Mammillaria bombycina

Synonyms:

Neomammillaria bombycina

Habitat:

Mammillaria bombycina is native to Mexico, in particular to eastern Jalisco, at an altitude between 2340 and 2600 meters above the sea level. Its habitat consists in high mountains, where it grows on slopes and cliff in oak forests, often into cravices filled in a little leaf-litter soil. Though this species is subject to illegal collection and its area of occurrance is very reduced (160 square kilometers), its wild populations are not threatened with extinction.

Description:

Mammillaria bombycina is a little cacti, consisting in a single stem or in a cluster of stems. The stems are globose, club-shaped or cylindrical depending on the plant and the age. Like in all Mammillaria, the stem of M. bombycina is furrowed by numerous tubercles, which, in this species, are conical to cylindrical, occasionally producing latex, and equipped with a white, abundant wool in their axiles. The white hair covers entirely the stem, almost hiding it completely and making the areoles unnoticeable. Areoles are the typical buds of cacti, from which the spines are formed. Spines are arranged in numerous groups made of 30 to 65 radial ones and 3 to 8 central ones. The radial spines can be easily confused with the white hairs, as they are stiff, needle-like and very thin. The central ones, instead, are very flashy: they are yellow with slightly curved, dark tip and are very similar to hooks. The blooming season occurs in Spring: in this period, the top of the stem fills up with pink, 1.5 centimeters long and wide flowers, forming a crown-like, circular structure, very decorative and pretty. After their blossoming, the flowers form pinkish-green, ovoid fruits.

Cultivation:

M. bombycina is among the easiest cacti to grow, and might be the perfect species for a beginner. Here below are our cultivation tips:

M. bombycina needs filtered 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 healthy flowerings.
Mammillaria bombycina 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 bombycina 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 and repot every two-three years, as M. bombycina is rather slow-growing and will stay ok in the same pot for many years.

Propagation:

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. bombycina will can be propagated very easily through cuttings. When it gets sufficiently clustered (you’ll have to wait a little more than usual for this species to produce suckers, unlike in other Mammillarias) 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.

Curiosity:

Mammillaria owes its name to its tubercles, that look like nipples. The latin word “Mammilla”, in fact, means “nipple”.

Official Web Site:
www.giromagi.com

Italian Blog:
www.giromagicactus.com

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