Beehive Cactus

Beehive Cactus

Succulentopedia

Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar)

Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar) is a small cactus with ball-shaped or cylindrical stems densely covered in a mat of star-shaped arrays of…


Selecting Cold-Hardy Cactus Plants

Because of the wide variety of plants within each species, check the hardiness of all cacti before buying them for outdoor use. The champions of cold-weather cacti come from the prickly pear family, known botanically as Opuntia. Opuntia species come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. They grow with paddlelike pads and flowers that grow in red, bright pink, or yellow.

There are many kinds of cacti in this family, but two of the toughest are Opuntia fragilis, hardy to -35 degrees F, and Opuntia poryapantha, hardy to -25°F. The eastern prickly pear (Opuntia compressa), native to most parts of the eastern United States and southern Ontario, is an easy-to-grow choice. Its juicy red fruits (the "pear" of the common name) are edible.

Not all prickly pears are hardy in cold-winter climates. Other cactus plants with cold-weather tolerance to Zones 5 or 6 include:


There are four characteristics that distinguish Coryphantha from other cacti.

  1. Their bodies do not have ribs, just tubercles. [2]
  2. The flowers form at the top of the plant (the apex or growing end of the stem). [1]
  3. The tip (podarium) of each flowering tubercle has three parts, the spiny areole, the groove and the axil. Without the groove it is not a Coryphantha. [1]
  4. The seed coat (or testa) has a net-like pattern (reticulate). [3]

More than many other cacti, the Coryphantha change in their appearance over their lifespan. [4] The presence or absence of a central spine is not indicative of the genus, even in fully adult plants. [4]

Name Edit

The name Coryphantha was first applied by George Engelmann in 1856 as a subgenus, [5] the earlier name Aulacothele of Lemaire having been abandoned. [6] In 1868 Lemaire promoted the group to genus level. [5] [6] Before this all Coryphantha had been classified as Mammillaria.

  • Coryphantha calipensis
  • Coryphantha calochlora
  • Coryphantha clavata
  • Coryphantha compacta (syn. C. palmeri)
  • Coryphantha cornifera
  • Coryphantha delaetiana
  • Coryphantha delicata
  • Coryphantha difficilis
  • Coryphantha durangensis
  • Coryphantha echinoidea
  • Coryphantha echinus
  • Coryphantha elephantidens
  • Coryphantha erecta
  • Coryphantha georgii
  • Coryphantha glanduligera
  • Coryphantha glassii
  • Coryphantha gracilis
  • Coryphantha grata
  • Coryphantha guerkeana
  • Coryphantha hintoniorum
  • Coryphantha indensis
  • Coryphantha jalpanensis
  • Coryphantha kracikii
  • Coryphantha longicornis
  • Coryphantha macromeris
  • Coryphantha maiz-tablasensis
  • Coryphantha maliterrarum
  • Coryphantha melleospina
  • Coryphantha neglecta
  • Coryphantha nickelsiae
  • Coryphantha octacantha
  • Coryphantha odorata
  • Coryphantha ottonis
  • Coryphantha pallida
  • Coryphantha poselgeriana
  • Coryphantha potosiana
  • Coryphantha pseudoechinus
  • Coryphantha pseudonickelsiae
  • Coryphantha pseudoradians
  • Coryphantha pulleineana
  • Coryphantha pusilliflora
  • Coryphantha pycnacantha
  • Coryphantha radians
  • Coryphantha ramillosa
  • Coryphantha recurvata
  • Coryphantha reduncispina
  • Coryphantha retusa
  • Coryphantha robustispina
  • Coryphantha salinensis
  • Coryphantha sulcata
  • Coryphantha sulcolanata
  • Coryphantha tripugionacantha
  • Coryphantha unicornis
  • Coryphantha vaupeliana
  • Coryphantha vogtherriana
  • Coryphantha werdermannii
  • Coryphantha wohlschlageri

  • AulacotheleMonv. (nom. inval.)
  • Glandulifera(Salm-Dyck) Fric (nom. inval.)
  • RoseiaFric (nom. inval.)

A number of Coryphantha have previously been classified in other genera, indeed the type species C. sulcata was originally named Mammillaria sulcata [7] Other examples include Echinocactus salinensis Poselger 1853 now Coryphantha salinensis (Poselger) Dicht and A.Lüthy 1998 [8] and Neolloydia pulleineana Blackberg 1948 now Coryphantha pulleineana (Blackberg) Glass 1968. [9]

Similarly, a number of other species have been previously classified as Coryphantha. For example, Escobaria vivipara was called Coryphantha vivipara. [10]


The best cactus soil mix should be well-draining and contain about 2/3 of inorganic matter

The best cactus soil mix should be porous and airy. To make an ideal growing medium for cactus, mix gravel, grit, or similar ingredients with regular potting soil. The best ratio to create a potting mix for cactus or succulents is one-third organic matter (or potting soil which mostly contains organic matter) and two-thirds inorganic matter.

Suitable soil amendments to make your own well-draining cactus soil include small gravel chips, crushed granite, poultry grit, or aquarium gravel. You can also use pumice or perlite because it’s light and porous and excellent for amending cactus potting soil to improve drainage.

Of course, cactus plants—like all plants—need hydration to survive. The best way to water a cactus is to drench the soil and leave it to dry. The ideal cactus potting mix should dry out in a day or two. So, the perfect potting mix should be like that native habitat of cactus plants—dry, desert-like conditions.

For a homemade cactus soil mix, avoid soil amendments such as vermiculite. Although vermiculite helps loosen soil, it retains too much moisture, which is not ideal for growing cactus plants in pots.

Even though cacti grow in sandy deserts, adding sand to a cactus potting mix isn’t ideal. Sand can be too fine for the potting soil and not allow for sufficient drainage. The only type of sand to use would be very coarse horticultural sand. However, grit, gravel, perlite, or crushed stones are a better option for cactus soil.


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