Mammillaria gracilis var. fragilis, commonly called Thimble Cactus, is a tiny clumping cactus that usually gets no larger than about four inches high. It is a fast grower, and the new offsets easily separate from the main plant with the slightest disturbance. The cacti in the photo are offsets that I started last year from an older cactus. I also have many more growing in small pots. If I planted all the disarticulated offsets, Thimble Cactus would overtake my garden.
In its native habitat in Mexico, this cactus forms large clusters as it clumps. As the offsets are disengaged from the parent plant, they too will start producing their own offsets. I would like to try this in my garden, but probably in a large wok planter rather than in the ground. That way, I could easily protect it from frost and make sure it received the proper moisture.
This cactus has pale yellow flowers that appear in early spring. I think the star burst arrangement of the white spines is actually prettier than the flowers. For some reason, this cactus is a hit with kids. I entered an herb container filled with Thimble Cactus in our local Cactus and Succulent Society show this past spring. Kids just flocked around it. I think they like the tiny size more than anything.
What is your idea of a perfect garden? Find out what style best suits you by taking a quiz at the Monrovia (the plant people) website. After the quiz, it gives great ideas in plant choices and garden accessories to attain the ideal garden. In my case, the results indicated my ideal would be a tropical garden. Oh well. It was fun.