Mammillaria zeilmanniana, also known as Rose Pincushion Cactus, is a small cactus endemic to Mexico. Since its first discovery, it wasn’t identified in the wild until 1988. It is a very rare species only occurring naturally in a small canyon in San Miguel de Allende, Central Mexico. In 2001, it was recategorized as Mammillaria crinita f. zeilmanniana. But in most botanical texts, it’s still referred to by its original name.
Rose Pincushion Cactus is among the most attractive and desirable plants in cultivation. It has a clustering habit, making propagation easy. It has a tight grey-green ball with long spines that are white at their tips. The green of the body is heavily dotted with prominent areolas sprouting clusters of spines. The flowers are small but very showy. They appear on short stems and have pink to purple petals, rarely white. The flowers appear randomly throughout the year.
|Common Name||Rose Pincushion Cactus|
|Botanical Name||Mammillaria zeilmanniana|
|Synonyms||Mammillaria crinita f. zeilmanniana, Neomammillaria zeilmanniana, Chilita zeilmanniana, Ebnerella zeilmanniana|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||9 to 10|
|Mature Size||Height: up to 5 inches; Spread: up to 3 inches|
|Bloom Time||Any time of the year|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by offsets|
|Sun||Full sun to part shade|
Mammillaria Zeilmanniana Care
This little cactus has a big personality; the bright pink blooms that encircle its spiny green body cement it as a must-have plant for cactus lovers. It’s not hard to see why this cactus is such a popular choice for gardens and landscaping; it’s beautiful and easy to care for!
Light and Location
The Rose Pincushion Cactus is a sun-loving plant that does best in full sun to part shade. It tolerates some shade, but it will bloom less in shadier locations. When comparing specimens, it’s apparent that some are browner than others. This indicates that the cactus has been getting a healthy amount of light, and the blooms that follow will be vigorous.
Place the container somewhere it will receive at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. In the hottest months, it will appreciate some afternoon shade.
This cactus is very drought tolerant and can go long periods without water. When you do water, make sure to use room temperature water and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Over-watering is the number one cause of death for this plant, so be careful not to give it too much!
In the winter, reduce watering cadence even further. Mammillaria zeilmanniana is dormant in the winter and doesn’t need much water at all.
This cactus is quite tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. It can withstand below-freezing temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it will only do so if kept completely dry. Optimal temperatures in winter range from 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit. However, most gardeners keep it above 50 degrees just to be safe.
If you experience harsh winters, it’s best to bring the plant indoors or place it in a shady spot outdoors to protect it from the cold.
Rose Pincushion Cactus doesn’t have any specific humidity requirements but prefers dry air. Especially in the cold, when temperatures drop below freezing. A dry cactus is a happy cactus.
Mammillaria zeilmanniana is a light feeder and doesn’t need much fertilizer. Apply a diluted cactus fertilizer once or twice during the growing season (spring through summer). Less than half-strength fertilizer is recommended.
The Rose Pincushion Cactus is easy to propagate from offsets. To do so, carefully remove an offset from the main plant. Allow the cut to callus over for a few days, and then pot in well-draining cactus soil. Water sparingly until roots have had a chance to develop. Keep the soil barely moist, and place it in bright indirect light. Once offsets have taken root, transplant them into their own pots.
It can also be propagated from seeds, although this method takes longer and the seedlings are delicate. First, sow the seeds on top of a cactus or succulent mix and keep them moist until they germinate. Keep temperatures between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit (21-27°C) to provide optimal conditions for the seeds to germinate. Once they’ve sprouted, be sure to give them plenty of light but don’t overwater!
Potting and Repotting
Mammillaria zeilmanniana can be repotted at any time of year, but the best time to do so is in the spring before it starts actively growing. This cactus doesn’t grow too large so that it can stay in the same pot for many years. When it eventually outgrows its pot, pick a shallow pot for potting. Use a well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix, and be sure the container has drainage holes.
To repot, gently remove the plant from its current pot and lightly brush away any loose soil. Inspect the roots and if they’re crowded, tease them apart before transplanting them into a new pot. Add fresh potting mix to the new pot and water lightly. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Mammillaria zeilmanniana is not toxic to humans or animals. However, as with most cacti, the spines can be quite sharp so use caution when handling this plant.
Mealybugs are the only real concern with these cacti. If you see white, fuzzy bugs on your plant, they’re probably mealybugs. These pests are drawn to dry conditions and can quickly infest a cactus. If left unchecked, they will eventually kill the plant.
To get rid of mealybugs, you can also use a variety of insecticides but be sure to test a small area of the plant first to make sure it won’t damage the cactus.
How To Take Care of a Rose Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria Zeilmanniana) (Video)
How Do I Get My Mammillaria Cactus To Bloom?
To encourage blooming, make sure your cactus is getting enough light. It should be in a bright spot with at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. In the winter, you can give it a rest period by keeping it in a cool, dark place for about six weeks. This will help stimulate flowering.
Should I Water My Cactus When It Is Blooming?
Yes, it would help if you watered your cactus when it is blooming. Keep the soil barely moist, and be sure to empty the pot of any water via drainage holes so the roots don’t sit in water.
Why Is My Cactus Bending Over?
If your cactus is bending over, it is probably because it isn’t getting enough light. Move it to a spot with brighter light and see if that helps. If not, it could also be a sign of too much water. Check the soil to make sure it’s dry before watering again.
How Long Do Mammillaria Flowers Last?
The flowers of Mammillaria zeilmanniana only last for a few days, but they are quite beautiful while they last. The pink blooms make a halo around the cactus when they appear. Enjoy them while you can!