Neowerdermannia is a small genus of two species of spiny globose cacti that are very similar to the members of the genus Gymnocalycium. Flowers are borne near the apex and have naked floral tubes with white or pink scales. Fruits are globose and dehiscent.
The body features ribs that are not clearly defined and broken into rather pronounced tubercles. Areoles are small, at the top of the tubercles (not the ends), and give rise to 20 stout spines, which may be curved or even hooked.
The plants in this genus are found in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru, though not in great numbers. They are even more scarce in cultivation and grown by enthusiasts, but not commercially.
Light: Suited for sunny-brightly exposure. Can tolerate light shade.
Water: Watering in the summer months, while Neowerdermannias are growing well, can be frequent (weekly for small plants in small pots), but always allow the soil nearly to dry out before rewatering. Watering in the winter months at all is unwise and certainly not necessary. The difficult times are spring and fall.
Temperature: Neowerdermannias are very cold-resistant, as low as 14° C (-10° C) or less for short periods.
Soil: The balance of the potting medium should be sufficient to allow good drainage so that the plants do not sit in soggy soil for more than a day or two after watering.
These cacti are usually propagated by seeds but also can be grown by cutting or grafting. Seeds can be sown in the spring or summer. The seedlings should not be disturbed until they are well rooted, after which they can be planted separately in small pots.
Pests and Problems
Neowerdermannias are especially prone to root rot. Therefore, underpot in a smaller container filled with very porous soil mix.
Neowerdermannias come from mountainous areas, so they like bright light and cool and dry conditions in the winter, which is important for the flowers and their health. They usually would not get many buds without this cool winter period between 32 and 50 °F (0 and 10 °C). Neowerdermannias have a thick taproot and are of difficult cultivation and rot-prone because of their great sensitivity to excess water. It is not easy to get to any large size on their own roots really a challenge to grow into a large clump. Neowerdermannias need a deep pot and good drainage to accommodate their taproot. They are commonly grafted to avoid root problems and make them easier to grow. Neowerdermannias are easier to grow on graft, but the body splits if over-watered (especially in spring).
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