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Plants belonging to the genus Mammillaria they are native to Mexico or other areas of America that have a desert climate, are numerous and are very resistant. Belonging to Cactaceae family, these plants usually grow by enduring very heat during the day and very cold at night, in conditions in which other plants would never survive. Mammillaria are equipped with very particular stems that allow them to get by even in prohibitive climates because they are able to accumulate and store water. The thorns, instead of the leaves, prevent dispersion.
To successfully grow these plants you need to place them where they can take a lot of light, both in summer and in winter, so better if we can arrange them facing south, avoiding at all costs to expose them to the north.
In summer the optimal temperatures range from 15 to 24 ° C, in autumn and winter just stay around 13 ° C or in any case never go below 10 ° C. Whenever the earth is dry, we must water the Mammillaria, at least once a week on average, in the summer, while in the other periods it is also good to do it once a month. It is important not to overdo it and, above all, not to allow water stagnation that could form damage the roots very seriously.
Even if they are thorns it is not easy to do it, the Mammillaria they must be repotted every now and then, whenever the pot begins to be too small for their roots which tend to grow very and quickly on their own. In nature, a desert cactus of just 15 cm can have roots that expand for one square meter, those of Mammillaria they mainly expand in search of water. When we repot we can take the opportunity to do a general check, eliminating any blackened or greyish roots armed with disinfected scissors and fungicidal powder for healing. The soil for repotting must also contain coarse sand, we also use pieces of earthenware to avoid water stagnation.
Every three weeks, in spring and summer, the Mammillaria they must be fertilized with liquid fertilizer to be diluted in the irrigation water, while in autumn it can be suspended until the following spring because the plant is in vegetative rest. The best fertilizers for flowering are those with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but also with microelements such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu).
If we have done everything as prescribed, at the beginning of the summer we can see i first flowers which usually form a kind of crown on the top of the plant and last all summer.
There are at least 170 species that belong to this genus among which we remember the Mystax, the Albicoma, the Grahami, the Bossfeldiana, the Longiflora and the Zeilmanniana. There are also the Tablet and the Spinosissima. Although it is often called a succulent plant, Mammillaria is a succulent because it accumulates lymph in its tissues. It is also devoid of branches, so the flowers are forced to grow directly on the stem which can be globular or cylindrical.
The feature that makes the difference between this genus and the others of the Cactaceae family, is the presence of small tubercles arranged in a spiral with an areola with more or less robust thorns.
All the Cactaceae they turn out to be robust and resistant plants, it does not often happen that they get sick but they are not "immortal" and can have problems, even when we fail to cultivate them.
If we have placed them in a place without enough light, for example, these plants do not bloom, they stretch and turn light green. When the problem is the scarcity of water le Mammillaria they discolour and seem “emptied”, it can happen especially in summer and it is necessary to irrigate them regularly immediately to try to make them resume.
If the green parts turn brown, we are keeping the plant in a too hot environment, it is better to move it, if instead they become soft, we have exaggerated with water and Mammillaria it is rotting and it is difficult to save it. You can try by removing the plant with all the earthen bread from the pot and letting it air dry while we cut the already rotten roots with a sharp and disinfected scissors, sprinkling them with a fungicidal powder.
It can also happen to see the plant deteriorate from day to day, for no reason, and it is then the fault of the cottony cochineal, an insect that feed on plant sap up to kill her. It is urgent to intervene by removing the plant from the pot together with all the earth and washing the roots under a jet of warm water. Then we can repot the plant with new soil in a clean pot.
Mammillaria multiplies by division of basal shoots or by seed. To understand which technique to adopt, it is necessary to consider some aspects of both. If you proceed with the seed, for example, it is not certain that they will have plants that are the same as the mother plants. If you want a precise plant, it is better to use multiplication by cuttings
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