The Balloon Cactus ‘Parodia Magnifica’

The Rounded Ball Cactus Parodia Magnifica

For most people, cacti and succulents can be used interchangeably. Well, until recently when the clear distinction has been understood. If you didn’t know yet, all cacti are succulents but not the other way round. Succulents come in a wide species variety and cacti are just one of them.

And even for the cacti, there are so many plant options, round ball cactus being among them.

Maybe you’ve encountered it or not. Even if you have, just how much do you know about it? Buckle up because you’re about to learn a ton.

The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica
rounded ball cactus is a succulent @succulent.cabin

What is the Rounded Ball Cactus

Parodia Magnifica starts off growth as a spherical spiny structure but settles on a near columnar shape as it ages. The entire stem is ribbed and the plant can grow to a height up to 0.85 m. The diameter can go all the way to 0.45 m.

The whole stem is covered by spines that are yellow in color while itself being either green or having a tinge of blue-green. And this has greatly influenced the common names the Parodia Magnifica has (remember them from above?). In summer, it wears a yellow crown in the form of a flower. Check out what other succulents benefit from this yellow crown flower in “Succulents With Yellow Flowers“.

In general, rounded ball cacti are grown mainly for their aesthetic appeal – in the gardens (in places where they can survive outdoors) or in the house.

Scientific Classification

In the botany world, the rounded ball cactus comes from the Cactaceae family under the genus Parodia and the species Magnifica. This gives it the scientific name Parodia Magnifica.

The name is recent though. In the years gone by, the rounded ball cactus was scientifically referred to by two names; Notocactus magnificus and Eriocactus magnificus. If you bump into them anywhere, just know that they refer to this same plant.

Rounded Ball cactus isn’t the only common name there is. Parodia Magnifica is also known as balloon cactus, green ball cactus, and blue ball cactus. You’ll find out why in the upcoming part of this post.

This species is native to South American grasslands – in Brazil to be precise. Somehow, you can find it in homes across the world sitting around in pots (hello, succulent lovers).

The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica
rounded ball cactus surrounded by rocks @thesucculentstore

Bad and Good News

The bad first – Parodia Magnifica is labeled “Endangered” on IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) Red List. What does this mean? 

Despite this cactus species being available across the world (at least), the population isn’t something to write home about. The numbers are just too small which is kind of sad because there is a risk of losing the plant forever. Quite unfortunate.

To the good news

Despite its dwindling numbers, Parodia Magnifica was gifted the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) by the British Body Royal Horticultural Society. That means the plant satisfied a number of requirements laid down by RHS. Ignoring the conditions that might only be specific to Britain, the following are great to anyone from all over the world:

  • Easy to care for
  • Not prone to pest and disease attack
  • Excellent for garden decoration

This is definitely huge as more people will be interested in growing it. And who knows, maybe that will push up its population considerably.

Have a succulent garden at home? Check out “The Best Succulents For Your Fairy Garden” to see if you could transform your garden into something magical.

How to Take Care of Rounded Ball Cactus

You know the old adage for succulents?

They thrive on neglect.

And Parodia Magnifica is no different. It can battle out some super hard conditions to emerge healthy. What can you do as the plant owner, though? And to what limit?

The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica
Taking care of the Parodia Magnifica @kaktoscactusve

Watering the Parodia Magnifica

As a general rule, be as light-handed with watering as possible. Plenty of water is not something succulents have a preference for, if you’ve read our previous succulent articles, I’m sure you’re aware.

Just a little of it and they’ll be all good.

That means you have to make sure your watering sessions are adequately spread out to allow the soil mix to dry. Check the top part of the mix. Any whim of moisture is a sign that you should wait some more. Take a look at “How Often To Water Cactus” for more tips on watering your rounded ball cactus.

Sun Exposure for the Rounded Ball Cactus

The rounded ball cactus prefers plenty of sunlight. So, ensure it gets as much of it as possible for dapper development. Not too much of it, though.

Ideally, half a day of sunlight will do just fine – in the morning. If it’s indoor, placing your plant near a window is even much better. Just be sure to rotate the pot so as the plant doesn’t stretch out. We don’t need any etiolation to occur for the Parodia Magnifica, otherwise, it’ll look extremely odd.

