Friday, October 26, 2007

There's A Cactus In There

Mammillaria plumosa

When I first obtained this Mammillaria plumosa, (Feather Cactus) it had beautiful, fluffy white, feathery spines and had not yet tillered. (Tillered is another term for clumping or producing basal offsets.) It remained beautiful until I accidentally doused it during my watering routine. It then looked like it needed a good shampoo, but that was taboo.

It’s important not to get the spines wet when watering this species. Actually, the proper method is to place it in a dish of water, and let the soil absorb the water through the drain hole. Because it looked so ratty and had a spongy feel a few weeks later, I thought it had rotted, but I didn’t dump it right then. I just left it where I keep spare pots and stuff, figuring it would dry up and I would dispose of it later.

A few months later, I was looking for a pot in my stash. Much to my amazement, this supposedly rotting cactus had tillered and now had seven new heads. I hadn't watered it in months, it had gone through the heat of May, and actually thrived.

As this Mexico native continues to grow, it will produce more and more heads until it looks like a shallow bowl of cotton balls. Next month, I will give it one last drink until late March. During this winter rest, it may or may not produce inconspicuous white flowers. One never knows. It is not a reliable bloomer. Nevertheless, it’s certainly a survivor!


MrBrownThumb said...


How big is your collection of C&S? I guess when you live in AZ you have more space than a couple of windows like I do.

I have this plant it was given to me by a friend last year and it was a pure white color when I got it. Then one day it fell over and got dirty and has never looked the same.

Didn't know about the watering though-I've let the rain deal with the watering this summer. Thanks for the tip.

I have a "living stone" that's blooming right now that I posted about yesterday. What do you have in that area in your collection?

Do you ever hang out on the Cacti and Succulent board on gardenweb? They have a few knowledgeable people that help me by answering questions and post some awesome pics of plants I've never seen in person.

No Rain said...

I have at least 120 different species of potted cacti and 50-60 succulents in pots. In the landscape, I probably have another 50 varieties of cacti and succulents. My property is 3/4 acre, so there's room for all of it. However, my patio is getting a bit crowded with all the varieties that can't take full sun. I really need to stop, but, I just picked up two more really nice cactus specimens this past week.
There are some genera and species of succulents that I stay away from--and Lithops are in that category. I've never had good luck with them, or Crassula, Duvalia, Echeveria, Sedum, and Sempervivum, all of which seem to melt in this climate. I do have one Pleiospilos nelii (Split Rock) that has survived out of quite a few that bit the dust.
I do occasionally check out Garden Web. It does have some good info, and I like to use it to verify specific species if I have doubts about the labeled info.
Thanks for asking.

MrBrownThumb said...


I just saw your re on my blog and actually saw that you had replied. I like the new feature of getting notified when you leave a comment on a blog.

I lived in AZ (Sedona) for a while and wish I had been into C&S when I lived there. I remember I used to pass by a little cacti nursery on a road that lead up to Jerome from Cottonwood. So many options I could have had if only I knew I'd end up falling for these little guys years later.


kate said...

"I really have to stop" ... that sounds like one of my familiar refrains. You must have a wonderful collection and no wonder you want to keep adding to it.