Pediocactus is a genus of cacti that includes some of the most miniature cacti in the United States, mainly growing in north Arizona and Utah. Eight of the nine species are rare, and most occur in very localized areas, sometimes just a few square miles. Pediocactus simpsonii is the most widespread and extremely cold hardy.
The generic name comes from the Greek "pedion," meaning "plain," after the Great Plains of the United States, where the plants are found. The species are referred to as Hedgehog Cacti, though that name is also applied to Echinocereus and Echinopsis. They may also be called Pincushion Cacti, a common name that is also applied to other genera.
These cacti are often the prize of collectors who can grow them as they typically prove challenging in cultivation, often grafted. They are small, globose with tubercles and small spines, usually solitary, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) tall. The spines vary and may be dense or almost non-existent. Flowers arise from the top of the stem and may be pink, white, or yellow. Fruits are somewhat fleshy, drying with age and dehiscent.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Pediocactus are difficult to grow on their own roots. Therefore, they are cultivated only by skilled and experienced cactus growers. The growing medium needs to be porous to drain well and dry out completely. They do best in partial shade and need protection from the sun during the hottest part of the summer.
These cacti do not like high temperature and humidity levels in greenhouses. They like "wind" and should be placed in a well-ventilated position. Water them moderately from spring to fall and let the soil dry out between waterings. The rest of the year, keep them in dormancy.
Pediocactus are very slow growers. For this reason, they are frequently grafted on strong, hardy cactus stocks like Opuntia and Echinocereus.
The flower buds stay dormant on the plant apex all winter. They will open in spring when the temperatures rise. To avoid any damage to flower buds, the grafted plants should not be let dry out completely. Light watering in winter is useful for keeping the flowers hydrated and healthy.
Pediocactus can be propagated from seeds. However, its seeds can take several years to germinate. Seedlings do not grow well either, and some of them die. For this reason, plants are frequently grafted.
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