Ferocactus stainesii

Mexican Fire Barrel, Arizona Barrel Cactus


An imposing cactus with clusters of marvelous pink-red spines adorning each rib. Maturing plants bear a crown of burnt orange flowers in summer, and eventually form a clump of chunky columns up to 3m tall. Easy care pot plant for a sunny conservatory or even outdoors in the mildest parts of the country if kept dry and frost free for the colder months.


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Origin: Chihuahuan Desert in Northern Mexico
Genus: Ferocactus
Species / Cultivar: stainesii
Common Name: Mexican Fire Barrel, Arizona Barrel Cactus
Synonym: Ferocactus pilosus, Stenocactus multicostatus

Plant Biography

Ferocactus stainesii, commonly known as the Arizona barrel cactus or Stenocactus multicostatus, boasts a rich botanical history. Described by American botanist Edward Palmer in 1872 during expeditions to Mexico, it was later named in honour of British botanist Herbert William Oliver Staines.

As a member of the Cactaceae family, this species thrives in the arid, rocky landscapes of central Mexico, specifically in states like San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas, and Aguascalientes. It is widely cultivated around the world for its beautiful red and orange hues.


Ferocactus stainesii
Light: Direct
This plant likes as much sun as possible. Best placed in direct sunlight in a bright window.
Soil: Cacti and Succulent Mix
Enjoys a drier soil with a high ratio of drainage material.
Growth Rate: Slow
Expect to see quite small amounts of growth over the years.
Water Requirement: Minimal Watering
In summer water sparingly when soil has dried out significantly. Little to no water in winter.
Maintenance: Low
Requires no attention beyond correct position and watering. An ideal starter plant!
Situation: Full Sun
Wants direct, unfiltered sunlight most of the day, such as a south facing position.
Eventual Height: 2m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 0.5m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Half Hardy
Will need protection from frosts in order to survive winter, eg. with fleece jacket.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Ferocactus stainesii thrives in  full sunlight so give it the brightest windowsill you can find. They also work well in a sunny greenhouse or conservatory, but be sure to place it where nobody is likely to brush past the spines!. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry completely between watering to prevent root rot. In the mildest regions, you can try this outside if given very sharp drainage and protected from winter rains.

The Mexican Fire Barrel cactus is a slow grower so pruning should never really be necessary. Over time they can bulk up so be sure to give them a weighty container so they don’t become top-heavy.



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