Mammillaria polythele subsp. obconella (Scheidw.) D.R.Hunt
Cactus obconella, Mammillaria obconella, Neomammillaria obconella
Mammillaria polythele subsp. obconella is a small cactus with an erect stem with prominent conical tubercles tipped with four unequal central spines arranged in the form of a cross. The stem grows up to 24 inches (60 cm) tall and 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, initially spherical, becoming columnar with age. Spines are straight and yellowish when new and become somewhat recurved and gray as they age. They are up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long.
The flowers are rose-colored to pinkish-purple and appear in a ring around the apex of the stem in spring. Fruits are club-shaped, dull red or purplish, and contain tiny dark brown seeds.
Mammillaria polythele subsp. obconella is native to northeastern Mexico (Hidalgo, Queretaro, and Guanajuato).
The specific epithet "obconella (ob-KON-el-luh) means "like a small inverted cone; inversely club-shaped" and refers to the shape of the stem.
How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria polythele subsp. obconella
Light: Plant this cactus in an area of your garden that receives 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. If you are growing M. polythele subsp. obconella indoors, place it near the brightest window in your home or office to ensure your cactus gets enough light. If possible, place the pot on the balcony or in the garden for extra light from spring to fall.
Soil: M. polythele subsp. obconella requires a soil mix that provides root aeration and good drainage, whether grown outdoors or indoors. Use a commercial cactus potting mix, or create your own.
Temperature: This cactus is heat tolerant but is not a cold-hardy plant. M. polythele subsp. obconella can withstand temperatures as low as 25 °F (-3.9 °C). USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 9b to 11b, 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 to 10 °C).
Watering: From spring to fall, water deeply and wait for the soil to dry before watering again. Never let the pot sit in water. Suspend watering in the winter.
Fertilizing: M. polythele subsp. obconella can benefit from fertilization during the growing season. Apply a water-soluble fertilizer for cacti and other succulents. Suspend feeding during the winter when the plant goes dormant.
Repotting: Repot every two or three years into a slightly larger pot. The best time to repot your M. candida is late winter or early spring, but the repotting process can be done almost any time of the year.
Propagation: There are two easy ways to propagate M. polythele subsp. obconella: by seeds or by dividing offsets. The best time to remove offsets is in spring and summer. Sow the seeds in late spring or summer.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria.
Toxicity of Mammillaria polythele subsp. obconella
M. polythele subsp. obconella is considered non-toxic to both humans and pets.
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