Echinocactus horizonthalonius care infographicEchinocactus horizonthalonius plants are unbranched barrel-shaped cactuses that grow in tropical regions. Even though Echinocactus horizonthalonius is hardy and easy to grow, you need to pay attention to its needs.

Echinocactus Horizonthalonius How to Take Care



In this article, you will learn why you should grow Echinocactus horizonthalonius and also how to cultivate and propagate it.

Echinocactus Horizonthalonius: Important Details

The Echinocactus horizonthalonius has other names, such as Turks head cactus, Blue barrel cactus, Devilshead, Eagle’s claw, Horse maimer, Visnaga meloncillo, Eagle claw cactus, Horse crippler, etc. It is a cactus species that is native to South-Western states in the United States and Northern Mexico. These special plants grow in soil rich in limestone.

– History of Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

In 1839, an explorer called Charles Antoine Lemaire was the first to collect some Eagle claw cacti. They were growing in the Chihuahuan desert. The Sonoran desert is also a good habitat for Echinocactus horizonthalonius.

Over the years, Echinocactus horizonthalonius has been gaining popularity in places outside its natural habitat because of its various uses. Some uses of Echinocactus horizonthalonius are:

  • Ornamental plant: The most common use of Echinocactus horizonthalonius is as an ornamental plant. This beautiful but weird-looking cactus will surely grab the attention of your visitors.
  • Prevention of pests: Planting Echinocactus horizonthalonius in the borders of your garden or home can prevent some pests, such as rats, from entering your garden.
  • Oxygen: Echinocactus horizonthalonius has a special kind of photosynthesis called CAM photosynthesis. While other plants produce oxygen in the presence of light, Echinocactus horizonthalonius produces oxygen at night. This means that if you grow Echinocactus horizonthalonius as an indoor houseplant, you get to enjoy fresh air at night.

That’s a lot of uses, right? Continue reading to learn how to identify Echinocactus horizonthalonius.

– How To Identify the Eagle Claw Cactus

Here are some features to help you identify Echinocactus horizonthalonius when you see one:

Eagle Claw Cactus

  • Plant Physiology: Echinocactus horizonthalonius is a small unbranched grey-green or blue-gray cactus with a barrel shape. The shape changes slightly and can be more spherical, flat-topped, columnar, or hemispherical. It can grow 8 inches wide and 18 inches tall. The body of the Eagle claw cacti is made of some curving sections with areoles.
  • Spines: The areolas have up to 10 spines each (usually eight). Each spine can grow up to 1.5 inches tall. They can be pink, brown, or green.
  • Flowers: The flower of Echinocactus horizonthalonius is either magenta or pink. It is usually 2.5-3.5 inches wide. The flowers bloom during the day and then close at night. Echinocactus horizonthalonius usually blooms in June and (sometimes) late summer.
  • Fruits: The Eagle claw cactus has a pink or red fruit covered in hairs.

Clearly, the most distinct feature of Echinocactus horizonthalonius is its shape, which makes it look like a barrel with a lot of spines.

Echinocactus Horizonthalonius Care Tips: Pay Attention to Its Needs

Knowing the looks and uses of Echinocactus horizonthalonius will surely attract you to the plant. If you have decided to grow some Eagle claw cacti, here are some essential tips for you.

– Preparation of Potting Mix or Soil for Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

Like other cactus species, Echinocactus horizonthalonius needs a well-draining soil or potting mix. An extra need of Echinocactus horizonthalonius is limestone in the potting mix. You can buy a cactus potting mix from a gardening shop but, to avoid using the wrong potting mix, consider making it yourself.

Soil for Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

Here’s how to:

  1. Get the materials: To make a potting mix for Eagle claw cacti, you will need two-part perlite, one-part vermicomposting (or any finished compost), two-part loam, two-part river coarse-grained sand, and some crumbs of limestone and expanded clay.
  2. Mix the materials: Make sure that they are properly mixed.
  3. Sterilize the potting mix: You should sterilize the potting mix in an oven for 30 minutes or more. This step helps protect your Echinocactus horizonthalonius from bacteria and other harmful microbes.

