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Genus Mammillaria

The cactus and the succulents are a type of ornamental plants that every day continue to gain space in terms of preference for gardening lovers and want to have the most beautiful garden plants, that is why if you want to have a very beautiful Cactus In your garden you can choose to plant and grow a mammillaria since they are very beautiful small cactus that is very beautiful because of the flowering they give.

Of these plants there is a great variety but the most common is the small mammillaria, it is characterized by its small size and it is a very good plant when it is planted in pots and its flowering is considered the most beautiful for the cactus.

Here we will show you some of them, so you can see the beauty of this cactus genus, among the hundreds that exist.

Mammillaria blossfeldiana in bloom
Mammillaria blossfeldiana in bloom

These cacti, the succulents, have large reserves of sap and have a particular metabolism, called CAM or Crassulacean acid metabolism.

Actually, this metabolism, unlike all other plants, happens during the night, absorbs carbon dioxide and restores oxygen, during a period in which temperatures are less high, to avoid drying out the plants.

From the Mammillaria, there are around 200 to 300 species depending on different classifications.

Most of them are native to Mexico, with some from the southwestern United States, some from South America and others from the Caribbean islands.

Mammillaria bocasana v. rosalviflora with flower

The name Mammillaria comes from the Latin word mamma, which refers to the tubers that cover the body of the plant and which, for several species, contains a milky sap or latex.

The genus Mammillaria was created in 1812 by Adrian Haworth, but the first known cactus in the Mammillaria family was described in 1753 by Linnaeus, with the name of Mammillaria Cactus.

Types of Mammillarias

Description of Mammillaria

These cactus plants are globose or slightly depressed or cylindrical. They are short or with groups of short cylindrical bodies.

Mammillaria compressa
Mammillaria compressa

The Mammillarias are small or medium plants, solitary or grouped, becoming many of them of spectacular beauty.

The sap or latex, is a milky substance, something watery in the body and in the tubers.

Its size usually ranges between 2 to 25 cm in diameter, and can even reach half a meter in height.

Mammillaria cactus, is characterized by having a structure of thorns, which is born at the base of the plant and cover a large part of its surface.

According to the species of Mammillaria, its thorns may take different forms, they may be short, curved and white spines, up to long straight and yellowish thorns.

Mammillaria elongata
Mammillaria elongata

The spines.

The spines of the Mammillaria, originate in the upper part of the tubers (areola).

They are separated into two types, the radial spines and the central spines, sometimes they are even. Generally, the central spines are different.

The thorns may be long or short, numerous or absent, hooked or straight, hair-shaped, bristle-shaped and sometimes wool-shaped, or shaggy.

The flowers, the fruits and the seeds.

The flowers, in general, open during the day and are born from an areola ,in the axils of the tubers. For this to happen, they will need the exact doses of light, water and fertilizer.

Mammillaria crucigera
Mammillaria crucigera


If you assure Mammillaria the right amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer you will have beautiful blooms.

The plant usually begins to bloom from the beginning of summer and continues throughout the summer.

The flowering is particular because the flowers are arranged so that they form a crown on the top of the plant.

The fruits, of course, come in the same place after the flowers. The flowers are small or medium and are distributed in circles in the growth of the previous year.

The shape and color vary, usually red, yellow, white, pink, pink, with medium veins of another color.

The fruits are often red and rarely green or white.

Usually, elongated stick shape, somewhat rounded, but sometimes can also be globose.

Seeds are usually brown or black, depending on the species. The size varies depending on the species.

Characteristics of the Mammillaria Genus.

The Mammillaria cactus, is characterized by enduring extreme temperatures, both cold and heat and hardly need water to survive.

Its habitat is the desert climate and very arid, typical of many cacti. However, it is necessary to remain in ventilated places, especially if we have it indoors, during the summer.

This cactus needs a lot of light, all year round. The optimal temperature for the crop will be between 15 and 25 ºC and in winter between 10 / 13ºC, but without exposing the plant to less than 10ºC.

Reproduction of the Mammillaria.


The most typical way to reproduce the Mammillaria is through the replanting of the basal shoots that leave the mother plant.

