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Mammillaria senilis

Cactus senilis, Cochemiea senilis, Mamillopsis senilis

AGM Award
Mammillaria senilis

Mammillaria senilis is a charming and visually striking cactus, known for its dense white spines and contrasting colorful flowers. Its ease of care, drought tolerance, and compact size make it a popular choice for cactus enthusiasts and those looking to add a unique plant to their indoor or outdoor succulent collections.

Mammillaria senilis: An In-depth Look

Mammillaria senilis, a member of the cactus family, is a distinctive and visually fascinating plant. It is prized for its dense covering of white spines, which gives it a striking, almost snowy appearance. This small, globular cactus has a compact form, with tightly packed areoles from which the spines emerge.

Native: This species is native to Mexico, specifically found in semi-arid regions. Its natural habitat contributes to its hardy and drought-tolerant nature.

Plant Type and Habit: As a perennial succulent, Mammillaria senilis typically grows as a solitary, spherical cactus, though older specimens tend to branch at the base, forming clumps.

Size: It remains relatively small, typically reaching only 4-6 inches in height (10-15 cm) and 3-4 inches in diameter (7-10 cm). Its compact size makes it ideal for cultivation in small spaces.

Flowers: Mammillaria senilis usually produces small, bright orange-red flowers that contrast beautifully with its white spines. The flowers are borne at the top of the cactus. Flowering usually occurs in spring, depending on the growing conditions. After flowering, it produces small, club-shaped silvery red to greenish white fruits that are also visually appealing.

Body: It resembles a cotton ball with its small, sharply hooked white spines and numerous white radials. The stem is globose to cylindrical, with conical tubercles adorned with wool and bristles but no latex. It has 30-40 thin, white radial spines up to 1 inch long (2 cm), and 4-6 central spines that are white with yellow tips, with the upper and lower ones being hooked.

Uses: Primarily used as an ornamental plant, it’s perfect for rock gardens, cactus collections, and as a houseplant in containers.

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 senilis 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 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 4" - 6"
(10cm - 15cm)
Spread 3" - 4"
(8cm - 10cm)
Spacing 4" (10cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
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 carmenae (Carmen Pincushion Cactus)
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 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 4" - 6"
(10cm - 15cm)
Spread 3" - 4"
(8cm - 10cm)
Spacing 4" (10cm)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral
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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