The Echinopsis, commonly known as Sea Urchin Plant, is a species of cactus with brightly colored flowers. It is native to various regions of South America, where it gets its name from the spiny, urchin-like protrusions on the surface of many of its species. It is also sometimes called “Hedgehog Cactus” for similar reasons.
The flowers are typically tall, showy, and vary wildly in color. They are often quite large, strikingly so, and are borne on small stalks. These gorgeous flowers set this genus apart from all the others and are also the primary reason why this plant is so highly valued among gardeners.
Echinopsis Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Sea Urchin Cactus, Hedgehog Cactus, Easter Lily Cactus|
|Native Range||South America|
|Common Varieties||E. ancistrophora, E. oxygona, E. eyriesii, E. subdenudata, E. cristata|
|Mature Size||Species Dependent|
|Propagation methods||by cuttings, by offsets|
Not all species of Sea Urchin Cactus are suited to be used as houseplants. Some boast considerable columnar growth that is simply too tall to be allowed indoors. But many species within this genus are perfect indoors, even as desktop plants. They are often small and round, fitting inside tiny pots with ease. On top of that, they are easy plants to care for and make great additions to any garden or indoor arrangement.
Light and Location
Like many other succulents, Echinopsis appreciate strong light. They appreciate a little bit of shade, but they need at least six hours of sun each day, as long as you acclimate the plant gradually to direct sunlight. A sunny windowsill will do nicely. You can even move the container outdoors if you want, but only if the nights aren’t too cold.
Echinopsis want to be watered thoroughly in a fast-draining potting mix. In fact, you should only water them when the soil feels dry to the touch. A good way to tell if it’s time to water is to stick your finger in the soil. If it feels cool and moist, you can wait a little longer before watering. But if it feels warm and dry, you should water them right away. In winter, don’t water at all. Instead, mist the pot occasionally to provide the necessary moisture.
Proper drainage is the name of the game here; if the water is allowed to sit for any length of time, the cactus will experience significant stress and might die out.
Most species of Sea Urchin Cactus prefer warmer temperatures. Therefore, try to grow them in a location where the temperature will remain consistently between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit in winter but don’t let it get below freezing.
These cacti prefer dry environments. Too much moisture can become a problem, but it rarely gets to that level. So unless you’re purposefully increasing humidity, there is no need to worry.
In general, a balanced fertilizer every two to four weeks in the growing season is optimal. However, when fertilizing your Echinopsis, it is essential to avoid over-fertilizing. This can be harmful to the plant and cause it to become stressed. Also, don’t fertilize during the winter months; it will only cause problems.
Different Species of Echinopsis
These species mostly share similar primary care requirements. However, some varieties may need slightly different light or water levels, so it’s always best to check the specific care instructions for your plant. The Echinopsis genus has over 120 different cacti under its umbrella. Some popular ones include E. ancistrophora, E. oxygona, E. eyriesii, E. subdenudata, E. cristata and more!
Sea urchin cacti can be propagated by both offsets or cuttings. Offsets are the easiest way to propagate and likely will be the method you use most often. New offsets develop at the base of a mature plant and can easily be broken off or cut with a sharp blade. Offsets will root in the soil in three weeks if kept warm.
To propagate by cuttings, you will need to remove a stem from the parent plant and then allow it to callus over for a few days. Next, pick the narrowest part of the stem to cut. Once the cutting has dried, you can place it in a cactus mix and water it. The cuttings should start to grow roots in a few weeks.
Potting and Repotting Echinopsis
When potting or repotting Sea Urchin Cactus, it’s important to use a soil mix that drains well. A cactus mix or an equal parts mix of potting soil, sand, and perlite should work well. It’s also essential to ensure the pot has a drainage hole, as these plants don’t like to sit in water.
Sea Urchin Cactus usually needs repotting every 2-3 years or when the pot becomes too crowded for the plants to grow correctly. When repotting, be sure to use a fresh soil mix that is light and well-drained. Once you’re ready, tease out the cactus from its original pot and clean the excess soil from the roots. Next, place the cactus in its new pot, water thoroughly, and wait for it to take root.
These cacti are generally pest-free.
How to Grow and Care Sea Urchin Cactus: A Complete Guide (Video)
When To Water Echinopsis After Repotting?
Don’t water your plant immediately after repotting. Instead, wait for about a week to allow the roots to settle before watering. For the first few sessions, be stingy with the water and give less than you usually do. Then, once you’re confident the plant has established itself in the new pot, return to the routine.
How To Get Echinopsis To Multiply?
There are two methods: cuttings and offsets. Offsets are small mini-plants that resemble the parent plant and grow from its base. They can be easily twisted off and planted in a fresh pot. Treat them as you would a mature plant that’s been freshly repotted.
How To Care For Echinopsis Cactus?
Place the plant in full sunlight with occasional shade from the scorching sun. Give them plenty of water in the summer, but allow it to drain quickly. In winter, don’t give more than a light misting of water on rare occasions. Then, keep them warm and dry and fertilize in the growing season.