Frailea mammifera Buining & Brederoo
Astrophytum mammiferum, Frailea magnifica
Frailea mammifera is a small cactus, usually solitary, sometimes branching basally. The stem is subglobose or shortly columnar, with about 17 ribs, glossy dark green or purple, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) tall, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. The 2 to 4 central spines are golden yellow to brown, erect, and stout, while the 18 to 20 radial spines are yellowish or whitish, thin, and spreading. The flowers are sulfur yellow and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Fraileas perform best in full sun but be cautious about placing them too close to a southern window where the flesh can burn. The tone of the cactus is darkest when it enjoys a full day of sunlight.
This is a short-lived plant that rarely exceeds 15 years before it dies back. Here is a fun bit of Frailea information. If plants are growing where no water is available, they have the interesting ability to hide in the soil. Don't be shocked if your plant seems to have disappeared, as it is simply retracted under the soil just as it would do in the dry season in its native region. Once sufficient moisture is available, the plant swells and is again visible on the top of the soil.
Caring for Frailea is a balancing act between sufficient moisture but periods of soil drying, so water is the biggest challenge in Frailea cactus care. Choose water that is free from heavy minerals. Water well once per week in summer, but in spring and fall water only once every three weeks or when the soil is quite dry to the touch. The plant experiences no growth in winter and does not need water.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Frailea.
Frailea castanea is native to Brazil.
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