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Mammillaria candida (Snowball Pincushion)

Snowball Pincushion Cactus

AGM Award
Mammillaria candida, Snowball Pincushion Cactus

Mammillaria candida, commonly known as ‘Snowball’, is an attractive and easy-to-care-for cactus, known for its dense white spines and contrasting colorful flowers. It’s a popular choice for both beginners and experienced cactus enthusiasts, adding a unique element to any collection or garden space.

Mammillaria carmenae: An In-depth Look

Mammillaria candida, a member of the Cactaceae family, is a visually striking cactus known for its unique appearance and low maintenance. It is characterized by its spherical to cylindrical shape, densely covered with white spines that give it a snowy or silvery appearance.

Native: This cactus is native to Mexico, adapted to grow in arid and semi-arid environments, which contributes to its resilience and drought tolerance.

Plant Type and Habit: As a perennial succulent, Mammillaria candida grows as a solitary plant but can produce offsets with age. It features a globular growth habit, often forming clusters over time.

Size: It remains relatively small, usually reaching only about 12 inches in height (30 cm) and 8 inches in diameter (20 cm). This compact size makes it ideal for container gardening and small spaces.

Flowers: Mammillaria candida produces small, delicate, funnel-shaped rose-pink flowers that form a crown around the top of the cactus. The contrast between the flowers and white spines is quite striking. Flowering typically occurs in spring or early summer, depending on the growing conditions. After flowering, it produces small, red or pinkish, juicy fruits that are elongated and add an additional point of interest.

Body: Mammillaria candida is a captivating succulent with a dense covering of snowy white spines that almost conceal its bluish-green, spherical to short-cylindrical stems. The plant’s crown is distinctly depressed or flat, with broadly cylindrical, obtuse tubercles bearing 4-7 white bristles. It features 50-80 spines in several layers, including 6-12 central spines, white to pinkish, sometimes tipped in pink or brown, and 50-120 radial spines, spreading and white. These spines contribute to the plant’s stunning, snow-like appearance.

Uses: Mammillaria candida is primarily used as an ornamental plant. It’s ideal for rock gardens, cactus collections, and as a decorative houseplant.

Award: Recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Hardiness: It’s hardy in USDA zones 9-11 but is often grown indoors or in greenhouses in cooler climates.

Toxicity: There are no known toxicity issues with Mammillaria candida, making it safe around pets and children.

Wildlife: This cactus does not attract significant wildlife but can be a source of nectar for some insects during its bloom.

Deer and Rabbit: Generally resistant to deer and rabbits, due to its spiny nature.

Drought: Highly drought-tolerant, requiring minimal water, making it suitable for xeriscaping and arid garden designs.

Invasiveness: Not considered invasive; it’s a slow-growing, contained plant suitable for controlled environments.

Benefits: This cactus offers low maintenance and aesthetic appeal. It’s ideal for adding textural contrast to collections and is suitable for small spaces due to its compact size.

Mammillaria Growing Tips

Light: Prefers bright, indirect sunlight; can tolerate direct sun in cooler climates. Avoid harsh midday sun in hot climates to prevent scorching.

Soil: Requires well-draining cactus or succulent mix. Ideal pH is slightly acidic to neutral.

Water: Water moderately during the growing season; allow soil to dry completely between waterings. Reduce watering in the winter to prevent root rot.

Fertilizer: Use a diluted, low-nitrogen fertilizer designed for cacti and succulents during the growing season. Fertilize sparingly (once a month) to avoid excessive growth.

Pruning: Generally requires no pruning. Remove any dead or damaged spines to maintain plant health.

Propagation: Propagate by seeds or offsets. Allow offsets to callous before planting in well-draining soil.

Pests and Diseases: Watch for pests like mealybugs or aphids. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so ensure proper drainage.

Requirements

Hardiness 9 - 11
Plant Type Cactus & Succulents
Plant Family Cactaceae
Genus Mammillaria
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spread 6" - 8"
(15cm - 20cm)
Spacing 8" (20cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Plant of Merit
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil, Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Mediterranean Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Mammillaria carmenae (Carmen Pincushion Cactus)
Mammillaria senilis
Mammillaria plumosa (Feather Cactus)
Mammillaria prolifera (Texas Nipple Cactus)
Mammillaria bocasana (Powder Puff Cactus)
Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Pincushion)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Succulents
Mammillaria
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 9 - 11
Plant Type Cactus & Succulents
Plant Family Cactaceae
Genus Mammillaria
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 6" - 1'
(15cm - 30cm)
Spread 6" - 8"
(15cm - 20cm)
Spacing 8" (20cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Evergreen, Plant of Merit
Tolerance Drought, Dry Soil, Deer, Rabbit
Garden Uses Patio And Containers
Garden Styles Gravel and Rock Garden, Mediterranean Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Mammillaria
Not sure which Mammillaria to pick?
Compare Now

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