Mammillaria bocasana subsp. bocasana
Mammillaria bocasana is native to northern central Mexico, from San Luis Zacatecas and Queretaro states in Mexico. Its type locality, which is the place where the species was collected for the very first time, is the Sierra de Bocas, that probabily is also the reason of the species name “Bocasana”. Its habitat are volcanic rocks on canyon walls and in steep slopes in semi-desert habitats, where the species can be found under bushes in association with several other succulent species belonging to the genera Echinocactus, Ferocactus, Mammillaria.
Mammillaria bocasana is a tiny, globose cacti that tends to propagate through offsets to form a clump of globose stems that look like cotton balls and earned it the common name “Powder Puff Cactus”, as the small rounded stems are covered in silky white hairs. The color of the stem is bright green to bluish green depending on the individual, and its maximum height is 12 centimeters, while its width reaches 7 centimeters. The stem, as in all Mammillarias, is furrowed by numerous tubercles. In this species, they are soft, slender, cylindrical, up to 8 millimeters in length and, unlike the ones of several Mammillarias, don’t produce latex. At the top of the tubercles, the spines grow. There are up to 50 radial spines, hairy, 1-2 centimeters long and white. The central spines, instead, are 1 centimeter long and are much shorter than the radial ones. Flowers bloom in Spring and Summer, are funnel-shaped and reach a length of 2 centimeters and a diameter of 1 centimeter and a half. Their numerous petals are lanceolate, spreading outwards and their colour ranges from creamy yellow to white to pale pink. They grow at the top of the stem in a crown-like pattern, as in all Mammillarias.
M. bocasana is usually not difficult to grow and might be the perfect cacti for beginner, also because it soon forms fluffy clumps of rounded stems which are very decorative either indoors or outdoors in a balcony or a rocky garden. Here below are our cultivation tips:
M. bocasana needs filter light if grown outdoors as, in its natural habitat, it grows under other bushes, and plenty of light if grown indoors. Sunburnts may occur if it’s exposed to sunlight for too long. however, intense sunlights enhances flowering and cause a bronzing of the plant.
Mammillaria bocasana can resist to extremely cold temperatures if its substrate stays completely dry (down to -12ºC!). However, to stay safe, we suggest to keep it at temperatures above at least 5ºC, and to keep it away from Winter rains.
Provide this plant with a good ventilation: place it exposed to air drafts. During the rest period it shouldn’t be exposed to atmospheric humidity.
Water moderately during the growth season and be extremely careful, as this plant is very sensitive to root rot. To reduce the risk of rotting, wait always for the soil to dry up completely before every irrigation. In Winter, keep its substrate completely dry.
Mammillaria bocasana requires a very well-draining substrate, but with an organic part more abundant than usual. A standard mix for cacti will do good, with some peat or humus.
During the summer, fertilize once with a product specific for cacti, rich in potassium and phosphorus and poor in nitrogen. Nitrogen makes the stem of these plants too watery and fragile and enhances the risk of rotting.
Use a clay pot to enhance drainage: pots shouldn’t be too wide, to control the attitude of this cacti to expand horizontally. Repot every two-three years.
Propagation can be carried out either through sowing and cuttings. Seeds must be placed on the surface of a sandy and humid soil at about 20 ° C. If you choose sowing as a method of propagation, remember that seeds usually germinate in 8-13 days at temperatures of 21-27ºC. They should be placed in a light substrate and maintained slightly moist and covered with a glass until they germinate. Don’t expose young plants to too intense sunlight.
M. elongata will soon form dense clumps and thus can be propagated very easily through cuttings. When it gets sufficiently clustered and the offsets reach a size of at least 1/3 of the mother stem, you can start to take off them with a sharp knife. Let the cutting dry up for a week or two, until you see that the wound has formed a callous. it in a pot filled with some cactus potting mix. Cuttings will take 42 to 6 weeks to root. It’s important to create a superficial layer of coarse grit and to lie the cutting on it: it prevents the wound to become too wet and, when roots are formed, it allows them to penetrate the compost under it.
While the name “Mammillaria” refers to the numerous tubercles of the stem of these plants, that look like nipples, the name “Bocasana” is probably related to te type locality of this species, which is the Sierra de Bocas”. The spines of this cacti were traditionally used as fish hooks.
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