Melocactus bellavistensis Rauh & Backeb.
Melocactus bellavistensis subsp. bellavistensis
Melocactus bellavistensis is a rare cactus, up to 10 inches (25 cm) tall, with red bristly cephalia. The stem is globose to somewhat elongate and conical, with 9 to 18 ribs, glossy dark green and up to 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. The spines are whitish to reddish-yellow, usually curved downward and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long. The cephalia is with exserted reddish bristles and creamy white wool, up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall and up to 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. The flowers are deep pink, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and up to 0.4 inch (1 cm) in diameter. They appear from spring to summer. The fruit are red and up to 1.2 inch (3 cm) long.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 30 °F (−1.1 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Melocactus are somewhat finicky cacti with unusual requirements. They shouldn't be allowed to completely dry out, even in winter and they can suffer from soil composition, drainage, water level, sun and more factors that are difficult to control. For that reason, these plants are best for growers who already have had some success cultivating cacti. Establish a balance with good aeration matched by ample water, good soil matched by good drainage and these plants should continue to grow. If they are grown successfully, their unusual tops make them among the more beautiful of desert cacti.
Notably, Melocactus like to be fairly packed in, so keep them in a fairly small container that slightly constricts their roots. Repotting them at the beginning of the growing season is a good idea until they form cephaliums and the body stops growing, and they should be repotted like other cacti.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Melocactus.
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