Gymnocalycium gibbosum


Cactus gibbosus
Echinocactus gibbosus
Echinocactus gibbosus var. typica


Gymnocalycium gibbosum is native to Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Argentina South where the plant grows on sandy or gravelly alluvial soils and can spread up to 1000 m of altitude.


Gymnocalycium gibbosum is a small perennial cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has a solitary habit and can reach up to 10 cm in height and 13 cm in diameter. The stem is globose to ball-shaped, apically depressed, glaucous-green to brownish-green in color, arranged in 10-16 well marked ribs made of tubercles. The areoles are small, woolly, deep-set, whitish to greyish and bear the spines. The 5-7 radial spines are thin, curved against the plants, short, pale brown tinged with black at the base. The 0-2 central spines are very similar to the radials. Blooming occurs from the late spring to the early summer and the blossoms least for twelve days. The flowers are large, funnel-shaped and are white with a brownish mid stripe and sometimes reddish; the stamens are yellow and the calyx is greenish. This plant is fast growing and can bloom 1 year after the sowing. The fruits are oblong and green in color.


The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 7° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.


Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.


Its name comes from the Greek “ghymnòs” (naked) and “càlyx” (calyx) and refers to the calyx of the flower, which is “naked” because it has no scales or hairs to protect it.

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