Echinocereus engelmannii, otherwise known as Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus or Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus, is a species of flowering cacti in the family Cactaceae. This cactus can be found mostly in desert regions of the southwestern United States and several areas near Mexico including Sonora, California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada.
In their natural habitat, Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti are highly popular and used very often as ornamental landscape plants. They gained their reputation thanks to their easy-going and adaptable style to almost any environmental conditions around the world.
Many gardeners grow these beauties in pots, planting them in well-draining and aerated soil and providing with lots of warmth and light. With proper care and lots of love, Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti can make for great companions for decades.
Read on to learn more about growing, watering, and propagating Echinocereus Engelmanii.
About Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus
- Hedgehog Cacti grow in various dry habitats from near sea level up to an altitude of 7874 feet (2400 m). These species are abundant due to their wide range of spread.
- If you can reach through their spines, you will find pleasant-looking fruits that are also edible. It is said that their fruits taste like strawberries and are very attractive to birds and rodents.
- Like most cacti, they do well in bright and direct light all-year-round. These cacti prefer light shade when young and full sun exposure at maturity. Strong sunlight encourages spine production.
- Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti thrive in lots of warmth and even extreme heat, but some varieties can be quite frost-tolerant for short periods. They will bloom only if they are provided with adequate winter conditions for dormancy.
- Hedgehog Cacti grow mostly in well-drained deserts, grass, chaparral, mountain ranges, and also rocky, sandy, or gravelly hillsides.
- To offer growing conditions that are similar to their natural habitat, it’s best to plant them in suitable potting mixes that have excellent drainage and aeration.
- Hedgehog cacti thrive in deep containers that have drainage holes at the bottom. These pots will help their swollen roots to accommodate more easily in their new growing medium and improve drainage.
- There are no toxic effects known for these Hedgehog cacti, but their spines can be too sharp and dangerous for pets and children.
- Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti can be grown among other desert species of cacti and even succulents with similar environmental requirements.
Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus Features: An Overview
- Hedgehog cacti belong to the Echinocereus genus that contains about 70 species of ribbed and cylindrical-shaped cacti that come in small to medium sizes. Usually, their bloomings are large and followed by edible fruits.
- Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti grow at a pretty slow pace and form a somewhat open clump of large and spiny stems. The clumps can spread out as large as 3.3 feet (1 m).
- These clumping columnar cacti produce 3 to 60 branches. They have 11 to 14 low obtuse, flattened, and tubercle-like ribs with slightly undulate crests.
- Their stems are mostly light green, cylindrical, and reach between 3.9 and 11.8 inches (10-30 cm) in height and 2 to 3.9 inches (5-10 cm) in diameter.
- Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti produce both central and radial spines that can be of different sizes and colors, such as white, grey, yellow, reddish, or brown. They grow straight, twisted, or curved in pairs of 8-20 in each areole.
- During their blooming period, in spring, Hedgehog cacti exhibit flowers that last for about five days. Usually, they are closing at night and reopen when the sun rises again.
- The bloomings of Hedgehog cacti can be different shades of pink on the same cactus and measure up to 2.8 inches (7 cm) in diameter. Some varieties may have various other colors, including lavender, purple, or even bright reddish.
- From May to July, Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti produce red to orange, spherical-shaped, and pulpy fruits. They come in a beautiful mixture of white, pink, and red.e
Growing Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus
If you could not resist adding another cactus to your collection it’s time to learn more about its growth requirements. There are a few essential aspects you need to consider if you want to grow and care for Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti. It’s worth mentioning that Hedgehog cacti are not so different from most desert species so they will thrive in conditions that mimic their natural habitat. Stay with us and you will see for yourself how low-maintenance these cacti are!
First things first, your Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti prefer full sunlight all day. When first planting these spiny cacti, make sure you choose a spot where they can receive plenty of bright and direct light. If you grow Hedgehog cacti indoors, place them in the brightest locations in your home, such as near south or west-facing windows. Younger plants will require light shade daily, as they are not so established and can suffer a lot under full sun exposure. Outdoors, Hedgehog cacti will show the best results if they are protected from harsh sunlight during the hot months.
