Echinocereus reichenbachii complex

Submitted by Weiser on

The Echinocereus reichenbachii complex consists of five basic varieties/sub species. (note depending upon the source) The varieties are ; ssp. reichenbachii, ssp. albispinus, ssp. armatus, ssp. baileyi, and ssp. fitchii. (However many synonyms abound) -These are small cylindrical cacti from the Southern Great Plains states. They can have a single stem or form small clusters of upright stems. Their habitat is varied but they are basically cacti of the southern grasslands and scrublands of eastern NM, western TX and extending north into western OK and southern CO.

Echinocereus reichenbachii are sensitive to overwatering and need very good drainage to avoid rotting. They do require more summer moisture than true desert cacti to grow and produce flowers. They need to be kept dry and cool in winter. E. reichenbachii are very cold resistant from -10° to -25° C and can take lower temperatures for short periods of time. In the fall they will lose a lot of moisture an shrink in size. They become limp, soft, and lean over, this is normal. If you grow them in a container, resist the urge to water them and store them in a cool dry place. (closet, basement, entry, porch, or shed....)

Here are the subspecies I grow
1 Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. armatus
2 Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. reichenbachii
3 Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. albispinus
4 Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. baileyi


Submitted by RickR on Mon, 12/06/2010 - 19:18

Beautiful plants!

I have tiny seedlings of E. r. var. perbellus and E. r. var. rigidissimus from NARGS seed.  Where do these fit in the real taxonomy?

I'm not sure how well they will survive this winter, but at least this time the slugs didn't get them! 

Submitted by Weiser on Mon, 12/06/2010 - 20:25

I do not really know. It gets very confusing.

Echinocereus reichenbachii var. perbellus has been used as a synonym for all four of the subspecies I grow. (At one time or another/by one botanist or another)

Echinocereus reichenbachii rigidissimus is at this point in my understanding not a valid name.
"Echinocereus rigidissimus" is however a valid name at this point. It is a separate species very closely related to Echinocereus reichenbachii.

When I read the Efloras dissertation about Echinocereus reichenbachii it becomes obvious that there are no clear cut divisions and every thing is up for debate.

There did that clear or muddy the waters?

Submitted by Weiser on Tue, 12/07/2010 - 06:52

By the way your plump little green babies are cute. ;)
I hope they come through for you.

Were you going to try E. reichenbachii in the garden or in containers?

Submitted by RickR on Tue, 12/07/2010 - 20:46

Weiser wrote:

Were you going to try E. reichenbachii in the garden or in containers?

By they time they are big enough, they will be in both.  At the moment, I don't have a garden suitable for cactus.  All my cacti are in pots or troughs.

Submitted by Weiser on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 12:18

I have a feeling they need to be grown in pots in your frigid neck of the woods. Then you can tuck them in a cozy spot for the winter.

My brother in Minot, ND puts his potted cacti in an insulated storage cabnet for the winter. It is located in an unheated garage. He has it set up with a thermostat and small heater to keep the cabnet at 25-30F. The shelves are slated to allow circulation. He likes to wait until the plants are limp and dormant before he stores them away for the winter.
In the spring after acclimating them back into full sun, he moves them into pot in pot set ups in his beds.
It works well for him.

Submitted by RickR on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 20:11

Thanks for the info, John.  I have Echinocereus coccineus and Echinocereus viridifloris that have survived in pots and troughs under cover outside for several years.  But these babies are in the refrigerator now.  They were in the garage when temps were going below freezing outside, but I procrastinated longer than I should have, and they did experience temps of 23-25F in the garage before I put them in the fridge.  Being shrunken, they are even tinier, and it's hard to tell what's happening with them.  I guess time will tell...

Submitted by Weiser on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 20:42

The refrigerator idea is a good one.  :D  Cool, dry and dormant is the ticket. ;) I predict no damage at those temperatures. 8)

The cacti I grow outside experience temps as low as 15F on a regular basis with no ill effects. But much colder than 0 degrees for an extended period could take a few of the Echinocereus down for the count I'm afraid. About every ten years we get a -10F readings for several days in a row, that usually culls the herd.
As you say time will tell.

Submitted by Kelaidis on Fri, 12/17/2010 - 19:15

I just had to post a picture of a particularly fine clone of Echinocereus reichenbachii var. albispinus that did its thing last May at Denver Botanic Gardens. I have a half dozen forms of this at home. One can never have enough. The lace cactus is near the top of my favorite American wildflowers. It was once very common in southern Colorado, but the great drought years of 2000=2003 took a great toll and many of them perished.

Submitted by Mark McD on Fri, 12/17/2010 - 20:18

I might just have to start reconsidering my "no prickly plants" rule, you guys are working on me with all of this spiny eye candy! ;D

Submitted by RickR on Fri, 12/17/2010 - 22:38

McDonough wrote:

I might just have to start reconsidering my "no prickly plants" rule, you guys are working on me with all of this spiny eye candy! ;D

I still have plenty of Coryphantha(Escobaria) vivipara seed for you to try, Mark.  It has got to be the easiest germinating seed of all cactus (just guessing here, but it is really foolproof).  Provenance is of one of the easternmost colonies of the species, in eastern SD.

Submitted by cohan on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 17:07

There are people growing E reich 'perbellus' in at least zone 4, and some folks with winters nearly as cold as mine; again, I suspect my problem will be to provide a hot enough growing period for most Echinocereus.. the plan is to create as hot a bed as possible, and shelter from fall moisture to let plants go fully dormant soon enough...

Submitted by Weiser on Sat, 05/14/2011 - 08:42

The first subspecies of E. reichenbachii to bloom this season is Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp. albispinus. A lot of bud development on these this year and a few are pupping. Which is way cool! :)