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Turbinicarpus subterraneus


Scientific Name

Turbinicarpus subterraneus (Backeb.) A. D. Zimm.


Echinocactus subterraneus (basionym), Gymnocactus subterraneus, Neolloydia subterranea, Rapicactus subterraneus, Thelocactus subterraneus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Turbinicarpus


Turbinicarpus subterraneus is one of the most unusual and fascinating cacti. It is usually solitary, club-shaped, bluish-green, up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall, up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. The stem is typically prostrate, flaring out after a very long slender neck that separates the large tuberose root from the enlarged apical part of the plant. The flowers are whitish to pinkish-magenta with pink or brown mid-stripe, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long, and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. The fruits are small, greenish-brown, relatively dry, and unattractive.

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USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Turbinicarpus prefer to be in a well-ventilated position in full sun to maintain a good body color and spinal development. The golden rule when it comes to watering is "never water when the soil is still damp." This is the one error that will certainly kill any plant. Watering should commence in the spring, depending upon the weather conditions at the time. The plants should initially be given a light spray to encourage them to grow gently.

These cacti are all able to withstand high summer temperatures and indeed benefit, providing accompanied by proper ventilation. Do not be tempted to overcrowd the plants. They will be far happier with a little space to allow the air to circulate. Winter temperatures can be set as low at 44 to 46 °F (7 to 8 °C). Indeed the plants need these low temperatures to ensure a sustained dormant period resulting in proper growth and flowering the following growing season.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Turbinicarpus.


Turbinicarpus subterraneus is endemic to Mexico. Its natural habitat is hot deserts.


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