Early May updates, part 3

Even though I’ve had cacti in the past, this is the first year that I’m making an effort to grow them well. I’ve added a number of small plants to my collection this spring, and some of them are now in bloom.

Let’s start with the genus Mammillaria. This includes some of the most popular cacti in home collections.  Most of them are native to Mexico, and their small flowers appear in a band around the top third of the cactus. This makes for a very unique look.

Mammillaria spinosissima (aka “red-headed Irishman”)
Mammillaria spinosissima,
view of the entire plant (6” tall)
Mammillaria hahniana (aka “old lady pincushion”)
Mammillaria hahniana, view of entire plant (2" tall x 3½" wide)
Mammillaria prolifera (aka “Texas nipple cactus”)
Mammillaria prolifera, view of entire plant (3" tall x 4" wide)

This next cactus, Thelocactus hexaedrophorus ssp. Lloydii, opened up today for the first time. The flower is almost as large as the entire cactus!

Thelocactus hexaedrophorus ssp. Lloydii just yesterday…

…and today when the flower opened up for the first time
What a beauty! The entire cactus is only 3" wide and 1½" tall!

My small bunny ears (Opuntia microdasys ‘Albata’) are getting ready to bloom as well. Their flowers should open up in the next week or so.

Opuntia microdasys ‘Albata’.
Will have lemon yellow flowers (see here).
Opuntia microdasys ‘Albata’

This prickly pear (Opuntia littoralis var. vasey) hasn’t produced any flowers yet, but it has grown two new pads. It’s very interesting to see how relatively large these soft pseudo spines are; as the pads mature, these spines will turn into bundles of glochids.

Opuntia littoralis var. vasey (aka “coastal prickly pear”),
a Southern California native

The next cactus was the first to bloom this spring. Check my earlier posts here and here to see photos of its floral glory. Its three flowers have dried up but are still attached to the cactus. I have no idea if they were pollinated, i.e. if there are viable seeds inside. I will wait until the dried flowers will fall off and then I’ll check for seeds.

Parodia werneri subsp.werneri, three weeks after blooming

The final image today is of the cactus seedlings I received from my blogger pal Alan in St Louis. This is a better photo of what they look like right now. In reality, they are a fraction of an inch tall—maybe 3-4 millimeters. I have no idea what cactus species this is, but not knowing is part of the fun. Right now, they look to me like engorged ticks with bristles!

Unknown cactus seedlings, 3-4mm tall


  1. Wow, you've been busy with the hot-glue gun! ;-)

    I think the Mammillaria prolifera is one I've had before as a houseplant, and if it touched me at all I'd have an allergic reaction -- super itchy for hours in that spot! I finally got rid of it.

    I'm glad I can't grow "bunny ears", because I'd certainly be tempted to stroke its fuzzy buds. I'm sure that wouldn't be a good thing.

    Great photos!

  2. Alan, yeah, I'm a regular Martha Stewart when it comes to glueing on cactus flowers :-).

    I know exactly what you mean about the bunny ears. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to touch the flower buds. They look even softer than the pads. But they're full of tiny glochids that are impossible to get out of your skin--highly irritating in more ways than one.

  3. That Lloydii flower is *amazing*! Is the cactus very small, or is the flower very large? Is the cactus super slow-growing, or is it still young? I didn't think young cactus flowered... so many questions.

  4. Alan, Thelocactus hexaedrophorus ssp. Lloydii (what would I do without copy & paste!) is a small cactus. Mine is 3" wide by 1.5" tall. Like many (most?) small cacti, it reliably flowers at a young age. As you can see, the flowers is almost the same size as the body of the cactus.

    If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that the cactus is 3 to 4 years old. It was propagated from seed by Lone Pine Gardens in Sebastopol, CA.

    You're thinking of the giant cacti, like saguaro and organ pipes. They don't flower until they're much older, but they also live much longer than small cacti.

  5. Beautiful photos again! I have the red headed irishman and another with the rim of pink flowers. I don't know all their names. And that Thelocactus bloom is outrageously beautiful.


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