The procedure to follow will be to carefully cut the basal shoots and let them dry for a week or so to give you time to develop the roots of the new plant, unless you have them already.

A week later, we can do the transplant of the mammillaria.

If you are going to plant it outdoors, look for a very bright and airy area, with natural direct light.

If you are going to transplant it in an indoor pot, the flowerpot should be well sized, so that the roots develop properly, since they spread out a lot and fill the pot.

Use a suitable substrate, ideally mix a third of coarse sand, with two thirds of substrate, to get better drainage.

Then, plant the cactus and water abundantly until the soil is well moist.



The multiplication by seeds is done in March-April distributing the seeds as uniformly as possible on a substrate formed by 2 parts of substrate for seeds and one of vermiculite.

If you have many Mammillaria at home, you can try making crosses between plants with different flowers and try to get hybrids. Take a brush and when the flowers are fully open, gently rub the brush in the center of the flower and then pass it to the flower of another plant. If you are lucky enough to get some plants born of seeds obtained by cross-pollination, they could have a different aspect from the original plants.

If you want to collect the seeds in any case, remove them from the plant with a pair of pliers when they are ripe, that is to say when their color becomes darker. Let the fruits dry or, to make the operation faster, press them on a sheet of blotting paper so that the seeds overflow.

You can use not very tall pots or multiplication trays leaving a space of at least 2 cm between the edge of the pot and the ground. Then immerse the pot in water until the soil is well wet. Then let the excess water drain and arrange the seeds on the surface of the substrate evenly and eventually use a piece of wood to bury them evenly or pour a bit of substrate on top.




Step 1 planting MAMMILLARIA by seedStep 3 planting MAMMILLARIA by seedStep 3 planting MAMMILLARIA by seed





The tray should be covered with a transparent plastic sheet or a glass slab that will ensure a good temperature and avoid too rap

id drying of the substrate. The plastic sheet must be removed every day to control the degree of humidity of the land and remove the condensation water that forms on the plastic or glass.

The tray or pot containing the seeds should be kept in the shade, at a temperature around 21 ° C and constantly humid (use a sprayer to completely wet the substrate) until the time of germination

When the seeds have germinated (germination usually occurs after 1-2 months and sometimes more), the plastic or glass is removed. Since the seeds do not germinate all together but gradually, it will be necessary to guarantee the new plants a little light, so they will place the tray or the pot so that it receives a little light, but not excessive, so that also respect the seeds that have not yet germinated.

In any case, remove the plastic or the glass sheet.

Once the seedlings are large enough to be handled they are transplanted into the final pot. Keep in mind at this stage that plants use several months and even a year before they have the ideal dimensions to be transplanted. Do not get discouraged. Keep her calmly in her tray and she takes you as her adult plants but you do not transplant her first we have the right dimensions.


How to transplant mammillaria


Mammillaria, like all plants, needs to be transplanted periodically. Very often we do not transplant because, discouraged by thorns, we always postpone this “difficult moment”, with serious damage to our plant.

In general, all the Cactaceae have a root system that expands a lot, especially on the surface, due to the fact that the roots, in their natural environment, go in search of the surrounding soil the little humidity and nutrition that they can find. Let’s think that in nature a desert cactus of about 15 cm can have roots that expand by one square meter!

A signal from the plant to tell us that the flowerpot that hosts them is too small, even though the irrigation, fertilizers and exposure are perfect, is a decrease in the speed of growth. If you remove the plant from the pot you will see that the roots are a whole with the ground and some even sprout from the drainage hole. Therefore, it is a good rule every year, in the spring, to check if the roots are tight and too crowded.

The transplant is also an optimal moment to control the state of the roots: if you notice blackened or grayish roots (the roots have to be white-cream) they must be eliminated. Then take washed and sterilized scissors, preferably flame, and cut. Then sprinkle broad-spectrum fungicidal powder on cutting wounds and then transplant. In this case, wait at least a week before watering to allow wounds to heal.

For the transplant use a specific compost for cacti to which we will add coarse sand or perlite in the proportion of 2: 1 (2 parts of compost for 1 part of sand or perlite).

