Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How to grow a pincushion cactus

Coryphantha bumamma

The symmetrical and rugged beauty of the pincushion cacti are appreciated by many. If you have never owned a cactus, you will be happy to find out that they are among the easiest of houseplants to keep!  If you have one or more sunny windows. A well-kept pincushion cactus should bloom for you. Cacti blooms are usually showy and colorful. This one is usually a late summer to fall bloomer with reddish-yellow flowers.

The Coryphantha bumamma, (really), is considered part of group called pincushion cacti, for obvious reasons. Its common name is "Starry Ball". This one can grow up to 6" (15cm) high. Of course, cacti prefer a desert setting and the "Starry ball" is naturally found in Mexico. The cacti family is so interesting and varied! As you look at them and think about these unusual, sometimes comical living things, it just makes you wonder.

I happened to see this very healthy and beautiful specimen when visiting my favorite florist in McLean, Virginia. They are happy to send plants or flowers almost anywhere in the world for you.

Care Instructions---  
  • Direct sun. Cacti will tolerate lower light for awhile but I recommend as much direct sun indoors as possible.
  • Water when dry about 1/2" or more below the soil surface. This can be difficult and maybe painful to gauge. There are water meters available on the market which can be very helpful for some and are highly recommended for cacti growing.
  • Another method that can help determine whether or not a cactus is ready for water is by checking the weight of the pot. Notice how the weight of the plant feels when it has just been watered, for comparison purposes. When it looks very dry on top and the pot feels much lighter than the just watered plant, it should be time for watering. 
  • Cacti do like to dry out but not to stay completely dried out for long. 
  • Fertilize every few months or so. They are slow growers so that should suffice.
  • There are cacti and succulent soil mixes on the market but you can also mix half sand and half potting soil when repotting.
  • The desert temperatures have an extreme range and if your home is cooler at night than it is during the day, that is best. 

  ***You can watch short video clips on plant care from my 90's TV series,if you click here:


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