The Parodia Cactus: A Staple of Cacti Collectors

The Parodia cactus is native to South America. Parodia magnifica is also known as the Silver Ball cactus or the Snowball cactus. It was named for the botanist who discovered it, Lorenzo Parodia. There are many wonderful varieties to choose from in the Parodia genus.

Parodia magnifica

Parodia Cactus Appearance

The Parodia cactus is ball-shaped with pronounced ridges. The ridges feature spines that begin white, then turn yellow or brown as the plant matures. The Parodia grows in a clustering pattern, reaching a width of 12 inches ( 30 cm). This fast-growing cactus gains approximately 4 inches ( 10 cm) of height per year. The cup-shaped blooms may be yellow, pink, orange, or red in color and appear in spring and summer.

Parodia Cactus Light Requirements

Provide bright, indirect sunlight all day for your ball cactus. Filtered sunlight through sheer curtains or a place in a room with bright, all-day light works well. Full sun in the morning and evening is acceptable provided the cactus is sheltered from hot, afternoon rays. Rotate the plant regularly to ensure all sides receive sun exposure and avoid uneven growth. 

Water Needs

Follow the soak and dry method to avoid overwatering your Parodia cactus. Water thoroughly when the soil feels dry and allow water to drain through the pots drainage holes. Wait 10 minutes for the water to finish draining, then dispose of the collected water. Disposing of water in the drip tray protects the root from root rot. 

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and Humidity
World of Succulents

Parodia varieties prefer desert-like conditions for optimal growth and health. Average household temperatures of around 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit ( 21 to 23.8 degrees Celsius) are acceptable but the cactus is not frost tolerant so avoid temperatures near freezing for any length of time. The ball cactus prefers dry conditions. Keep high humidity in check by using a dehumidifier and do not mist the plant. 

Soil and Fertilizer

The Parodia cactus thrives in a fast-draining soil to avoid soggy roots that lead to rot. Use a cactus or succulent soil mixture purchased from a garden center or create your own by mixing potting soil with equal parts perlite and coarse sand or pumice. A soil pH of between 6.1 to 6.5 helps with growth and blooming. Feed during the spring and summer with a cactus or succulent fertilizer once per month. The added nutrients help the plant produce more blooms for a longer period of time. 

Parodia Cactus Propagation

Propagate new Parodia by cuttings from young offsets of the mother plant. With a clean and sharp knife, cut an offset at its base and place the cutting on a paper towel. Allow the cutting to sit, undisturbed, for a few days to form a callus on the cut end. Once a callus has formed, plant the cutting, cut end down, into a small pot filled with a cactus or succulent soil mixture. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Set the cutting in indirect sunlight and allow roots to form. Once the cutting is established, repot into a larger pot if necessary and water as a mature plant. 

Wintering a Parodia Cactus

Young Parodia may not bloom for a few years, but wintering them is still recommended. Encourage blooming the following spring by allowing the plant to go dormant during the winter months. Water sparingly, just enough to keep the plant from dehydrating and becoming stressed or diseased. Place the cactus in temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) and limit sunlight exposure to no more than 8 hours per day. Withhold fertilizer during this time. In early spring, introduce regular waterings and more sunlight to trigger blooming. Resume fertilizer feedings as you would during the spring and summer. 

Parodia Cactus FAQ
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Parodia Cactus FAQ

When Should I Repot My Parodia Cactus?

Repot your Parodia in the spring if it has outgrown its current pot. Ensure the soil is dry when you transfer the plant. Remove the cactus and shake off soil around the roots. Repot in a container approximately 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous one. Fill with fresh cactus or succulent soil and withhold waterings for a few days to allow the plant to settle.  

What Pests Affect the Parodia Cactus?

Mealybugs are the most common pests to infest Parodia and may appear anytime of the year. Whiteflies and aphids may appear in the spring and summer. Remove small infestations with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, treat the plant with an insecticidal soap. 

How Do I Treat Mushy, Brown Areas of My Ball Cactus?

Soft, brown areas usually indicate disease or rot. Inspect the plant for insects and treat if an infestation is present. If overwatering is suspected, cut back on waterings and inspect the roots for rot. Remove the affected areas of the stems by cutting them out with a sterile and sharp knife. 

Can I Grow My Parodia Cactus Outdoors?

Yes, a Parodia cactus will grow in USDA zones 9 to 12. If nighttime temperatures drop to below freezing, bring the cactus inside as it is not frost tolerant. 

How Tall Will A Parodia Cactus Grow?

Varieties of Parodia grow to a height of between 3 to 12 inches tall ( 7.6 to 30 cm) tall. 

Cindy McKie
About Cindy McKie
Cindy McKie provides helpful, easy-to-follow care guides for plant lovers of all experience levels. She has written for several online gardening publications and has self-published her own guide to growing herbs under the pen name Sophia Darby. When not writing about plants, she can be found in her gardens or reading a good book.

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