Mammillaria Cacti (Pincushion Cacti) On Succulent City

Mammillaria genus featured image

The pincushion cactus is just one of the huge collection of cacti available in beautiful homes and apartments. And in the wild, for that matter. It is already a sure thing that you’re interested in knowing more about this particular cactus. We know you want it to be part of your houseplant collection, plus it’s one of the most popular cacti out there. Let’s see what are the Pincushion cacti on SucculentCity!

About The Pincushion Cactus

The pincushion cactus is a common name for the variety of cacti in the genus Mammillaria of the family Cactaceae. With over 200 known species, Mammillaria is the largest genus in the family.

Swedish scientist Carl Linnaeus named the first species in the 16th century. Cactus mammillaris was the name given, with the second part being an alteration of the Latin word for nipple (mammila). It had all to do with the shape of this particular plant, as you’ll see later.

Apart from pincushion cactus, other common names include:

  • Nipple cactus
  • Globe cactus
  • Fishhook cactus

Interesting names, right?

Well, here are some more of the different species from this genus: Woolly Nipple, Old Lady, Cushion Fox tail, and Owl’s eyes.

Mammillaria is a huge collection of species native to several countries. But a good deal of plants have their roots in Mexico. The remaining minority have been traced to have originated from

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

The pincushion cactus is small, perfect for these cute owl planters in the office and other varied shapes per the particular species. On average, it can grow to a height of up to 40 cm (15.75 in) and a diameter of up to 20 cm (7.87 in). Most plants are cylindrical, conical, round, and pyramidal in shape.

Some species of the pincushion cactus plant grow as loners, while others throw up as many as 100 little ones around them. 

This spiny hardy pincushion cactus plant bears funnel-shaped flowers in various colors – red, yellow, pink, white, and greenish. The flowers later develop into fruits of a host of shapes and colors. These fruits can resemble a berry, be elongated, or be club-shaped. They’re usually red, but other standard colors include white, green, magenta, and yellow.

Mammillaria Cacti On Succulent City

How to take care of Mammillaria

Nurturing the pincushion cactus plant is a breeze, especially if you start with houseplants. It is, by nature, adapted to fight through harsh conditions.

So that goes to say that too much pampering on your side could prove fatal. But that doesn’t mean you completely forget about your plant. Here are a few care regimens to follow for the pincushion cactus plant.

Watering Mammillaria Plants

The general rule for succulents applies – not too much water.

That means you water over prolonged periods. But how long should you wait before watering your pincushion cactus again?

It depends on the condition of the topsoil that’s in your favorite pot.

Allow enough time for this top part to completely dry out before you water your pincushion cactus again. And when you do water, do it well, here’s a full in depth article for watering succulents that can be applied to cacti as well.

If you already have a plethora of knowledge in watering cacti or succulents, just remember to let the water run off before you stop, drainage holes are very important to both succulents and cacti.

Tip: During winter, cease watering for the whole season.

If you are unsure of how much water to give your pincushion cactus or other succulents be sure to join Succulent City Plant Lounge on Facebook to have an exclusive member answer your questions for you. The community is rapidly growing, don’t miss out on the succulent fun!

Ideal Temperature for Mammillaria Plants

Cold temperatures are a deal-breaker for the pincushion cacti, it’s not like they have cute “plants are friends” sweaters laying around the office. So winter can be a rough season for them if you’ve set them up outdoors. Consider bringing them inside as the cold catches on.

For best growth, these plants need temperatures of between 10°C to 24°C (50°F to 75.2°F).

In short, warm is the way to go. To lear more about winter for succulents read: “How To Take Care of Succulents in The Winter”.

Soil Mix that Works well with Mammillaria Cacti

The soil mix is of ultimate importance for the pincushion cactus.

Because, even if you’re keeping your watering far apart, the soil should drain faster to provide the ideal growth for your pincushion cactus plant. Remember it doesn’t need that much water just like other cacti plants.

