Parodia is a genus that includes a multitude of showy and easy-to-grow small ball cacti. After a reorganization of the genus, Parodia now includes plants formerly known as Notocactus, Eriocactus, and Brasilicactus. Parodias are native to central South America, where they enjoy more moisture than most people associate with cacti. They are also not full-sun plants, but they appreciate some daytime shade during the summer months of intense sun.
Depending on the species, older plants will frequently produce yellow, red, orange, or pink flowers. Overall, these are easy and excellent beginning cacti.
Light: Parodias typically do not like direct afternoon sunlight and should be in partial shade through the hottest hours. They can take direct sunlight in the morning and afternoons.
Water: Provide regular water throughout the growing season to keep the potting soil slightly moist. In the winter, cut back watering and let the soil dry between waterings.
Soil: A rich, fast-draining cactus mix is ideal.
Fertilizer: During the growing season, fertilize with a cacti fertilizer mix. These respond especially well to fertilizer. Suspend feeding during the dormant winter period.
Parodias can be propagated easily from offsets, which readily form in clusters around the mother plant's base. To propagate, carefully remove the offset and allow the cut section to dry on a paper towel for a few days. Depending on the size of the cut area, a callous will form over the cut surface. Once the callous has formed, place the new plant in a pot with a potting soil mixture and keep it in a warm place until new roots emerge. Once the plant is established, repot it into a regular container. Parodias are also relatively easy to grow from seeds. Once the sprouts have emerged, keep them regularly moist for a few months and be prepared to wait. Some of the more common Parodia species can take a long time to grow to a decent size.
Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot a cactus, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot. Knock away the old soil from the roots, making sure to remove any rotted or dead roots in the process. Treat any cuts with a fungicide. Place the plant in its new pot and backfill with potting soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the plant dry for a week or so, then begin to water lightly to reduce the risk of root rot.
If you can grow cacti and succulents successfully, you can likely grow the popular Parodia without too much trouble. However, it is key to remember that Parodias do not like direct sunlight and are accustomed to more even water than many other cacti species. Therefore, the cactus must not be exposed to prolonged dampness and sitting water. Never let your cactus sit in a dish of water. To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and dramatically cut back watering. However, unlike other cacti species, you do not need to stop watering entirely. Lastly, make sure to fertilize during the growing season for the best results.
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