What is a Candy Cactus?

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  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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A candy cactus is a type of plant with a spiny texture and sharp needles that is related to the cactus family. The scientific name for candy cactus is Echinocactus Texensis. This plant thrives in moderate temperatures and is indigenous to the American southwest.

Averaging about 1 foot in diameter (nearly 31 cm), and between 7-10 inches in height (approximately 24 cm), a candy cactus is also known as horse crippler because its spines can cause damage to horses. The spiny needles grow close to the ground.

This plant is an extremely adaptable and hardy variety. It grows and matures at a rather slow rate. This helps the candy cactus achieve its longevity. Some varieties of this plant, also known as a devil's pincushion, may live for 100 years.

Flowers on this cactus are light pink with a darker center of orange. The blooms range from about 2-3 inches across (6-7 cm). The flowers on the candy cactus plant will typically bloom around late April to mid May. This plant thrives in full sunlight with some shade for several hours per day.

Some varieties of the candy cactus may have multiple "heads." This may account for another one of its nicknames, the barrel cactus. The sharp and prickly spines are a natural impediment to thwart the invasion of would-be pests such as rodents and small animals.


This plant is easily maintained and can be grown without much fuss. In its natural habitat, this type of cactus generally grows in limestone soil. Therefore, when cultivating, it is best to add an alloy of limestone to the soil.

Candy cactus typically has no branches, only prickly spines along its dark green foliage. Along the stems of this evergreen plant, one will find a woolly type of substance that aids in protection against the strong desert sun. It will show about eight to ten "ribs." As with most all varieties of cacti, this plant stores water to some degree.

This plant does not require a lot of water, so minimal waterings are best. In fact, this cactus will need little to no water in winter months. Plenty of drainage is recommended as well. About ten faded tan-colored spines will emerge from the stems of a mature candy cactus.


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Post 1

The candy cactus is a beautiful succulent that looks great in rock gardens. My friend who lives in Arizona has several, and her garden looks great.

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