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Echinopsis is a cactus genus with well over 120 species (which is a lot for a cactus) that, due to their exceptionally large, colorful flowers, are popular in Southwest landscapes and as container plants.

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More Information About Echinopsis

Echinopsis is a cactus genus with well over 120 species (which is a lot for a cactus) that, due to their exceptionally large, colorful flowers and succulent nature, are popular in Southwest landscapes and as container plants.

Cactus collectors love Echinopsis because it is a beautiful succulent and easy to hybridize and they have created hundreds of hybrids. Like its cousin Opuntia, Echinopsis varies widely in form from small flat-padded plants to globose plants up to tree-like giants. Members of this genus also vary in their preferred habitat, although xeric environments are the norm.

When most people think of growing cacti in the landscape, they usually think cacti can only be grown in the Desert Southwest. This is true as a general rule but some species of Echinopsis are exceptions and can tolerate the humidity of our East Coast summers as well as our winter cold. The reason for this flexibility is that the genus Echinopsis is spread over a wide range of wild montane habitats from Chile to Mexico. Certain Echinopsis species will do fine in an East Coast garden as long as the soil conditions are righti.e., sloped, rocky and well-drained.

Here in the Southeast US it is not cold that kills Echinopsis but rather wet winter soil. Plan accordingly by building a well-drained, sandy raised bed, hillside bed or rock garden for your Echinopsis, and it will be happy. Try growing Echinopsis in a Southwest-themed garden along with Agave, Yucca, Sedum, Sempervivium, Echeveria, Graptopetalum, and Opuntia. We think you will like it.

The genus name Echinopsis is derived from the Latin for "looks like a hedgehog" which is due to the spiny and rotund nature of many species. Taxonomists have tried merging other cactus genera into Echinopsis, including one other cactus that we occasionally sell, Trichocereus. A couple of Echinopsis species (E. pachanoi and E. peruviana) produce the hallucinogenic drug mescaline. Although we do not sell these for obvious reasons, we hope that you will experience the same spiritual awakening from growing our ornamental Echinopsis as the Native Americans did from the psychotropic species. When you are ready to buy Echinopsis for your garden, check out our online list of Echinopsis for sale.