Sclerocactus uncinatus


This name is a synonym of Glandulicactus uncinatus subsp. uncinatus.

Hamatocactus uncinatus
Pediocactus uncinatus
Thelocactus uncinatus


Sclerocactus uncinatus is a cacti with a vast area of distribution. It’s present in fact in many regions of Mexico and USA. Its habitat are xerophyllous scrubs. “Xerophyllous” is an ecological term referring to species that have developed mechanisms to survive in their native dry climates condition, including flashy leaves and enlarged rootstocks to save water, waxy pruines to minimize water loss through leaves or stem surface, and many others. S. uncinatus thrives on limestone-based soils, at an altitude range between 850 to 1600 meters above the sea level. Unlike many other cacti that tend to form colonies of individuals, S. uncinatus grows solitary, scattered in the environment.


S. uncinatus is a cylindrical, beautiful, usually unbranched little cacti (not taller than 20 centimeters), particularly appreciated in the ornamental plants market for the attractive, lumpy ribs of its stem, its coloured spines and its gorgeous blooming. The cylindical stem of this cacti is in fact divided into around 12-13 longitudinal ribs, which are kind of wavy (crenate), so that they may look like patterns of lined up tubercles. The tubercles may be more or less pronounciated and nipple-shaped depending on the individual. In younger plants, the division into ribs is still not clear and the stem has actually rounded tuberles and looks attractively lumpy. The areoles on the stem are white to brownish, and bear 9 white spines: one of which, the central one is slightly hooked and points outwards, while the other ones are arranged radially around the central one. The colour of the spines can range from a creamy white, to a pale yellow, a dull orange and a bright purple. To be clearer, the areoles are the typical buds of cacti, usually rounded, more or less hairy and prominent depending on the species, from which the spines are formed. Flowers are gorgeous and sprout from the top of the stem in groups of 7-8 Spring. They are funnel-shaped, up to 3 centimeters in diameter and to 4 in length; coloured often in a dark red, almost black, but ranging also into dull pink. Flowers end up to form bright red fruits.


S. uncinatus is pretty rare on succulent market and it’s not the easiest plant to grow, especially if grown on its own roots. Here below are our cultivation tips:

Put it in a bright spot, directly exposed to sunlight: this cacti will suffer, in fact, if kept in light shade, and will grow poorly and take unnatural forms.
If kept completely dry, S. uncinatus can survive to temperatures down to -7ºC. However, to stay safe, we advise to put it indoors in Winter, especially if you live in climates with humid, rainy Winters. The optimal solution could be a unheated greenhouse during the cold season.
Provide a airy environment. Stagnant air, along with overwatering, is the main cause of failure in the cultivation of this species.
Watering should be unfrequent. You should always wait for the soil to dry up before each irrigation. When the temperature, at night, falls below 10ºC, keep the plant completely dry. Irrigate with little water: these plants easily rot and die.
Choose a well-draining soils as always with cacti, sandy, gritty, and with an abundant mineral part.
Fertilization can be carried out once a year, during the growing season, with a product specific for cacti (better if high in Potassium and low in nitrogen), diluted in water, putting half the doses recommended in the label.
Repotting may not be necessary as S. uncinatus is a dwarf cacti and extremely slow-growing: it will be okay in the same pot also for several years.


Propagation is usually carried out by seeds. Seeds are generally easy to germinate. Sow them in sandy, well-drained soils, covering the pot with a sheet of plastic or glass for 1-2 weeks to keep the substrate even more moist. After removing the sheet, spray twice a day for the following two weeks, after which most seeds germinate. S. uncinatus is often found grafted, to enhance its growth rate and make it more resistant to rot.


Already from the name, “Sclerocactus”, which in Greek means “hard cactus”, you can see how tough these plants are!

Official Web Site:

Italian Blog:

Read our advice

Recent Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search