Say “Hola” To The Powder Puff Cactus

The Powder Puff cactus is native to Mexico. Mammillaria bocasana is considered easy to grow with a classic cactus appearance. The plant is fast growing and common to find in many garden centers.

Powder Puff Cactus

Powder Puff Cactus Appearance

The Powder Puff cactus has a round shape and produces offsets stemming from the base of the mother plant. The cacti’s blue-green stalks are covered with white, silky hairs that are deceptively sharp. This Mammillaria cactus grows to a height of 5 inches ( 12 cm) and each stem reaches 4 inches ( 10 cm) wide. The blooms create a halo effect by growing in a circular pattern around the circumference of the stem’s top. Flowers can be white or red and appear in summer.

Powder Puff Cactus Light Requirements

The Powder Puff cactus prefers bright sunlight for at least eight hours per day. A place in a south or west-facing windowsill works well. If direct sunlight is not available, place the cactus in a room that receives bright sunlight all day. Plants that are moved outside during the summer will tolerate full sun to partial shade.

Water Needs

Water is stored in tubercles of Mammillaria bocasana, making the cactus drought tolerant. Follow the soak and dry watering method, watering only when the soil is completely dry. Soak the soil until excess runs out the pot’s drainage holes. Discard any water collected in the drip tray after 10 to 15 minutes. Continue this watering schedule during the spring and summer months. 

Temperature and Humidity

Mammillaria bocasana
World of Succulents

Provide indoor temperatures of between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit ( 21 to 26.6 degrees Celsius) during the spring and summer months. As a desert variety, the Mammillaria bocasana

prefers low humidity levels. Humid indoor conditions may require a dehumidifier to avoid stress or disease. 

Soil and Fertilizer

Create a well-draining soil mixture of equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. A cactus soil from a garden center is a great alternative. Grow your Powder Puff cactus in an unglazed clay or terra cotta pot with drainage at the bottom. These pots allow for natural wicking of excess moisture, which helps with root health. Feed the cactus during spring and summer with a liquid cactus fertilizer once per month. 

Powder Puff Cactus Propagation

Propagate cuttings by removing an established offset growing at the base of the mother plant. Use a sharp and sterile knife and wear gloves for protection. Set the cutting on a paper towel and allow the cutting to dry for several days to form a callus. Once the cut end has become callused, plant the cutting into a pot filled with a cactus soil mix or recommended soil mixture. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Provide indirect light and keep the plant warm until the new cactus grows roots. Once established, move the plant to increased sunlight and water normally.

Wintering A Powder Puff Cactus

Wintering A Powder Puff Cactus
Wikimedia

Blooming is increased when the Powder Puff cactus goes dormant for the winter months. Move your Mammillaria cactus to a cool place with temperatures between 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit ( 15 to 18 degrees Celsius) from end of fall until early spring. Withhold waterings, misting the plant if it begins to shrivel. Resume fertilizer feedings in the spring and move the plant to regular temperature and sunlight levels.

The Powder Puff cactus is an excellent choice for both new and experienced growers. It propagates easily and produces a halo of blooms that add a splash of color to this traditional cactus. 

Powder Puff Cactus FAQ

When Should I Repot My Powder Puff Cactus?

Repot the cactus in the summer when it becomes root bound in its current pot. Ensure the soil is dry and knock off any soil clinging to the roots when you remove it from the pot. Use a pot up to two sizes larger than the old pot and fill with cactus soil or your own mixture. Do not water the plant for one week, then reintroduce waterings slowly.

Will My Powder Puff Cactus Grow Outdoors?

Yes, this cactus will grow in USDA zones 9 to 11 without issue.

How Many Cacti are in the Mammillaria Genus?

There are believed to be over 275 different Mammillaria species, many of which are prized by cacti collectors.

What Type of Fertilizer Should I Feed My Powder Puff Cactus?

A good fertilizer for this cactus is a liquid 5-10-5 fertilizer which is low in nitrogen and potassium, but higher in phosphorus.

What Rooms in My Home are Best for the Powder Puff Cactus?

Rooms with ample, direct sunlight and good ventilation are the best. Avoid rooms with high humidity such as kitchens or bathrooms.

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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