Mammillaria is a beautiful cactus that comes in a range of varieties.

If you are looking for an attractive house plant that is easy to maintain, the mammillaria is a great choice.

How Big Does A Mammillaria Get?

There are several different varieties of mammillaria but they are generally small cacti with short cylindrical stems that either grows on their own or together in clumps.

Some of the smaller species of mammillaria won’t grow much bigger than an inch or so, while some larger barrel species can grow to more than one foot, while some species can form many mounds of stems and grow to be more than a meter tall.

Mammillaria Are Small And Very Easy To Care For

A Mammillaria cactus with pink flowers

Mammillaria cacti are small enough to stick anywhere and incredibly easy to look after.

They are perfect if you are looking for an interior plant that doesn’t die easily.

All you really need is some well-draining soil, warm temperatures, and good lighting.

They typically prefer to be kept close to the ground, so under a window would be perfect.

These cacti usually only grow to about one inch in diameter and up to one foot tall.

There are more than 300 species of mammillaria, but most aren’t ones that you will find in a nursery.

What Does The Mammillaria Cactus Look Like?

The ones that are available as a house plant will remind you of traditional looking cacti you might find in a Mexican desert.

The flowers are beautiful and most commonly pink in color.

You might also see the flowers in white, yellow, or red.

The most distinctive part of this cactus is the areole that is split into two separated parts.

One of the parts occurs at the apex of the tubercle, the other at the base.

The apex is spine bearing, and the base is spineless but has some bristles or wool.

The base most commonly bears the flowers and is the branching point of the plant.

The apex part will not have any flowers but may also be a branching point.

How To Care For Mammillaria

Different types of mammillaria species grow differently, but in many cases, these cacti grow in a similar fashion.

Most commonly, all you need to grow your mammillaria is a small pot that has a proper draining system.

You will also need a cactus mix, a blend of sand and soil, and some dry soil. 

You will also need to make sure your plant gets plenty of sunlight, but it does not need a lot of heat.

Direct sunlight in an area that doesn’t get too warm would be perfect. 

There is also no need to worry about supplemental fertilizing, but you will want to give your mammillaria some cactus food in the spring.

This is when your plant will actively grow, and cactus food will maintain the health of the cactus. 

Common Mistakes When Caring For Mammillaria


The most common mistake when caring for mammillaria is giving it too much water.

Excess moisture can cause rot and slowly kill your cactus.

It’s best to test the soil with your finger to check for moisture before you water it.

If the top one inch of soil feels dry, you can add water, but if you think it feels damp or you’re in any doubt, skip watering and let the soil dry out a bit more.

Less is more when it comes to watering these little cacti.

Allowing Your Mammillaria To Get Too Much Hot Sun

When kept as houseplants, you can sit these plants on a windowsill as long as they don’t get too many hours of full, hot sun.

They can tolerate about 4 hours of full sun per day, but this should be limited to morning times when the light from the sun is less intense.

You can move your cactus from window to window or find a permanent spot where it will get some sun in the mornings and then plenty of indirect sunlight for the rest of the day.

Not Taking Action Against Pests

You should also be on the lookout for mealybugs as they tend to infest mammillaria.

If you see mealybug eggs or mealybugs appear on your plant you’ll need to act.

Thoroughly wash or spray your mammillaria with an approved insecticide.

Another way to deal with mealybugs is to fill a container with water and add a small bit of dish soap or just lather up some hand soap.

Soak the entire cactus in the soapy water for about 20 minutes.

Then give it a good rinse off with water.

What Varieties Of Mammillaria Are There?

Some of the names for these cacti are very descriptive.

For example, one of the cutest types of mammillaria is the Powder Puff Cactus.

It has fluffy hair poking out that appears to be a dark pink color.

Even though they are cute, you will need to be careful with them, because the hairs can poke into your skin and be painful.

Related Article: Are Cactus Spines Poisonous?

Some other varieties include:

  • Mother of Hundreds.
  • Golden Stars (or Lady Fingers).
  • Old Lady Cactus.
  • Counter Clockwise Fishhook. Thimble Cactus.
  • Cushion Foxtail Cactus.
  • Strawberry Cactus.
  • Elephant’s Tooth.
  • Owl’s Eye.

Many of these names are super unique and fun, which can make them a great talking point when you have people over!


If you are looking for a cute little cactus to add to your indoor plant collection, mammillaria is a great choice.

There are several different varieties, each with unique and fun names.

The best part about them is they are pretty small, usually staying about 1 inch wide and 1 foot tall.

In some cases, you might see one grow up to 30 inches tall, but it depends on the type.

These are perfect house plants because they do not need much attention to thrive.

Give them a shallow pot with proper drainage, a mixture of sand and soil, and plenty of sunlight that is not too hot.

Your mammillaria will love it and really thrive in these conditions!