Mammillaria spinosissima f. rubrispina
No synonyms are recorded for this species name.
Mammillaria spinosissima f. rubrispina is a cultivar, thus it can’t be found in the natural environment. However, the oregular species, M. spinosissima, is native to a vast area in Mexico. It is precisely the vastity of its habitat the reason why this species has several different varieties and subspecies: the slow and relentless process fo adaptation of this cacti in different microclimates has given birth to several, differentiated forms. However, as just said, the habitats of this cacti are variegated, they are generally located at altitudes between 1600 to 1900 meters above the sea level, in tropical dry forest.
Mammillaria spinosissima f. rubrispina is a red-spined cultivar of M. spinosissima, very sought after for the decorative potential of its red, long thorns. It is a columnar cacti, generally solitary, however it might get clustered as it ages, always shorter than 30 centimeters. Its cylindrical, elongated stem is bright green and furrowed in conical but four-sided at their base tubercles. At the axiles of the tubercles grow some soft, white hair, and, at their top, there are the areoles. Areoles are the typical buds of cacti. It’s from them that the spines are formed. Spines, instead, the most decorative element of this cultivar, along with its flowers, are arranged in up to 25 radial ones, which don’t even look like spines and are instead white and more bristle-like, and up to 15 copper-red central ones, pointing outwards, much stronger than the radial ones. They are up to 1.2 centimeters in length and are what makes this species so decorative and sought after. At the top of the stem, the red spines are so numerous that they cover completely its surface, forming a red, intricate layer. In late Winter, purple flowers grow at the top of the stem, forming like a crown. They are 1 centimeter in length and diameter and are funnel-shaped. Blossoming last all Spring long and flowers turn into purplish red fruits that host brown, small seeds.
M. spinosissima f. rubrispina is a very easy to grow species, not requiring any special treatment, and might be the perfect cacti for beginners. Here below are our cultivation tips:
M. spinosissima f. rubrispina 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.
M. spinosissima f. rubrispina 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.
M. spinosissima cv. “rubrispina” 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. spinosissima cv. “rubrispina” is 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. spinosissima cv. “rubrispina” 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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