Mammillaria Perbella (The Owl Eye Cactus)

Mammillaria Perbella image

Mammillaria perbella, also known as the Owl Eye Cactus, is a delightful species belonging to the Mammillaria genus, one of the largest in the cactus family. This species, native to Mexico, is well-regarded for its compact size, intriguing structure, lovely flowers, and relative ease of care, making it an ideal choice for novice and experienced cactus enthusiasts.

Physical Characteristics

The Owl Eye Cactus is a small, globular cactus that typically grows up to 10 cm in diameter. This compact plant is a perfect fit for indoor gardening or terrarium environments. The plant’s surface is divided into cone-shaped tubercles, giving it an appealingly textured appearance. Each tubercle is tipped with a woolly areole from which sprouts several radial spines, typically white or pale yellow, creating a look reminiscent of an owl’s eye, hence the common name.

One of the most distinctive characteristics of M. perbella is how it forms clusters. The cactus can develop numerous offsets (or pups) around the base with age, eventually forming a dense, visually striking cluster.

Blooming Habits

Mammillaria perbella blooms in spring and summer, producing charming, funnel-shaped flowers. These flowers are small, typically around 1.5 cm in diameter, and exhibit a brilliant pink or sometimes carmine-red color. They form a crown around the top of the cactus, adding a lovely dash of color to the plant’s overall appearance.

The blooms are followed by the development of small, club-shaped fruits that are bright red and stand in contrast to the plant’s green body and white spines. The fruits add another layer of visual interest to this appealing cactus species.

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Cultivation and Care

Cultivating the Owl Eye Cactus is relatively straightforward, making it an excellent choice for beginners. Firstly, it prefers a well-draining cactus soil mix to prevent waterlogging and root rot. Bright, indirect light is optimal for this cactus, as intense direct sunlight can cause scorching.

While it can tolerate some neglect, M. perbella needs regular watering during the growing season. During winter, the watering should be reduced significantly as the plant enters a period of dormancy. However, care must be taken not to overwater, and it’s generally best to let the soil dry out thoroughly between waterings.

The Owl Eye Cactus prefers warm temperatures but can handle occasional cooler temperatures if not exposed to frost, which can cause permanent damage.


Propagation of M. perbella is typically achieved by separating the offsets from the parent plant. This should ideally be done in the warmer months. Once removed, let the offset dry for a few days. Then, you will see a callous form over the cut area, which helps prevent infection. The offset can then be planted in a well-draining soil mix (see the cactus propagation article, as offset propagation is one of the main methods).

DO YOU KNOW? Caring (propagating, pruning/trimming, beheading, watering, …) is a set of skills that is widely applicable to succulents. Read the in-depth guide here >>

Richard Miller – Succulent City


With its compact size, beautiful flowers, and unique form, Mammillaria Perbella is a perfect addition to any cacti and succulent collection. Whether you’re just starting your plant-growing journey or looking to add to an established collection, this endearing cactus offers beauty and ease of care, making it a popular choice for gardening enthusiasts. Looking for more Mammillaria plants in Succulent City? Check out the Mammillaria genus page or 2 suggestions below:

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