Mammillaria decipiens is native to Mexico. In particular, it is from the regions of San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato and Queretaro. Its habitat are canyons and rocky slopes, where it often grow in the shade of some bushes. Individuals of this species tend to form sparse colonies. M. decipiens can be found associated to other succulents and cacti such as Opuntia leptocaulis, Myrtillocactus geometrizans, Ferocactus histrix, Echinocereus cinerascens, Mammillaria vagaspina, Yucca filifera, Agave salmiana, and Agave lechuguilla. Its habitat ranges between 1500 to 2200 meters above the sea level.
Mammillaria decipiens is a low-growing cacti, forming cute clusters of succulent stems covered in “nipples”, like in all Mammillarias. The name “Mammillaria”, in fact, refers to the numerous, nipple-shaped tubercles covering its stem. In the case of M. decipiens, the tubercles are soft, cylindrical, 2 centimeters long, very pronounced and numerous on the stem. On each “nipple”, numerous spines sprout, arranged in 5 to 11 radial one, pointing in all directions around the tubercle, and 1-2 central one, pointing outwards. Radial spines are shorter than the central one and are usually white, while the central spine is dark brown. Both the kinds of spine are slender and look like needls. The colour of the stem, instead, ranges from a bright green to a darker, more intense one according to the degree of exposure to sunlight and to the age of the plant. Flowers, as always in Mammillarias, are really cute; they sprout crowded at the top of the stems, are funnel-shaped, 2 centimeters long, equipped with numerous, pinkish-white petals. Fruits, instead, are reddish-brown and cylindrical, and they host light brown seeds.
M. decipiens is not so difficult to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:
If you choose to put it indoors, choose a spot exposed to direct sunlight. If, instead, you choose to place it outside, provide it with filtered light and some shade: remember that, in its natural habitat, it grows under other bushes.
M. decipient is a resistant species: it can drop to -5ºC if its substrate is maintained dry. By the way, to stay safe, we advice to put it indoors during the cold season or, at least, to shelter it, especially providing protection frmo Winter rains. Also, it requires strong light and low air humidity in Winter; a good idea could be to place it exposed to air drafts.
Water moderately from spring to autumn and regularly in summer. Also during the hottest period of the year, however, wait always for the soil to dry up completely before each watering, as this plant is subsceptible to rot. During the winter temporarily suspend the watering, preserving the plant from excessive moisture.
Mammillaria decipiens requires a porous substrate, rich in minerals and poor in any fertile part. No humus or peat should be present in its substrate. You can also use standard soil for cactus. Any substrate you choose, anyway, should be very well-drained.
During the growing season, fertilize once with a product specific for cacti, rich in potassium and phosphorus but poor in nitrogen.
Repot every year at the end of the vegetative period to support growth that is generally vigorous.
Propagation is usually done by sowing: the seed must be placed on the surface of a sandy and humid soil at about 20 ° C. Some species produce lateral suckers that can be cut and used as good cuttings. It is the case of M. decipiens it will form dense clumps in a very few years and it can be propagated very easily through cuttings. When your M. decipiens gets old and you see it’s sufficiently clustered, you can start to take off cuttings in spring and summer by cutting off the stem with a sharp knife. Put the cut branch in a warm place for around a week to let the wound dry up and then plant it in a pot filled with some cactus potting mix. 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. 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 glasss until they germinate.
The name “Mammillaria” refers precisely to the tubercles of its stems, that look like nipples.
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