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Caring For A Hedgehog Cactus

Caring For A Hedgehog Cactus

Caring for a hedgehog cactus can be easy peasy if not over watered, planted in the right type of soil and placed in the right light.  There’s about 60 species of hedgehog cactus with some bearing red, pink, purple or yellow flowers, and some that even have edible fruit.  In fact this cactus got its name because the short spiny stems resemble a hedgehog.  In addition, the echinocereus coccineus (the Scarlet hedgehog) is also the most popular. 

Photo: Andie Cumber

Admittedly, this cactus is known to come in unusual shapes and spiny textures.  Therefore we decided to get two.  As with any hedgehog cactus, it adapts indoors and outdoors.  So, the unusual shaped hedgehog we placed in the kitchen and the globular shaped hedgehog we placed outside.  As a rule, it can take the hedgehog cactus up to five years before it produces blooms or fruit so let the countdown begin! 


Hedgehog Cactus: aka claret cup cactus, arizona hedgehog, white-spine claret-cup cactus,  

Botanical Name & Family: Echinocereus coccineus – the scarlet hedgehog from the cactaceae family

Other Hedgehog Species: Echinocereus stramineus – the strawberry cactus, Echinocereus engelmannii – The engelmann’s hedgehog, & Echinocereus triglochidiatus (claret cup cactus).

Photo : Shutterstock

How To Care For A Hedgehog Cactus

Light: Indirect full sunlight preferable near a western facing window

Benefits: Improves air quality and traps water in the spines.  It’s also a super food that lowers cholesterol, fights diabetes, and reduces inflammation and is high in antioxidants.

Soil: Use cactus soil with a mix of 60% vermiculite, 20% peat moss + 20% sandy soil.   A mixture of this type will help to avoid an oxygen deficiency   The best pH value is 6-7.
Watering: It’s drought resistant so only water when the soil is completely dry.  Excessive watering or if the roots are sitting in an accumulation of water can lead to root rot.  So, make sure the pot has adequate drain holes so the water can pass through easily.

Fertilizer: A low concentration liquid fertilizer can be used when you repot your hedgehog in the spring or fall.

Repotting: Repot once a year in the spring and loosen the soil.  Wait several days after repotting before watering.

Toxicity: Not toxic to animals, however the prickly spines can cause mouth irritation

How big will it grow: Most will grow about 12 inches and some have even grown up to 20 inches tall

Propagating: Use the seeding method in the spring or the division and grafting method.  

Temperature: Good in zones 10 and above. It grows best in temperatures from 68°F – 95°F and shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures lower than 50°F

Photo: Shutterstock

Lastly, when caring for a hedgehog cactus use protective leather gloves to avoid injury.  Meanwhile if you want to add another cactus to your plant collection check out my blog post on the prickly pear cactus.