On October 28th as I was admiring the plants in the greenhouse, I looked down to find these two mammillarias beginning to form buds in their characteristic circle or halo on the tops of the plants.



I checked my inventory list to discover I have had these two mammillaria spinosissima cv. un pico since 2010, and much to my dismay, I can’t remember where I bought them! I googled it and found this variety classified as a stable genetic mutation of m. spinosissima. the mutation being that each tubercle produces only one spine where most mammillarias have several spines in each tubercle. The dark bluish-green color seems distinctive to me, too, since this is a less-seen color of cactus. At any rate, because of its mutation status, it may be a less-common plant to find in the big box stores-or maybe not-and I would love to know if it is more of a collector’s item not found just everywhere. Doesn’t matter; I do like having it in my collection, especially when it blooms.

The buds formed in October; by November 6th they began to open.


By November 9 the halo was beginning to appear.


And by November 15th the halo was complete on one of them.



This is what makes growing cactus fun, the surprises they present you with when they bloom. The big show is mostly over, but other late buds will continue to open. So if you have room for only one cactus, a mammillaria might be just the one to start with. You will have over 200 varieties to choose from, so start looking for one you like.