I thought that those extra long nipples signaled a problem, so I gradually moved it into a brighter location and watered it more frequently, but didn’t overdo it. It probably received water 10 percent more frequently than before. It grew more “hair” because of increased light, and all seemed well. I stopped watering most of the Mammillaria earlier this month as they transition into winter dormancy, and this cactus was no exception.
Today as I surveyed my cactus collection, I noticed the M. bocasana looked a little odd—sort of shrunken and discolored on one side, and some of the hairs and spines were loose. The nipples were still green, but something just wasn’t right with it. I poked it a bit with a probe stick, and could tell immediately that it had rotted. In fact, the center was completely dry rather than the putrid mess usually found inside a rotting cactus, so it had been rotting for quite some time.
So much for experimenting. I’m not even sure the extra water caused the demise of this cactus. Over the course of 10 weeks, it only received one extra watering, hardly enough to result in rot. There are also other causes of cactus rot, but I don’t perform cactus autopsies. The cause of death will remain unknown. There will be no funeral.