The Powder Puff Cactus (Mammillaria bocasana) is a small, hairy cactus found in North-Central Mexico. It is a globular cactus that sometimes gets cylindrical with age. It grows about 4 inches tall and has a round body covered in white, hair-like spines. The stem is grey-green, but this coloration is rarely visible underneath all the dense hair. The spines are soft and silky, some longer than the others, covering the cactus’s body from every angle. Since this cactus has a clumping habit when mature, it looks like multiple cottony balls of fur clumped together.
The flowers are also striking, displaying a bright pink or brilliant white color. Blooms appear quite readily in their season (spring and summer), and gardeners are rewarded with these gorgeous flowers yearly.
Powder Puff Cactus Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Powder Puff Cactus, Powder Puff Pincushion|
|Botanical Name||Mammillaria bocasana|
|Synonyms||Cactus bocasanus, Chilita bocasana, Ebnerella bocasana, Krainzia bocasana, Neomammillaria bocasana|
|Common Cultivars||Multilanata, Roseiflora, Splendens|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9 to 11|
|Mature Size||Height: 3-5 inches; Spread: 2-4 inches|
|Bloom Time||Summer, Spring|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by offsets|
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
Powder Puff Cactus Care
Powder Puff Cactus is undoubtedly one of the easiest cacti to cultivate. It is often recommended to beginners as their first foray into the world of cacti and succulents precisely because of its forgiving nature. So, if you are looking for a low-maintenance plant that will brighten up your home with its beautiful flowers, then this is the plant for you!
Light and Location
This cactus prefers full sun to part shade. It grows in the partial shade beneath taller plants or trees in its natural habitat. However, it will still do well in full sun if it is not too intense (i.e., in the middle of the day during summer in a hot climate). Therefore, it is best to provide some afternoon shade for your plant in hot climates.
When it comes to indoor care, you can place a Powder Puff Cactus near a sunny window. Just make sure that the direct sunlight does not fall on the plant for more than 6 hours a day as this can cause the plant to become sunburnt.
Mammillaria bocasana are quite drought-tolerant and can survive long periods without water. However, they will thrive and flower more profusely if you water them regularly during the growing season (spring and summer). During these months, water your plant about once a week or when the soil has completely dried out.
In winter, reduce watering cadence to once every 2-3 weeks or when the soil has completely dried out. It is important not to over-water this plant as this can lead to root rot.
The Powder Puff Cactus is quite tolerant of both high and low temperatures. However, it does best in warm weather. In its natural habitat, the temperature range is from 60°F to 80°F (15°C – 27°C). On the flip side, it can survive temperatures as low as 23°F (-5°C) if kept dry.
This cactus does not appreciate high humidity levels and will do well in dry conditions. In humid conditions, the plant may start to drop its flowers and spines. Maintain average room conditions, and you should be fine.
During the growing season (spring and summer), fertilize your Mammillaria bocasana every 2-4 weeks with a half-strength cactus fertilizer. In the winter, stop fertilizing altogether.
Powder Puff Cactus (Mammillaria bocasana) can be propagated by seeds or offsets.
Propagating by Seeds
To propagate by seeds, wait until the flowers have faded and the seed pods have formed. At this point, take the seeds out of the pods. Once the pods have dried, they will split open and release the seeds.
Plant the seeds in a well-draining cactus mix and water lightly. Place the pot in a warm location, around 70-80°F (21-27°C). Keep the soil moist but not wet. Place the pot somewhere bright, with indirect light as direct sunlight will burn the seeds. Ensure good ventilation so the seeds don’t suffocate. The seeds should emerge within 2-3 weeks. Once they have germinated, transplant them into individual pots.
Propagating by Offsets
This cactus also produces offsets (or “pups”), which you can use in propagation. As we’ve mentioned before, this plant has a clumping habit; each “clump” is an offset that can be propagated into its own plant quite easily.
To do this, choose an offset that’s one-third the size of the parent plant. Carefully remove the offset from the parent plant and wait for the wound to callus over. Then, pot it up in a well-draining potting mix. Water lightly and place the container in a warm, sunny location. The offset should start growing roots within 2-6 weeks. Once it has rooted, you can transplant it into its own pot.
Potting and Repotting
Powder Puff Cactus doesn’t need to be repotted often. In fact, it will do just fine in the same pot for several years. That being said, it will eventually outgrow its pot and will need to be transplanted into a larger one. The best time to do this is in the spring.
When choosing a pot, make sure it has drainage holes as this plant does not like soggy soil. A terra-cotta pot is always a good choice as it allows excess water to evaporate quickly. Fill the pot with a well-draining cactus mix for best results.
To transplant your plant, gently remove it from its current pot and place it in the new one. Fill in around the roots with more cactus potting mix, being careful not to bury the base of the plant. Water lightly and place the pot in a warm, sunny location.
Mammillaria bocasana is non-toxic to humans or animals.
The Powder Puff Cactus is a pretty tough plant and is not often bothered by pests or diseases. However, there are a few problems that pop up from time to time.
Mealybugs – Mealybugs are small, white insects that suck the sap from plants. They can cause yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and flower loss. Wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. You can also treat them with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Spider Mites – Spider mites are tiny spider-like creatures that feed on plant sap as well. If you top-water, you’ll wash away the spider mites without even noticing they’re there.
The Best Way to Care for a Powder Puff Cactus – Step By Step Instructions (Video)
How Do Make Mammillaria Bloom?
Mammillaria bocasana will bloom naturally if it’s happy and healthy. To encourage blooming, make sure you’re giving your plant plenty of light and keeping it on the drier side (but not too dry!) in the spring and summer.
How Long Do Mammillaria Flowers Last?
The flowers of Mammillaria bocasana will last for about two weeks. They have a small window every year where they can bloom. The flowers are creamy-white, sometimes pink.
“仙人掌-高砂 Mammillaria bocasana [香港花展 Hong Kong Flower Show]” by 阿橋花譜 KHQ Flower Guide is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.