Echinopsis (ek-in-OP-sis) is a genus in the Cactaceae family with various species all hailing from South America.
The plants are also known by the common names:
- Sea Urchin Cactus
- Easter Lily Cactus
- Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus is also called the ‘Hedgehog cactus”)
They are popular due to their size and unique appearance of flowers.
It is also known as Trichocereus (torch cactus) with hundreds of hybrid varieties bred exclusively for the colors of their flowers and forms.
Echinopsis species are hardy plants that grow well like many cacti and succulents while being left alone.
Size & Growth
These plants are fairly large, growing up to 5’ feet in height. They have an easy and moderate growth rate with tubes that about up 10” long and bloom with flowers that open during the evening.
Flowering and Fragrance
The sea-urchin cactus flowers are slightly fragrant and can be either white or pink.
The plant is characterized by thick ribbed stems that are thick and barrel like in shape.
Light & Temperature
This is a light loving plant and benefits from strong light (not full sun) during its growing season.
If your plant is indoors and you want to introduce it to the outdoors, you will have to do so slowly.
If you expose the plant to sudden sunlight, you will risk scorching the leaves.
An ideal temperature for this plant to rest in the winter is 50°-55° degrees Fahrenheit. In the spring, move the plant to a warmer location.
It can easily live in a south-facing window. Stand the plant in a sunny spot in the garden through the summer.
Watering and Feeding
The plant does not require a lot of water. You should allow the soil to dry out between waterings before you water it again.
When you do water the plant, you should do so thoroughly so the plant is completely watered through.
Don’t leave any water standing though as it can be damaging for the plant. Stop watering altogether in the winter but if you feel the plant’s lacking some luster, you can spritz it with water.
Sea-Urchin Cactus will need to be fed during its growth period with a cacti fertilizer. Do not feed the plant during the winter months.
Soil & Transplanting
This plant requires a well-drained, porous rich soil mix. A good DIY cactus mix or a commercial cactus and succulent potting mix will also work.
When repotting cactus, repot during the warmer months. Make sure the soil is dry before removing Echinopsis plants from the pot.
Remove any rotting or dead roots before repotting. This gives the plant the proper treatment before placing it into a new pot.
Once repotted, allow the plant and potting soil to sit dry for about six to seven days. This reduces the chances of root rot.
After six to seven days, begin to provide a little water and begin caring for the plant as you would for other sea urchin cacti.
Grooming and Maintenance
This is a fairly self-sufficient, trouble-free plant and does not require a lot of maintenance.
You just need to make sure it’s not at risk of overwatering or else there will be problems with flowering.
Interesting Echinopsis Cacti include:
- Echinopsis mamillosa var. kermesina (Bolivia cactus)
- Echinopsis chamaecereus (Peanut cactus)
- Trichocereus pachanoi (San Pedro cactus)
How to Propagate Sea Urchin Cactus
This plant can be propagated using offsets.
These are clustered around the bottom of the mother plant and should be cut off at the most narrow part of the plant.
Allow the cuttings to dry and form a callous. This might take a few weeks and varies depending on the size of the cut.
Next plant the offsets in well-draining cactus soil.
During this phase before the cutting has taken root, keep the soil moist and in a warm environment.
It takes a few weeks for the cuttings to take root. Once they do, move the cactus to its permanent home.
Sea Urchin Cactus Pest or Disease Problems
This plant is generally free of pests and diseases.
The main thing to look out for is possible root and stem rot that happens if the plant receives too much water.
Suggested Sea Urchin Cactus Uses
The plants from the genus Echinopsis grow both as indoor plants and as part of a gardenscape.
The unique appearance of the cactus makes it an interesting addition to any landscape and adds some texture and color.