Mammillaria bocasana (Powder Puff Cactus)
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Mammillaria bocasana Poselg.
Fishhooks, Powder Puff Cactus, Powder Puff Pincushion, Powderpuff Pincushion Cactus, Snowball Cactus,
Cactus eschauzieri, Chilita eschauzieri, Chilita knebeliana, Ebnerella bocasana, Ebnerella knebeliana, Ebnerella longicoma, Krainzia bocasana, Mammillaria eschauzieri, Mammillaria hirsuta, Mammillaria knebeliana, Mammillaria kunzeana, Mammillaria longicoma, Neomammillaria bocasana, Neomammillaria eschausieri, Neomammillaria longicoma, Neomammillaria schansieri
Mammillaria bocasana is a clump-forming cactus with globular to cylindrical stems that grow up to 4.8 inches (12 cm) tall and up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) in diameter. Stems are blue-green with numerous white, hair-like, up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long radial spines and 1 to 7 (one, occasionally two hooked), reddish-brown, up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long central spines. Flowers are creamy-white, creamy-yellow or pinkish, funnel-shaped, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter, and appear in spring and summer. The fruits are rosy-pink to red, cylindrical, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
This cactus is only suitable for outdoor life in USDA plant hardiness zones 9b to 11b. For gardeners in most zones, only indoor potted Powder Puff Cactus is an option.
Powder Puff Cactus needs plenty of sunlight and warm temperatures. It is happy as long as temperatures are between 70 and 80 °F (21 to 27 °C) and at least 8 hours of sunlight. During the winter, it becomes dormant and can be held in a dry, cool room of the house. The exposure to temperatures between 60 and 65 °F (16 and 18 °C) helps encourage flowering in spring. Move Powder Puff Cactus outside in summer.
The potting soil needs to be porous so it can drain well. Allow the soil to become nearly dry between waterings, but then water thoroughly. Never let the pots sit in water. Suspend watering in the winter, but mist occasionally.
Fertilize Powder Puff Cactus in spring with a 5-10-5 liquid fertilizer. Continue to feed the potted plant in summer, every month. Suspend fertilizer in fall and winter, when the plant is dormant.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for a Powder Puff Cactus (Mammillaria bocasana).
Mammillaria bocasana is native to Mexico (San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas).
Varieties and Cultivars
- Mammillaria bocasana var. splendens
- Mammillaria bocasana 'Fred'
- Mammillaria bocasana 'Multilanata'
- Mammillaria bocasana 'Roseiflora'
- Back to genus Mammillaria
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How to Grow Powder Puff Cactus Indoors
The Spruce / Anastasiia Tretiak
If you've spent any time at a nursery or garden center, chances are you've probably spotted one of the most popular members of the cacti family, the powder puff cactus. Beloved for its classic appearance, the powder puff cactus is part of the mammillaria genus, which contains at least 275 species of cacti, many of which are highly prized among collectors. Although this genus includes some plants that are difficult to maintain, the most common ones, like the powder puff cactus, are very easy to grow.
Native to Mexico, the powder puff cactus grows rapids, producing small, round offsets that cluster around the parent plant. The body of the cactus itself is stocky and usually a blue/green color, covered in white, silky hairs that encase the entire plant. It may look fluffy, but take care not to touch it—the spines are pretty sharp. It will produce small white or red flowers in summer, often in a circular or halo shape.
|Botanical Name||Mammillaria bocasana|
|Common Name||Powder puff cactus, powder puff pincushion, snowball cactus, fishhooks|
|Mature Size||3–5 in. tall, 2–4 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Sandy, well-drained|
|Flower Color||White, pink, red|
|Hardiness Zones||9–11 (USDA)|
In its natural habitat of Northern central Mexico, it is found between 1650–2300 meters above sea level.  It grows on canyon walls, in volcanic rock and in semi-desert environs, often under bushes of native plants.  It has been listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2009. 
Mammillaria bocasana is hemispherical in shape. It has "white, hair-like spines" that cover up its radial and hooked central spines.  During the spring and summer, it bears several cream-colored flowers.  Later it bears a red cylindrical fruit that contains reddish-brown seeds which display partially lateral hilum.  Its form can be variable, with many different varieties or subspecies. 
Mammillaria bocasana can be propagated from seed.  As it grows, it offsets, creating large mounds.  This cactus is prone to rot and can tolerate temperatures of -7 degrees Celsius (20 degrees Fahrenheit) for short amounts of time.  It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.