiful flowers that will attract visitors such as hummingbirds and other insects. Although Claret Cup cacti are easy to grow, there are a few aspects you should keep in mind if you are planning to add one to your garden.
Growing Claret Cup cactus is not much of a hassle if you provide appropriate conditions, similar to their natural environment. These plants can tolerate extremely hot weather, they do need partial shade during summer afternoons. Indoors, make sure to place them next to a southern or western window. Young specimens that are not yet established must not be kept in direct sunlight. Plants that are not provided with sufficient warmth or light will not grow and probably will not flower.
Like most succulents, Echinocereus triglochidiatus requires well-draining soil and a pot with generous drain holes. Avoid letting the pot sit in water, as this can lead to excessive moisture and root rot. Fertilizing can be done once per month during the growing season. Water with caution, every two weeks or when you notice the soil is completely dry. During winter, suspend all watering and fertilizing. In extremely hot temperatures, your plant might need a bit more water than necessary. If you want to extend your succulent family, propagation can easily be done by offsets.
Are you growing Claret Cup cacti? Share your experience with us in the comments!