Family: Cactaceae
Common Name: Pincushion Cactuses

This genus of over 150 species of freely flowering cactuses originates from the tropical Americas and the Caribbean. Generally small and clump-forming, they have a wide range of spine colours. All have a ring of flowers around the crown of the plant. Flowering times vary greatly. This cactus group is popular with growers and collectors as it is easily grown and flowers reliably.


M. bocasana, snowball cactus, is a silky-haired, clump-forming species with hooked spines and small, cream flowers.

M. camptotricha, bird's nest cactus, has a clustering habit. The yellowish spines are long and twisted, and the small, white flowers are scented.

M. elongata has clustering, finger-shaped bodies with different coloured spines. It produces cream flowers.

M. hahniana is covered with long, white hairs and produces purplish red flowers in a perfect ring.

M. longiflora has a small body, but large, pink, long-tubed flowers.

M. prolifera is a clustering type, known as little candles, with tiny stems, cream flowers and red berries.

M. senilis is a slow grower, eventually forming clumps, covered with white spines and producing scarlet, long-tubed flowers in spring.


In areas prone to frost, grow in pots in an airy, intermediate conservatory or greenhouse. These cactuses also make good house plants. Use a proprietary cactus compost and ensure maximum light, but shade from strong, direct sun. Water normally from spring to autumn and keep virtually dry during the winter. Propagate in spring from seed germinate at 20°C (68°F) or from offsets in spring.


Zone 10.

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Malvaviscus      Mandarin