Mammillaria candida


This species actually belongs to another genus, a new one, called Mammilloydia, which is an intermediate genus between Mammillaria and Neolloydia. This genus has different features in term of blooming and seed structure. M. candida has a few synonyms:

Chilita candida
Chilita estanzuelensis
Mammillaria candida var. caespitosa
Mammillaria candida var. estanzuelensis
Mammilloydia candida var. estanzuelensis
Mammillaria candida var. rosea
Mammillaria candida subsp. ortizrubiana
Mammillaria estanzuelensis
Mammillaria sphaerotricha var. rosea
Mammillaria candida f. rosea
Mammilloydia candida subsp. candida
Neomammillaria candida
Neomammillaria candida var. rosea


Mammillaria candida is native to Mexico, in particular to the states of San Luis Potosí, Coahuila, Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. Its habitat consists in well-drained plains among limestones cliffs, where it grows underneath other bushes, at altitudes between 500 and 2500 meters above the sea level. It’s often found associated with other drought-resistant species such as Agave stricta, Astrophytum senile, Mammillaria lenta and Hechtia glomerata.


Mammillaria candida, also called “snowball” for its dense white layer of crowded spines, is a spherical little cacti, rarely clustering and branching. It has a globose stem, eventually becoming slightly cylindric, that should be bluish green, however its surface is barely visible, being completely hidden by the densely crowded white spines. Like all Mammillaria, in this cacti, the stem is furrowed by numerous tubercles which are cylindrical and up to 6 millimeters long. At their axiles, there are some white bristles and, at their top, there are the areoles. Areoles are the typical buds of cacti, from which the thorns are developed. They are generally white, often woolly or hairy and button-shaped. In M. candida, they are of course white and woolly. Spines, as already mentioned, are white and very numerous, arranged in up to 120 radial ones, pointing laterally, and up to 12 central ones, pointing outwards, however, in this cacti, the distinction between central and radial spines is not clear as it is in other species and spines give more of an impression to point in all directions. From the top of the stem, in Spring, a crown of creamy white, gorgeous flowers are formed. They are funnel-shaped and have around 13 petals, creamy white with a pinkish, medial stripe. Fruits, instead, are fleshy, and pinkish or red,, and they host black, small seeds, about 1 millimeter big.


M. candida is a very easy to grow species, not requiring any special treatment, and might be the perfect cacti for a beginner. Here below are our cultivation tips:

M. candida 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 candida 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 candida 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. candida is rather slow-growing and will stay ok in the same pot for many 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. candida 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.


Mammillaria owes its name to its tubercles, that look like nipples. The species name “candida”, instead, refers to the white spines covering the stem completely, almost hiding it completely.

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