Melocactus matanzanus Léon
Dwarf Turk's Cap Cactus, Turk's Cap Cactus
Melocactus matanzanus is a small cactus with a spherical or slightly depressed, usually solitary stem with an attractive dense mass of areoles covered with white wool and reddish-brown bristles at the tip. It grows up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) in diameter, has 8 to 9 (rarely up to13) ribs, and is one of the smallest species that produce cephalium. The spines are brownish-gray or white and up to 2 inches (5 cm) long. Each areole bears one central and 7 to 8 radial spines. The cephalium is globose to shortly cylindrical, up to 3.6 inches (9 cm) tall and up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) in diameter, and will only begin growing after the stem has reached a certain age. Flowers are rose-pink to carmine, up to 2 inches (5 cm) long, and appear in a ring at the top of the cephalium in mid-summer.
USDA hardiness zone 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. Therefore, these plants are best for growers who have already had some success cultivating cacti. Establish a balance with good aeration matched by ample water and good soil matched by good drainage, and these plants should continue to grow. If they're grown successfully, their unusual tops make them among the more beautiful 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 cephalium, and the body stops growing, and they should be repotted like other cacti.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Melocactus.
This species is native to the north of Cuba.
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