Be careful to place pieces of baked clay in the drainage hole so that soil or roots do not obstruct the drainage hole because the flooding is lethal to this plant.

Personally I always advise to use clay and not plastic because it allows the earth to sweat and if the drainage hole has been arranged in a way that guarantees a good spillway, I would say it is perfect. In addition, the pots have to be wider than deep because the root system tends to develop in width rather than depth.

To make a good transplant of these “thorny plants” proceed as follows: water the substrate well and let the water drain for a few hours: this operation makes it easier to extract the plant from the pot. Then put on a nice pair of gloves or take sheets of newspaper that you will use as a glove.


Turn the flowerpot gently hammering on the bottom and pull the plant. If the plant does resistance, push with a pencil through the drain hole.

Shortly before, you will have prepared the new, larger pot, in which you will have placed pieces of terracotta at the bottom of the drainage holes and a bit of the substrate indicated above, mixed and ready to be used. Then add new substrate all around, taking great care that the compost and the height at which the plant is located, is the same as the previous one. Do not bury her anymore, or less.

The first irrigation after the transplant, do it by immersion of the pot. Remember that if you have trimmed the roots you need to wait at least a week before watering to give time for the wounds to heal.

How to take care of our Mammillaria.


The main thing, as in almost all cacti, is not to water in excess and only do it when the substrate is well dried.

Excess water could cause root rot. It must have a good drainage in a pot and avoid puddles.

carmenae-cristata cactus
Mammillaria carmenae cristata

Irrigation in winter, only once every three weeks, while in summer, it is normal to have to do it at least once a week.


Add fertilizer from spring and summer every 20/25 days and with diluted liquid fertilizer in the irrigation water. In autumn and winter do not put any.

The recommended fertilizers will be those that carry nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in equal parts and also minerals such as magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, boron, molybdenum and copper, basically.

This can be found, in prepared commercial fertilizers, for that purpose.

Plagues and diseases.

Like all cacti, they are not plants particularly subject to diseases. In your case, it may be more correct to talk about physiopathies, that is, diseases due not to pathogens but to poor culture techniques.

The plant does not flower and assumes strange forms

Commonly the plant lengthens and assumes a clear green coloration. This is the classic symptom of low light.
Remedy: place the plant in a more lighted position.

The green parts of the plant discolor and appear as emptied

This symptom is usually due to very little risk. If we spend many months without watering the plant, especially in summer, the plant exhausts all the water contained in the tissues and therefore appears as “emptied.”
Remedy: not always if this stage is reached it is possible to recover the plant, in any case it is worth making an attempt replenishing adequate risks.

The green parts appear brownish

If the plant begins to present this symptom, as if the plant had burned and small cracks are noticed, it means that the temperatures are too low.
Remedy: place the plant in a more ideal place.

The plant deteriorates rapidly for no apparent reason

If this symptom is observed, the cause could be the cochineal: cottony cochineal or brown cochineal (see photos below). These are very harmful insects that feed on the sap of the plant causing its deterioration and, in the most severe cases, death. They are often not easy to locate because they nest among the roots. So, if it is observed that the plant deteriorates, it is best to remove it from the pot and control the roots that if they are not rotten, surely have a cochineal infestation in progress.

cochinilla on cactus

Remedy: remove the plant from the pot and remove all the soil. Gently wash the roots under a stream of warm water eliminating every trace of soil or anything else. Energetically prune the infected roots and then let them dry. Then transplant with new soil after having cleaned and washed the pot very well.

The plant wrinkles and becomes soft

This symptom in cacti is an index of excessive watering.

Remedy: unfortunately when it comes to this stage it is not always possible to recover the plant. In any case, remove the plant with all the ground bread from the pot and leave it in the air so that the soil dries quickly. Control the roots and eventually eliminate the wilted by cutting them at least 1 cm over the rotten area with sharp and disinfected scissors (preferably flame), spray the surface of the cut roots with a wide-spectrum fungicide powder and then transplant. Wait at least two weeks before watering again and above all take more caution in the amount of water you supply.

Echinocactus grusonii – Golden barrel cactus