What Is A Thumb Cactus – Learn About Thumb Cactus Care

What Is A Thumb Cactus – Learn About Thumb Cactus Care

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

If you like cute cacti, mammillaria thumb cactus is a specimen for you. What is a thumb cactus? As its name suggests, it is shaped like that particular digit. The cactus is a little guy with a lot of personality, gorgeous blooms, and as an added bonus, ease of care.

Cactus enthusiasts love growing thumb cacti (Mammillaria matudae). They are diminutive but fit perfectly in dish gardens with other interesting succulents. Young plants are tidy columns but as they age, they tilt beguilingly and may add other stems for fascinating chaos. This native of Mexico is easy to grow and thrives where other plants cannot.

What is a Thumb Cactus?

The mammillaria thumb cactus is a drought tolerant, heat loving succulent. It hails from regions with low fertility and hot temperatures. The thumb cactus grows just 12 inches (30 cm.) tall in a smooth green column that is about one and a half inches (3 cm.) around. The central longer spines are reddish brown and surrounded by 18-20 short, white spines.

In spring, the plant produces hot pink flowers that ring the top of the column. Each starry bloom is half an inch (1 cm.) across. Over time, the cactus will produce offsets, which can be divided away from the parent plant. Allow the cut end to callus and plant in well-draining soil for a brand new plant.

Soil and Site for Growing Thumb Cacti

As you might suspect, thumb cacti like sandy to gritty, well-draining soil. There is no need to worry about fertility as the cacti is adapted to low nutrient situations. Plant outdoors in warm regions or use it as a houseplant that you can move outside in the summer. Purchased cactus soil is ideal but you can also make your own. Mix together one part soil, one part sand or gravel, and one part perlite or pumice. Situate the plant in full sun indoors. Outside, provide some shelter from the hottest rays of the day which can cause sunscald.

Thumb Cactus Care

There are really no tricks for growing thumb cacti. They truly thrive on neglect. Water them when the soil is mostly dry. Give them a nice deep watering but don’t let containers sit in a dish of water which might cause root rot. In the winter, suspend watering nearly entirely because the plant is dormant and not actively using much moisture.
Cool temperatures in winter will encourage flowering. Fertilize with a diluted cactus food as growth resumes in early spring. Once should be sufficient. Repot as needed but thumb cacti prefer to be crowded and usually only need repotting once offsets arrive.

This article was last updated on

Read more about Cacti & Succulents


Mammillaria

Mammillaria is one of the largest genera in the cactus family (Cactaceae), with currently 200 known species and varieties recognized. [1] Most of the mammillarias are native to Mexico, but some come from the southwest United States, the Caribbean, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala and Honduras. [2] The common name "pincushion cactus" refers to this and the closely related genus Escobaria.

The first species was described by Carl Linnaeus as Cactus mammillaris in 1753, deriving its name from Latin mammilla, "nipple", referring to the tubercles that are among the distinctive features of the genus. Numerous species are commonly known as globe cactus, nipple cactus, fishhook cactus or pincushion cactus though such terms may also be used for related taxa, particularly Escobaria.


What is a Thumb Cactus?

The mammillaria thumb cactus is a drought tolerant, heat loving succulent. It hails from regions with low fertility and hot temperatures. The thumb cactus grows just 12 inches (30 cm.) tall in a smooth green column that is about one and a half inches (3 cm.) around. The central longer spines are reddish brown and surrounded by 18-20 short, white spines.

In spring, the plant produces hot pink flowers that ring the top of the column. Each starry bloom is half an inch (1 cm.) across. Over time, the cactus will produce offsets, which can be divided away from the parent plant. Allow the cut end to callus and plant in well-draining soil for a brand new plant.


Mammillaria matudae Cactus

Mammillaria matudae / Thumb Cactus
Native to Mexico, this cactus offsets in clusters and spreads outwards. It has lovely bright pink flowers that form a ring around the apex of the plant. Free flowering and fast growing.

Care guide
Plant in well draining, fertile soil and place pot in a bright, warm, sunny spot. In the growing season, water well when soil is dry and feed monthly with a diluted low nitrogen fertilizer. Water sparingly in winter months and do not feed in dormant season. Never let the roots sit in water as this will cause them to rot. Can tolerate temperatures down to -4C when dry.

Watering
We recommend that the plants are watered from the bottom. This will prevent rotting of the plant, caused by water sitting on the epidermis or sitting around the base. It will also encourage roots to grow deeply, creating a stronger plant. To do this, sit the pot in a bowl of water for about 20 mins, less if the plant you are watering is particularly sensitive to being wet. Remove from the bowl, allow excess to drain away and repeat only when soil is dry.

Pots
Our plants are supplied in terracotta pots which allows the soil to breathe, creating stronger roots. Air and water can permeate through the unglazed surface of the pot leading to an all-round healthier plant. If ordering bare root, we recommend potting up in terracotta at home. After potting up, don't water for a week or two to allow any damage to heal before getting wet.

Packaging
You will receive a beautifully packaged plant with zero plastic. All of our materials are recycled when possible and we take lots of care when sending each plant off to their new home.

Please note
You are ordering the same species of the plants pictured, you will receive a similar plant.


Watch the video: Mammillaria Fragilis Cacti Care and Propagation. Garden Unboxing