Mammillaria Zeilmanniana: The Rose Pincushion Cactus

The Rose Pincushion Cactus is native to Mexico and the south-western United States. Mammillaria zeilmanniana is a stunning variety of cactus that produces many flowers from its multiple clusters. The result, once the plant matures, is a blanket of blooms over the entire cactus.

Mammillaria Zeilmanniana

Rose Pincushion Cactus Appearance

Mammillaria zeilmannia has globular-shaped stems that grow into cylindrical stems as the plant matures. The cactus grows 5 inches ( 12 cm) tall and 3 inches ( 7.5 cm) wide. The Pincushion cactus features four central spines which produce clusters of 15 to 18 soft, hair-like spikes. Pale pink or purple blooms with yellow stigmas grow all over the tops of the cactus stems. Flowering occurs for most of the year in optimal conditions.

Rose Pincushion Cactus Light Requirements

This Pincushion cactus prefers indirect light from a west-facing window throughout the day or three to four hours of direct sunlight from a south-facing window. Correct sunlight helps with the cacti’s growth and blooming. Avoid full exposure all day as plants may scorch and turn yellow.

Water Needs

Mammillaria zeilmanniana prefers the soak and dry watering method. Let the soil dry completely between waterings, then soak the soil until the water runs out the pot’s drainage holes. Wait a few minutes for draining to complete, then discard water collected in the tray to avoid root rot. 

Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and Humidity
World of Succulents

The Rose Pincushion cactus thrives in most North American climates and households. Keep the cactus between 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit ( 10 to 30 degrees Celsius) for optimal blooming and growth. Average household humidity levels work well for this cactus but avoid kitchens or bathrooms where moisture is higher.

Soil and Fertilizer

Use a well-draining, loose soil mixture for your Pincushion cactus. A cactus or succulent soil works well. To mix your own soil, use equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. Feed the cactus once every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer. Continue feedings from early spring until fall to encourage blooming and growth.

Rose Pincushion Propagation

Propagate Mammillaria zeilmanniana by cuttings or seeds. Seeds are collected from dried blooms and surface sown in a container filled with cactus soil. Lightly cover the seeds with soil and keep the soil moist but not wet. Covered with clear plastic wrap to retain moisture and warmth. Place the pot in a warm location with temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit ( 21 to 24 degrees Celsius). Once the seedlings are established, move each new cactus to its own pot. Water when the soil is almost dry and place the cactus in bright, indirect sunlight.

To propagate by cuttings, select a mature offset and remove it with a sharp and sterile knife. Let the cutting rest on a piece of paper towel until it forms a callus over the cut. Plant the calloused end into a pot filled with cactus soil or a potting soil blend. Water lightly until the plant grows roots, then water like a mature plant. Place the plant in indirect, bright sunlight.

Wintering the Rose Pincushion Cactus

Wintering the Rose Pincushion Cactus
Wikimedia

Allow the Rose Pincushion cactus to go dormant for the winter months to rest and encourage blooms the following spring. Place your Mammillaria zeilmanniana in a cool area with temperatures around 50 degrees Fahrenheit ( 10 degrees Celsius) with limited sun exposure. Do not water or feed the cactus during the dormancy period. In early spring, reintroduce waterings slowly and move the plant into spring and summer lighting conditions. Resume feedings to encourage ample blooming. 

The Rose Pincushion cactus is one of the more impressive blooming cacti of the Mammillaria family. The plant’s clustering growth pattern and ample blooming create a bright burst of color once plants mature. Add this impressive and easy-to-care-for cactus to your collection.

Rose Pincushion Cactus FAQ

Will My Pincushion Cactus Grow Outdoors?

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

When Should I Repot My Rose Pincushion Cactus?

Repot the cactus in the summer when it becomes root bound. Let the soil dry out and knock off any soil clinging to the roots when you remove it from the pot. Use a pot up one 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.

Should I Water My Pincushion Cactus Before I Repot It?

No, when repotting your Pincushion cactus the soil should be dry to avoid root damage. Once repotted, withhold water for several days to allow the cactus to acclimate to the new pot.

Does it Matter What Type of Pot I Grow My Pincushion Cactus In?

An unglazed clay or terracotta pot with a bottom drainage hole is recommended. The porous material allows for wicking of excess moisture, which helps with root health.

Should I Mist My Rose Pincushion Cactus?

No, misting a Mammillaria zeilmanniana can lead to rot. Water directly into the soil when it feels dry to the touch. 

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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