Care Guide For Mammillaria— The Pincushion Cactus

The pincushion cactus is only one of many cacti that may be seen in gorgeous homes and flats. Here's how you take care of it.

Sharing is caring!

You’ve already expressed an interest in learning more about this particular cactus. We know you want it in your houseplant collection, and it’s one of the most popular cacti available.

If you already have a pincushion cactus plant in your home, you want to make sure it not only survives but grows in order to improve the environment. In other words, we always appreciate it when someone complements our indoor plants, and I’m sure you do as well!

And that is exactly what you will take away from this post. Everything you need to know about the pincushion cactus plant, no holds barred.


The Pincushion Cactus

Scientific classification

The pincushion cactus is a popular name for a group of cacti in the genus Mammillaria of the Cactaceae family. Mammillaria is the largest genus in the family, with over 200 species identified.

Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus named the first species in the 16th century. The name was Cactus mammillaris, with the second component being a modification of the Latin word for nipple (mammila). As you’ll see later, it had everything to do with the shape of this particular plant.

Other common names for pincushion cactus include:

  • Nipple cactus
  • Globe cactus
  • Fishhook cactus

Aren’t these names intriguing?

Here are a few more species in this genus: Woolly Nipple, Old Lady, Cushion Fox tail, and Owl’s eyes. What a strange assortment of cacti names!

Related: The Most Common Types of Succulents


Mammillaria is native to a number of nations due to its large number of species. However, many plants have their origins in Mexico. The origins of the remaining minority have been determined.

  • Venezuela
  • The Caribbean
  • The United States
  • Honduras
  • Colombia
  • Guatemala


The pincushion cactus has a compact size that is ideal for these adorable owl planters we have in the workplace, as well as different shapes that vary depending on the species. It can reach a height of up to 40 cm (15.75 in) and a diameter of up to 20 cm on average (7.87 in). The majority of plants are cylindrical, conical, spherical, or pyramidal in shape. Some species of pincushion cactus plant thrive alone, while others produce up to 100 offspring around them.

This resilient spiny pincushion cactus plant produces funnel-shaped flowers in a variety of colors, including red, yellow, pink, white, and greenish. The blossoms eventually mature into a variety of forms and hues of fruits. These fruits might resemble berries, be elongated, or club-shaped. They are commonly red, but they can also be white, green, magenta, or yellow.

How to take care of Mammillaria

The pincushion cactus plant is simple to care for, especially if you’re new to houseplants. It is designed by nature to withstand extreme environments. That is to say, a little too much pampering on your part could prove lethal. But that doesn’t imply you should completely disregard your plant. Here are some care instructions for the pincushion cactus plant.

Watering Mammillaria Plants

The general rule for succulents is to not overwater them.

That is, you water for long periods of time. But how long should you go without watering your pincushion cactus?

It all depends on the state of the topsoil in your preferred pot.

If you already know how to water cacti and succulents, just remember to let the water run off before stopping; drainage holes are essential for both succulents and cacti.

Tip: During the winter, stop watering for the entire season.


Ideal Temperature for Mammillaria Plants

Cold temps are a no-go for the pincushion cacti; they don’t have nice “plants are friends” sweaters laying about the office. So, if you’ve placed them up outside, winter might be a difficult season for them. As the winter sets in, consider taking them indoors.

These plants require temperatures ranging from 10°C to 24°C (50°F to 75.2°F) for optimal growth.

Soil Mix that Works well with Mammillaria Cacti

The soil mixture is crucial for the pincushion cactus.

Because, even if you space your waterings widely, the soil should drain faster to allow for optimal growth of your pincushion cactus plant. Remember that it, like other cacti plants, does not require a lot of water.

As a result, your potting soil should be optimal for cactus development. Buy a commercial cactus and succulent mix or make your own at home by combining measured amounts of ordinary potting soil, pumice, and coarse sand.

Related: Are Succulents and Cacti the Same?

Fertilizing Your Mammillaria Cactus

This isn’t much of a bother, but it will go a great way toward increasing the overall development of your plant.

You can add a slow-release fertilizer to the potting mix described above and you’ll be set for life. Use a specially formulated cactus feed every other two weeks during the growth period – any other season save winter – for even greater results.


Giving Enough Sunlight for Your Mammillaria Cactus

Pincushion cacti adore light. There’s a lot of it. Give your pincushion cactus lots of light; in case you were wondering, a standard grow light might not be adequate for this plant.

As a result, it’s only natural that you offer your pincushion cactus as much sunlight as possible. With all the colors they can acquire, they will appreciate you (recall them from above).

As if we don’t tell it enough, they thrive on full-day sunlight all year.

How to Propagate Pincushion Cactus

Offsets and seeds are two simple ways to spread the pincushion cactus.

To obtain offsets, simply pick them from the mother plant. Use gardening gloves if possible to avoid damaging the plant or your hands. Allow the cut part to dry for a few days before planting the pups in a well-draining soil mix.

The process for seeds should begin in the spring. Fill a flat with cacti mix. Place the seeds on top of the mixture and lightly cover with sand. Keep the top moist and place this set in a warm location. The ideal temperature is not less than 21°C (69.8°F). Remember to moisten the mixture to keep the seeds from drying out.

When the plants have reached a reasonable size, pot them.

Related: Can you Drink Water From a Cactus?

Repotting the Pincushion Cactus

Repotting cactus is a necessary step for most, if not all, succulents. Especially for the offset-bearing pincushion cactus.

Repot when the roots begin to show through the drainage holes in the post. Also, when the puppies have depleted the container.

Before beginning this technique, make sure to soften the dirt with a blunt knife or your regular gardening instrument. And the dirt should be dry here. Once again, dry is a critical factor to remember while repotting.

Use a pot that is just big enough for the plant. It’s nothing big. Be cautious of the spikes once more. To stay in the safe, use a rolled-up piece of cloth or thick gloves.


The Pincushion Cactus Pests and Diseases Problems

Mealybugs and scale bugs are the most prevalent pests that attack Mammillaria plants.

They will obviously have a detrimental impact on the growth of your plant. As a result, it’s critical to wipe them away as soon as you notice them. Separate damaged plants from the rest of the pack to prevent their spread. Spray an efficient insecticide or a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water on the damaged plants.

The pincushion cactus is not susceptible to illness. However, keep an eye out for any symptoms of rot, which is usually caused by overwatering.

Uses of the Pincushion Cactus

How many colors have you read about in relation to the pincushion cactus so far? A lot! From the tubercles to the blooms and fruits, They’re quite numerous.

Having such hues in your home might give you a pleasant mood. As a result, these cacti are bred for their vibrant hues. They are priceless treasures for anyone who considers themselves to be gardeners.

Share the Post:

Related Posts