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Mammillaria bocasana – Powder Puff Cactus

Mammillaria bocasana

The cactus Mammillaria bocasana also known as Powder Puff Cactus is one of the best known cactus and cultivated for its ease of cultivation and its beautiful appearance.

Mammillaria bocasana is undoubtedly one of the best known cacti in the world for its cultivation facilities and beautiful appearance . It is a species native to central arid zones of Mexico where it grows wild on rocky substrates poor in organic matter. It is highly recommendedfor the start of collections of cactusesbecause their needs are so basic that it is unlikely to die.

Pink flower of Mammillaria bocasanaPink flower of Mammillaria bocasana

This species is characterized by forming small colonies of globose (+/- 4.5 cm in diameter) or slightly columnar stems that can cover areas of +/- 30 cm in diameter. The stems present a clear green coloration and develop numerous conical tubers of +/- 1.5 cm long (known as mammals ) in which spines originate . The areolas of the species are clearly divided in two (characteristic observable in all the species of the genus Mammillaria ), that is to say, the armpits are the ones in charge in the formation of the flowers and new buds (shoots) and at the apex of the tubers the thorns are formed .

They develop from one to two central spines of +/- 3 cm long, with a yellow-brown coloration and with the apex uncinate (hooked form); also they develop tens of radial spines than 5 cm long, soft touch, coloring and white hairs shaped.

The flowers appear in the armpits forming floral crowns in the apical regions of the stem. These measure approximately 1 cm in diameter and 1 cm in length; the floral corolla can vary in color, with yellow being the most common (there are also varieties with pink flowers like the one presented in this post ).

Flower and hooked spines of Mammillaria bocasana

Flower and hooked spines of Mammillaria bocasana


The buds of the flower, are pink and take out the flower in spring and summer.

The flower gives its fruit, which is cylindrical, pinkish to reddish about 2.5 cm long and in summer. It generates some seeds of reddish color.


A good substrate or soil is one with little organic matter (peat or humus) and in the case of commercial substrates, the standard for cactus.

Up to 15% coarse sand can be added to the commercial substrate . It should always be provided, the perfect drainage of irrigation water.

Yellowish flower of Mammillaria bocasanaYellowish flower of Mammillaria bocasana


The Mammillaria bocasana, must be watered every fortnight, is very resistant to drought . Caution in irrigation.

As always, avoid puddles. Avoid wetting the body or stem of the cactus and do not wet the leaves in bloom, or they will wither quickly.

In the winter season, water very little in quantity and once a month, depending on the humidity. Better with good ventilation.

A problem that can occur if we water more than the account in winter, is that it tends to curl up and get out of control in its logical growth in spring / summer, having too much water and shade.


During the growing season of the plant, enrich the soil with fertilizer rich in potassium and phosphorous, but poor in nitrogen, because this chemical element does not help the development of succulent plants, making them too soft and full of water .


This cactus resists frost well, if it stays dry. It holds up well to -5ºC. Better to have good average temperature throughout the year, as it will facilitate growth.

As for the exposure, he likes the bright outside sun, filtered or semi-shaded sunlight and some direct sunlight. If it is always left in direct sunlight, it may cause sunburn.

A good exposure like the above, favors the flowering, the production of wool and thick thorns.


It should be transplanted every two or three years  if you have it in a pot. The pot must have a good drainage. It is a very good plant for growing in a pot.

Plagues and diseases.

The Mammillaria bocasana, can be attractive to a wide variety of insects.

But, plants in good condition should be almost free of pests . They should be grown in a mixture of mineral substrates, with good exposure and ventilation, better than better.

However, there are several pests to consider;

Red spider: plants are sensitive to the red spider

Cottony cochineal : usually hidden in the woolly formations of the plant, but the worst are those that develop under the earth, in the radical system, since they are not visible until its effects make it patent.

Rot of the roots: this is a problem or disease controllable by the irrigation and the good drainage of the pot.

Mammillaria bocasana in a plant pot
Mammillaria bocasana

Propagation or multiplication.

The best will be direct sowing after the last winter .

Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 21-27 ° C in spring, remove the seedling cover gradually as the plants develop and keep them ventilated.

Avoid direct sun to new shoots. Seedlings should not be moved until they are well rooted, after which they can be planted separately in small pots.


For the cuttings, wait until the buds or basal shoots, which appear at the base, are 1/3 the size of the parent and then  separate and plant.

The cuttings or shoots, will take root in a minimum temperature of 20 ° C.

Cuttings of healthy shoots or shoot can be collected in the spring and summer. Cut the stem with a sharp and sterile knife, leave the cut in a warm and dry place for a week or more depending on the thickness of the cut, until a callus forms on the wound.

Once the callus is formed, the cut can be inserted into a container filled with a mixture of cactus substrate, firm and topped with a surface layer of coarse-grained sand.

They should be placed in the coarse sand only. This prevents the end of the cut from getting too wet and allows the roots to penetrate the rich compost below.

The cuttings must take root in 2 to 6 weeks.

Mammillaria carmenae with white flowers

Mammillaria carmenae – Carmen pincushion cactus

Mammillaria bocasana splendens cristata.

Mammillaria bocasana splendens cristata.