This is my tiniest cactus—a Discocactus buenekeri—which is a true miniature and one of the smallest species in the genus. It is a mature specimen, and it’s only 1-1/2 inches high and wide. It won’t get any larger. Since it is mature, it puts all its energy into producing the little wooly top, or cephalium. The size of the cephalium on this specimen is as large as the cactus body! Currently there are only seven known species in this genus, which is native to Brazil’s tropical forests and currently on the endangered list in habitat.
The wooly cephalium is from where the flowers emerge, and the flowers can literally sneak up on you! They seem to pop up in just a few hours and bloom when the sun goes down. Last year, I didn’t even know it produced a flower and had bloomed until I stepped out on my patio, and a powerful gardenia-like scent permeated the air. Its one flower had actually perfumed my entire patio. This species usually blooms in April, May, or June, but last year, this one waited until August. With its stealth approach to flower production, it could be that I missed earlier flowerings and don’t even know!
The D. buenekeri produces many offsets that I remove and pot. I now have about 16 offsets growing from this specimen, and have given away at least that many. If I catch it flowering this year, I’m going to collect the seeds and try my hand at seed propagation.
I bring this cactus and all the offsets in the house in the winter because this species does not like temperatures under 50˚. I keep them on the dry side all winter, and then in spring, they go back outside in a shaded area during their growing period.