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!