Claret Cup Cactus

Claret Cup Cactus Overview

Description Widely praised as one of the easiest cacti to grow, claret cup cactus is known by many different common names across its native range. At home in the desert southwest, claret cup is also known as kingcup cactus, mound hedgehog cactus, Mojave cactus, and strawberry cactus. Regardless of what you call it, this mounded cactus thrives in heat and drought. It also lights up rock gardens and desert areas April through June with deep orange, nearly scarlet waxy blossoms atop spiny stems. In fact, mature plants unfurl hundreds of flowers over the course of several weeks. Note that claret cup has a reputation of blooming best following exceptionally cool and dry winters.
Genus Name Echinocereus triglochidiatus
Common Name Claret Cup Cactus
Plant Type Perennial
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 1 to 2 feet
Flower Color Orange, Red
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Spring Bloom
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant

Landscaping With Claret Cup Cactus

Plant claret cup cactus with other cold-hardy succulent and cacti species for a garden that thrives in dry environment and boasts dramatic texture and structure all year long. Choose cacti and succulent species for your landscape that are native to your area. A few easy-to-grow companions for claret cup cactus include yucca, agave, and spiny star cactus. Several varieties of sedum are also well-suited for drought-tolerant xeric plantings. Soften the strong lines and spikey nature of cacti and succulents with airy gaura, sundrops, and agastache.

Claret Cup Cactus Care

Plant cactus in full sun and sand or soil that is extremely well-drained—or risk root rot. Make sure the planting bed is well away from play areas in which spines could cause injury. In cool regions choose a planting spot next to a south or west facing wall, which will provide extra protection in winter. Claret cup cactus thrives in lean soil, so do not add compost to the planting hole. Plant each cactus carefully, spreading roots out over the soil and situating the plant so its base rests on top of the soil. Mulch plants with a ½- to 1-inch-thick layer of pea-size gravel around the base of the plant to protect it from soggy soil during the winter months.

After planting claret cup, water it well. Then water it every 5 to 7 days for the first month or so after transplanting. Continue watering every 2 to 4 weeks during spring and summer if there has been no rain. Stop watering in early fall so plants can begin to dehydrate and prepare for winter. Keep claret cup dry all winter long.

See how to grow desert plants on your property.

Plant Claret Cup Cactus With:

Pine Muhly Muhlenbergia

Most muhlygrasses are high on drama, offering their beautiful floral display to dryland gardens. They have a soft, airy appearance that is welcome among agaves and other rough-texture plants that permeate low-water gardens. Pine muhly, in particular, grows best in fast-draining soil that is low in nutrients -- a sandy soil is perfect. Avoid heavy clay and wet locations.

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