What’s the Ideal Temperature Conditions for the Parodia Magnifica?

Rounded ball cacti are ideal for Zone 9 to Zone 12 growth.

Tip: If you don’t know what zone your particular plant is find out here.

That means some super-low temperatures may turn out to be harmful. That is anything below 10°C. Basically, they have to stay inside, where it is warmer, during winter. For more helpful info to take care of your succulents during the cold season, check out “How to Care for Succulents in the Winter

The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica
Close up Rounded ball cactus @b_o_b_c_a_c_t_u_s

Take a break from learning about the Rounded Ball Cactus and check out this offer we have for you. Did you know that this article is sponsored by Amazon Prime! Amazon is offering our Succulent City community an exclusive offer of a FREE 30-day trial of their famous Amazon Prime Membership. Click here to get your free trial started and enjoy that free 2-day shipping!

Is Potting Mix for the Rounded Ball Cactus the Same as with other Cacti?

Good drainage is one thing you should give priority when it comes to the potting mix you choose.

You have two options here; either grab a commercial cactus and succulents mix or prepare your own mix at home.

To prepare one, all you need is a regular soil mix, pumice, and coarse sand. Throw them together in measured quantities and you’ll have the perfect medium for your rounded ball cactus to grow.

Can I use Fertilizer on the Parodia Magnifica?

Fertilizer isn’t much of a need for rounded ball cacti, especially if the potting mix is fresh.

Otherwise, apply a low nitrogen liquid houseplant fertilizer once every 6-8 weeks during spring and summer. Completely withdraw from fertilizing in winter.

Winter = dormancy. Fertilizing will do more harm than good.

How to Propagate Rounded Ball Cactus

Propagation of rounded ball cactus is best done by offsets.

When the offsets form, carefully pluck them from the mother plant and allow time for the cut part to callous or dry. Takes a few days.

Now prepare the ideal potting mix (remember it from above?) and place the calloused part in it. Keep the little buddies warm until they form their own roots. Wait a bit until they’re established and repot them.

Alternatively, you can grow new rounded ball cactus plants from seeds – only that it will take longer for your plant to grow to a considerable size. Plant the seeds as you would for any plant and wait for them to sprout. Keep the sprouts moist until they are of a considerable size for potting.

Propagation should be done during spring and summer, if you’re actually successful in the winter, you’re a cacti wizard for sure. Check out “How to Propagate Your Succulents Successfully” for a full guide to propagating your succulents.

Here are some inexpensive propagation tools that you can use to really help you out when propagating offsets of your prickly baby.

The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica
Frosty Succulent @toanakarat

Repotting your Rounded Ball Cactus

Repotting is done as soon as the plant overgrows its initial pot. You don’t want the roots to choke in limited pot walls.

Just remember – repotting during winter is a no-no. Always give the plant enough time to settle in before the cold weather comes knocking.

Is the Rounded Ball Cactus Susceptible to Pests & Other Problems?

Rounded Ball cactus has a solid resistance to diseases. So, no worries to that front. For pests, the most common are mealybugs and aphids.

Mealybugs appear like little bags of cotton and can attack the plant any season of the year. Aphids are fond of infesting the plant during summer/spring when it is flowering. You can eliminate them by spraying your plant with a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water. A suitable pesticide will also do the job just fine.

Besides that, the rounded ball is definitely a strong contender to fight off anything harmful. Talk about a ball of strength!

Where can I Buy the Rounded Ball Cactus?

A lot of options here. With the popularity of succulents, you’re sure to find rounded ball cactus in numerous online stores stocking succulent plants. Don’t forget your local nurseries.

Check out our article on where to buy succulents and you might be able to find it there.

The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica
Macro of Cactus @mrs.chucactus

Interested in getting a Parodia Magnifica cactus for yourself now? The care is not all that hard and the size of these cacti isn’t too space taking either.

Thank you for reading! Let us know if you get a rounded ball cactus for yourself, we’d love to see yours in action! Be sure to also check out “9 Types of Cacti” to see other types of cacti options for your garden.

Enjoyed learning about “The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica”? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents“. With this ebook you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents. 

Happy Planting!

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