Like all desert species of cacti, Engelmann’s Hedgehog is happy when it is grown in as much warmth as you can provide it with. This cactus can tolerate extremely hot temperatures, and it is also pretty cold hardy in temperatures that drop to 14 °F (-10 °C), but only for short periods. If you live in a region with harsh winters or cooler temperatures, bring your Hedgehog cactus inside and keep it in a warm room until spring.
Planting Engelmann’s Hedgehog Cactus
Hedgehog cacti are susceptible to root rot, so they must be grown in soil with excellent drainage. A loose potting mix specifically designed for cacti and succulent is the ideal growing medium for these cacti. To improve drainage, you can add a reasonable quantity of perlite or pebbles to the substrate.
In the wild, Hedgehog cacti grow in poor soil and do not require many nutrients to thrive. However, if you want to boost their growth, feed them with a liquid fertilizer that is high in potassium during their active growing season. It should be more than enough if you fertilize them once every month.
They grow at a very slow pace, so repotting is necessary only to give them a fresh growing environment. You can repot your Hedgehog cactus in the same container filled with suitable potting mix once every year in spring. When the plants start to outgrow their pot, transplant them in another that is slightly larger than the current one.
Although they are generally pest-free, your Hedgehog cacti can be occasionally bothered by spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects. While caring for these cacti, take some time to inspect their stems for pest infestations. You can treat the infected parts with a cotton pad dipped in rubbing alcohol, neem oil sprays, or suitable insecticides and pesticides.
Watering Hedgehog Cactus
Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti are desert species that do well with little quantities of water and can tolerate long periods of drought. The frequency of watering these cacti may vary depending on the environmental conditions in which they are grown. Make sure you always check the soil in-between waterings to avoid over-watering your plants. When the soil is completely dry, this is a common indicator that your cacti are thirsty.
During their active growing period, Hedgehog cacti usually require watering once a week. In summer or extremely hot temperatures, your cacti may need watering more often than usual. Moreover, they become dormant in winter, so you must water these plants less frequently starting from October to early spring.
Propagating Hedgehog Cactus
How nice it would be to several gorgeous cactus clumps and to be able to offer them as gifts! Well, we have great news! Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti can be propagated at your home through seeds and cuttings. And if your cacti have more than one fruit or little branches, why not making more babies a gift for a beloved one?
Although propagation using seeds will show results pretty slow, both methods are very simple and can be done by any type of gardener no matter how experienced he is. Be careful, though, as these cacti are quite spiny and you don’t want to hurt yourself in the process. All you have to do is to equip with one or two pairs of gardening gloves and let us guide you through the whole cactus propagation process.
The cuttings must be taken in spring or summer when the plants are most vigorous. Look for healthy offsets at the base of their mother plant and remove them carefully with a sharp and sterilized knife. Before replanting the offsets, they should be allowed to callous well in a warm and shaded location for several days. Fill a pot with a fresh cactus mix that is already slightly damp and transplant the cuttings into it. Place the pot in a bright location and make sure you water the offsets when the soil feels dry to the touch until a strong root system is developed.
To propagate Engelmann’s Hedgehog cacti by seeds, you must first collect them from their fruits. The seeds can be sowed at the surface of the potting soil and will germinate in about 14 to 28 days if kept at 68 °F (20 °C). Keep in mind that the seedlings do not tolerate dry locations and strong light, so place the propagating pot in a suitable area once the germination occurs.
Now that you know how easy is to grow and care for Hedgehog cacti, we know that is almost impossible to resist them! With their very little demands and adorable appearance, these cacti worth the wait for their mesmerizing flowers to show up. Just make some room around your household for these beauties and you will not regret it!
Are you growing Hedgehog cacti? Share your experience in the comments!