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Parodia ottonis (Indian Head Cactus)


Scientific Name

Parodia ottonis (Lehm.) N.P. Taylor

Common Names

Indian Head Cactus


Parodia ottonis subsp. ottonis, Malacocarpus ottonis, Notocactus ottonis

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Notocacteae
Genus: Parodia


Parodia ottonis is an attractive, dwarf, clumping cactus up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall. The stem is spherical or cylindrical, up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, with a flattened top, deep green to bluish-green and can get deep purplish to maroon during winter dormancy. The spines are slender, hair-like, curved or twisted and up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) long. The flowers are yellow and up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) in diameter.


USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

If you can grow cacti and succulents successfully, you can likely grow the popular Parodia without too much trouble. It is key to remember, however, that Parodia don't like direct sunlight and are accustomed to more even water than many other cacti species. It is imperative that the cactus is not 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. Unlike other cacti species, however, you don't need to entirely stop watering. Lastly, make sure to fertilize during the growing season for the best results.

Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Parodia, 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.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Parodia.


Parodia ottonis is native to Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Subspecies, Varieties, Forms, Cultivars and Hybrids


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