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Mammillaria rhodantha (Rainbow Pincushion)


Scientific Name

Mammillaria rhodantha Link & Otto

Common Names

Rainbow Pincushion


Mammillaria bonavitii, Mammillaria calacantha, Mammillaria chrysacantha, Mammillaria fulvispina, Mammillaria fuscata, Mammillaria pulchra, Mammillaria rhodantha f. fulvispina, Mammillaria rhodantha f. ruficeps, Mammillaria rhodantha subsp. fuscata, Mammillaria rhodantha var. fulvispina, Mammillaria rhodantha subsp. rhodantha, Mammillaria ruficeps, Mammillaria rutila, Neomammillaria calacantha, Neomammillaria calacantha, Neomammillaria rhodantha

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Subtribe: Cactinae
Genus: Mammillaria


This species is native to Mexico.


Mammillaria rhodantha is a small cactus with dark green stems covered with tubercles and spines that grow from the areoles at the tip of the tubercles. It grows solitary or in small clumps. Stems are spherical to short cylindrical or club-shaped, with white wool in the axils, up to 16 inches (30 cm) tall and up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) in diameter. Tubercles are conical to cylindrical. Spines are variable in number, size, and color. It has 4 to 6 central spines and 16 to 24 radial pines. The central spines are reddish-brown or pale to golden yellow, slightly curved, and up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) long. Radial spines are white or yellowish and up to 0.4 inches (1 cm) long. Flowers are deep-pink to purple, up to 0.9 inches (2.2 cm) long, up to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) in diameter, and appear from spring to fall. Fruits are purplish-pink, cylindrical to club-shaped, and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long.

The specific epithet "rhodantha" derives from the Ancient Greek words "rhodo," meaning "rose-colored" and "anthos," meaning "flower," and refers to the coloration of the flowers.

How to Grow and Care for Mammillaria rhodantha

Light: Plant this cactus in an area of your garden that receives 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. If you are growing M. rhodantha 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. rhodantha requires a soil mix that provides root aeration and good drainage, whether grown outdoors or indoors. Use commercial cactus potting mixes or create your own potting mix.

Hardiness: This cactus is heat tolerant, but it is not a cold-hardy plant. M. rhodantha can withstand temperatures as low as 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b.

Watering: From spring to fall, water deeply and wait for the soil to dry out before watering again. Never let the pot sit in water. Suspend watering in the winter.

Fertilizing: M. rhodantha 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. rhodantha 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. rhodantha: 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 rhodantha

M. rhodantha is considered non-toxic to both humans and pets.


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