That was easy, wasn’t it? Now, it is time to plant your Eagle claw cactus.

– Planting Your Eagle Claw Cactus

You can buy Eagle claw cactus seedlings from gardening shops. These seedlings usually come with suitable pots that they can grow in for one or two years before repotting.

Planting Eagle Claw Cactus

If you want to start your Echinocactus horizonthalonius with seeds, follow the steps below to plant the seeds:

  1. Pour the sterile potting mix into a pot (at least 8 inches wide per seed).
  2. Cover the potting mix with a thin layer of crushed seashells.
  3. Place the seeds on the seashells.
  4. Hand-spray the seeds with water. Do so gently, so that you do not displace the seeds.
  5. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting mix.

You should continue watering the seeds once or twice weekly until they germinate and grow; it will take less than two months. Note that the seeds of Echinocactus horizonthalonius have a low germination rate, so you should consider starting with a lot of seeds to increase your chances of having enough seedlings.

– Echinocactus Horizonthalonius Light Requirements

As a cactus plant, Echinocactus horizonthalonius needs as much light as it can receive.

Echinocactus Horizonthalonius Light Requirements

Echinocactus horizonthalonius grows in deserts where they get a lot of sunlight, so it needs more than six hours of direct sunlight daily.

– Temperature Requirements

The best temperature to grow the Eagle claw cactus is 68 – 77° F (20 – 25 °C). Sometimes, you may notice that your Echinocactus horizonthalonius has stopped growing. If it looks fine, increase the temperature it receives to 86 °F (30 °C) to fix the growth rate.

– Water Requirements

Echinocactus horizonthalonius needs little to no water at all, just like other succulent plants. In its natural habitat, the Eagle claw cactus receives only eight to 12 inches of water yearly.

Watering Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

However, you should water your Echinocactus horizonthalonius in summer. Use a hand spray to spray the body and spines with water. You can also water the plant through the roots, but make sure that the potting mix or soil is well-drained to prevent rot.

In autumn and winter, you should not water your Eagle claw cactus, as overwatering can kill the plant or stunt its growth. Just allow your plants to get moisture from the rain in autumn.

– Fertilizer Requirements

Should you fertilize your Echinocactus horizonthalonius? Well, you should. In spring and summer, you should spray a balanced fertilizer (low in nitrogen) on your cactus once per month.

Echinocactus Horizonthalonius Fertilizer

Echinocactus horizonthalonius prefers nutrient-depleted soil over nutrient-rich soil, so you may choose not to fertilize your plants in the first year as the potting mix that you made earlier is rich in nutrients.

– Repotting Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

You should repot your Eagle claw cactus when it has outgrown its pot. You can also repot it because of some problems, such as excessive nutrient depletion of the potting mix, rot, and build-up of moisture in the potting mix.

To repot your Echinocactus horizonthalonius, follow the steps below:

  • Wait until the potting mix is completely dry, so that the plant will be easier to remove.
  • Using thick hand gloves, carefully remove some soil from the pot to reveal the roots of your Eagle claw cactus.
  • Gently remove the plant from the pot.
  • Check for dead roots and prune them off.
  • Dust off potting mix stuck on the root.
  • Plant the Eagle claw cactus on another pot.

Repotting Echinocactus horizonthalonius is easy. Just make sure that you protect yourself from its spines using gloves. You should repot young Echinocactus horizonthalonius after two years of planting, and older plants every five to six years.

Propagation of Echinocactus Horizonthalonius: Getting More Eagle Claw Cacti

You can propagate Echinocactus horizonthalonius with its seeds or by grafting. The easiest method of propagating the Eagle claw cactus is by planting its seeds.

