Mammillaria bombycina is a fine cactus to grow at home. Not only is it good-looking, as it has interesting spination, but also it easily grows into beautiful clumps. And it is one of the less finicky Mammillarias, putting up with quite a range of light and water, though like others of its genus, not much water in the winter. More to the point for this season, it blooms in the winter! (As well as usually spring and summer.) This photo was taken in December, and as this is written in January, the plant is still blooming away. The flowers are small but very colourful, and because usually there are many flowers blooming at once, the plant is a great antidote to the monochromatic outdoors. It is such a popular cactus that, unfortunately, collectors have nearly wiped it out in its wild homeland of west-Central Mexico. According to Wikipedia, it is considered endangered in the wild.*
*From Cereusly Speaking, January 2017
Cacti for connoisseurs by Colin Bundred
(A look back: this is from the June 2012 Cereusly Speaking.)
Cleistocactus strausii: Not an uncommon plant, but when well grown, an uncommonly handsome specimen, fully justifying its common name of the “Silver Torch Cactus.” It’s a plant of the high mountains of northern Argentina and southern Bolivia. It grows easily from seed and
can quickly reach its mature height of 7-8 ft. when re-potted on a regular basis. It branches profusely from the base, forming imposing clumps in less than ten years. Its size can be restricted by keeping it somewhat potbound, which does nothing to take away the attractiveness of the plant. It’s a heavy bloomer from a relatively young age; the red 2”-3″ long tubular flowers are a delight against the shining silvery body of the plant.
The plant shown is 6 years old from seed, it’s 22″ tall, in a 9″ pot.