So your potting mix should be ideal for cactus growth. Either buy the commercial cactus and succulent mix or prepare your own at home by mixing regular potting soil, pumice and coarse sand in measured quantities.

Fertilizing Your Mammillaria Cactus

This isn’t much of a bother but it definitely goes a long way in improving the general development of your plant.

You can incorporate a slow-release fertilizer in the potting mix above and you’ll be set for life. Or, for even better results, use a specially-formulated feed for cacti every other two weeks during the growth period – any other season except winter.

Giving Enough Sunlight for Your Mammillaria Cactus

The pincushion cacti love light. Lots of it. Be sure to give your pincushion cactus plenty of light, for this particular plant, a normal grow light might not be sufficient enough in case you were wondering.

Therefore, it’s only sensible that you give your pincushion cactus the sunlight love it deserves as much as possible. They will appreciate you with all the colors they can get (recall them from above).

As if we can’t say it enough, basically, they thrive on full day sunlight all year round.

How to Propagate Pincushion Cactus

The pincushion cactus can be propagated through two simple ways; offsets and seeds.

For offsets, all you need to do is to pluck them from the mother plant. Careful, don’t hurt the plant or your hands use gardening gloves if you can. Now, allow the cut part to dry up for a few days and pot the pups in a well-draining soil mix.

Side note: Speaking of the PinCushion Cacti, we have succulent pins of all kinds, pinning it on your book bag or tote like us in the office is the way to go, they’re just super cute!

For seeds, the process should start off in spring. Use a cacti-mix-filled flat. Sow the seeds on top of the mix and lightly cover them with sand. Keep the top moist and store this set up in a warm place. Ideal temperature should not be less than 21°C (69.8°F). Remember to be watering the mix so that the seeds don’t dry out.

Pot the plants when they’ve grown to a considerable size.

For more tips and tricks read: “5 Tips For Propagating Succulents”.

Repotting the Pincushion Cactus

Repotting cacti is an essential step for most succulents, if not all. Especially for the pincushion cactus that bares offsets.

As a rule, repot when the roots start showing through the drainage holes in the post. Also, when pups have filled up the container.

Before embarking on this process, be sure to loosen up the soil using something like a blunt knife or your normal gardening tool. And the soil here should be dry. Once again, dry, that’s a very important detail to keep in mind when repotting.

Use a pot just large enough for the plant. Not something major. Again, beware of the spikes. You can use a rolled up once of cloth or thick gloves to stay in the safe. 

New to repotting plants? Check out our tailor-made guide: “How to Repot A Cactus Plant (Beginners Guide)” . 

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The Pincushion Cactus Pests and Diseases Problems

The most common types of pests affecting the Mammillaria plants are mealybugs and scale bugs.

Obviously, they are going to negatively interfere with your plant’s growth. So, it’s important to wipe them away as soon as you spot them. Control their spreading by separating affected plants from the rest of the pack. Spray the affected plants with an effective pesticide or a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water.

The pincushion cactus isn’t prone to disease. But watch out for any signs of rot – majorly due to overwatering habits.

Uses of the Pincushion Cactus

How many colors have you read so far in connection to the pincushion cactus? A lot! From the tubercles themselves to the flowers and fruits. They’re quite a number.

To have such colors in your home can be a nice feeling. For this reason, these cacti are grown for their colors. They are valuable collections for anyone who fancies themselves as gardeners. 

Where Can I Buy the Pincushion Cactus?

Just about everywhere with a succulents’ section. For online, you can check out Amazon, Mountain Crest Gardens, Leaf and Clay and Succulent Gardens.

For offline purchases be sure to browse around in your local nurseries. Here’s a full article on where you can buy succulents and cacti both online and offline.

Thinking of getting a pincushion cactus for yourself now? Comment below if you’re going to get one soon!

If you’d like, share it with us in the Succulent City Plant Lounge, I’m sure the exclusive members would love to hear how you take care of your pincushion cactus.

Loved learning about this pincushion cactus succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide. 


Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Cacti