Propagation of Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

To propagate by seeds, you should wait until the fruit of your Echinocactus horizonthalonius is ripe. After ripening, you should wait for some weeks, so that the fruit becomes overripe and looks like it wants to wither or rot away. This is the best time to collect seeds for planting. Waiting for the fruit to become overripe also increases the germination rate of the seeds.

When you have harvested the seeds for planting, you can plant them right away by using the planting tips mentioned above or you can store them. To store the seeds of Echinocactus horizonthalonius, clean them and dry them using the heat of the sun. Keep them in a dry place until you are ready to plant them.

Possible Difficulties You Can Encounter When Growing Eagle Claw Cactus

Even though Echinocactus horizonthalonius is very easy to cultivate and propagate, you may encounter some difficulties along the way. Here are some problems associated with Echinocactus horizonthalonius and ways to solve them.

– Pest Infestation

Echinocactus horizonthalonius can be disturbed by various pests.

Pest on Echinocactus Horizonthalonius

Examples of pests that can harm your plant are:

  • Aphids
  • Mealybugs
  • Scale
  • Whitefly

When your Eagle claw cactus is infested with pests, you should first identify the pest and spray a pesticide to kill them. To prevent issues, you should protect your plants from pests.

– Stem Wrinkling

If you notice that the stem of your Echinocactus horizonthalonius is drying out and wrinkling, you should spray it with water droplets, as that is a sign of lack of water. Spray the plant with water or thoroughly bath the plant with water. Just make sure that the potting mix drains water quickly.

– Spine Problem

Old spines will crumble and new ones will be thin and pale. If you notice this in your cactus, you should give your cactus more light. Change the position of your cactus so that it has access to more direct lighting.

Spine Problem of Eagle Claw Cactus

In the absence of sufficient sunlight, cactus lose their spines and die slowly. Placing your cactus in a south-facing windowsill where it can receive excess afternoon sun will solve the problem. Also, you should fertilize your plant and check for improvements.


Rot is caused by moisture. If your cactus is getting too much water and the potting mix is not draining off the water quickly, fungi can infect your cactus and cause it to rot.

If your Echinocactus horizonthalonius has rot, you should remove it from its pot, prune out any dead roots and rotting spines, then plant it in a new well-drained potting mix. Make sure that your cactus does not stay wet four hours after planting, as cacti prefer dry soil to a wet one.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I tell if my Echinocactus horizonthalonius is healthy?

To assess the health of your Echinocactus horizonthalonius, examine the plant for signs of discoloration, rot, or pests. Check the soil moisture levels and ensure it’s receiving adequate sunlight and water.

2. What are some companion plants for Echinocactus horizonthalonius?

Some suitable companion plants for Echinocactus horizonthalonius include Agave, Yucca, and Opuntia. These plants have similar environmental requirements and complement the aesthetic of the Echinocactus.

3. How long does Echinocactus take to grow?

Echinocactus horizonthalonius is a slow-growing cactus and can take several years to reach maturity. Factors such as environmental conditions and care practices can impact the growth rate.


Do you think that you can now plant, care for, and propagate your Echinocactus horizonthalonius by yourself? Here are some useful points that you should remember:

  • Echinocactus horizonthalonius is best known as Eagle claw cactus and can also be called Blue barrel cactus, Devilshead, and Horse maimer.
  • As a cactus species, you should give your Echinocactus horizonthalonius access to more than six hours of sunlight.
  • Echinocactus horizonthalonius prefers a nutrient-depleted and dry soil to a nutrient-rich soil with moisture
  • Rot, spine problem, and other problems you can face when growing Echinocactus horizonthalonius are easily corrected in a proper light, temperature, and water level.
  • If you notice that your Echinocactus horizonthalonius has stopped growing, expose it to 86 °F (30 °C) to fix the growth.

Echinocactus horizonthalonius is an awesome plant, right? You should go to a gardening shop and get your Echinocactus horizonthalonius seedlings right away!

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