Coryphantha is a genus of small to middle-sized globose or columnar cacti commonly known as Beehive Cactus. They are native to arid parts of Central America, Mexico, Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas, and north into southwestern, central, and southeastern Montana. With its 57 species and 20 subspecies, it is one of the largest genera of cacti. The generic name "Coryphantha" is from Greek and means "flowering on the top."
Most species were at one time included in the genus Mammillaria. They differ primarily in that Coryphanthas flower from the first year of growth at the apex of the plant, while Mammillarias do not flower from new growth and instead flower in rings further down the plant in mostly second-year growth.
This genus is not at all rare in cultivation, but plants often exist without adequate identification. It is especially problematic because Coryphanthas are quite variable from seedling to mature age plants. Likewise, the presence of a central spine and extrafloral nectaries are variable even in mature plants. In this way, several specimens of the same species may appear quite different based on their age or expressed traits.
Growing Conditions and General Care
If you can grow cacti and succulents successfully, you can likely grow Coryphanthas without too much trouble. They love to be in a very bright exposure, but generally not to direct light of the sun. The risk, especially during the hottest hours of the day and during the summer, is getting sunburned.
The average winter temperature, in general, should not fall below 40 °F (5 °C) unless there are individual exceptions. Mature plants (at least two years of age) can withstand frosts, but only if the temperature rises quickly. To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and suspend watering.
Allow the soil mix to become nearly dry between waterings, then water thoroughly. Immaculate drainage is essential, so never let the pots sit in water. Suspend watering in the winter, but mist occasionally.
These cacti are very susceptible to rot and therefore require well-drained soil. Use a potting mix labeled for cacti or succulents.
Coryphanthas are slow growers and do not need much fertilizer. Just a couple of times per year will do. But if you want to fertilize your cactus regularly, do so in spring and summer with a general-purpose fertilizer formulated for use on houseplants. Follow the directions on the packaging.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Coryphantha, ensure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot.
Coryphanthas are usually propagated by seed.
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