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Mammillaria carmenae (Carmen Pincushion Cactus)

Carmen Pincushion Cactus, Escobariopsis carmenae

AGM Award
Mammillaria carmenae, Pincushion Cactus

Mammillaria carmenae is a delightful cactus, known for its dense white spines, attractive flowers, and ease of care. Its adaptability to indoor conditions and small size make it a popular choice for enthusiasts and beginners alike.

Mammillaria carmenae: An In-depth Look

Mammillaria carmenae is a charming and popular species within the cactus family, admired for its ornamental qualities and ease of care. It is recognized for its spherical to slightly elongated shape, covered in dense white spines. It’s a small, compact cactus that forms clusters over time, creating an attractive mounded appearance.

Native: This species is native to Mexico, where it grows in rocky and arid environments. Its natural habitat has equipped it to be resilient and drought-tolerant.

Plant Type and Habit: As a perennial succulent, Mammillaria carmenae is a small solitary or clustering cactus. Its growth habit is globular, forming neat, rounded clusters.

Size: It remains relatively small, usually not exceeding 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) in height and 2 inches in spread (5 cm). This compact size makes it ideal for small spaces and container gardening.

Flowers: The plant produces small, delicate white to pink flowers that form a crown around the top of the cactus. The flowers add a striking contrast to the white spines. Flowering typically occurs in the spring or summer, depending on the growing conditions. After flowering, it produces small, greenish fruits that are elongated and club-shaped.

Body: This cactus boasts globose to ovoid stems, each topped with a crown of over 100 soft, flexible cream radial spines. The stems lack latex and have conical, woolly, and bristly tubercles. Notably, it lacks central spines, adding to its unique, star-like appearance.

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

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

Hardiness: It’s suited to USDA zones 10-11. In cooler climates, it is often grown indoors or in a greenhouse.

Toxicity: Mammillaria carmenae is not known to be toxic, but its sharp spines can be a physical hazard.

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: Offers low maintenance and aesthetic appeal. It’s ideal for adding textural contrast to collections and 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 grow 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 10 - 11
Plant Type Houseplants, 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 3" - 4"
(8cm - 10cm)
Spread 1" - 2"
(3cm - 5cm)
Spacing 2" (5cm)
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 Mediterranean Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

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

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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 10 - 11
Plant Type Houseplants, 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 3" - 4"
(8cm - 10cm)
Spread 1" - 2"
(3cm - 5cm)
Spacing 2" (5cm)
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 Mediterranean Garden, Gravel and Rock Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Guides with
Mammillaria
Not sure which Mammillaria to pick?
Compare Now

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