Mammillaria hahniana / Old Lady cactus
I finally got the Mammillaria hahniana and Mammillaria mystax into proper pots. They still look huge!
A recent cactus fiend
Here is a better shot of the frost damage from this winter on the Mammillaria hahniana. It looks like there will be blooms on the damaged side, but I’m intrigued as to how the cacti will respond to the burn as it grows.
“Most mammillarias come from Mexico. Characteristic of these plants are the conical to cylindrical nipples called mammillae which cover the stem, instead of the usual ribs, and the wreaths of small flowers growing from their axils. After the flowering period the wool in these axils is an attractive foil for the decorative fruit. This fruit is edible, often very tasty, and the Mexicans gather it much like the Europeans gather forest berries. The large genus of Mammillaria differs from the other cacti not only in the great variety of species (several hundred), but also in the their delicate beauty and easy cultivation.” Decorative Cacti: A Guide to Succulent House Plants, pg. 58.
Tonight’s stop on the plate tour from the volume that danger garden urged us to pick up is the heart of my cactus obsession: Mammillaria. What can I say, the above-listed reasons are precisely why I love the genus. To showcase some of the specimens features on the colour plates, I thought I would contrast them with examples from my own collection. I apologize for the quality of the photographs of the prints; I’ll try to swap them out with better ones when I can get better light.
Jalisco to Aguascalientes, Mexico
clumper with hooked spines
Guanajuato, Queretaro, and Tamaulipas, Mexico
densely covered in white hair, also a clumper
isolated micro-environment in San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
Mine is a “sport” variety with white flowers, although they are typically carmine.
If you never own another cacti or you own hundreds, your collection is not complete without a(nother) Mammillaria.
We have had another string of multiple days well below freezing after dark, but today we finally reached back into the 50s (the mid-70s of last Friday seem so long ago) and I went out to removed the frost cloth and pots covering some of the more sensitive plants. I decided to do an update while I was out in the garden:
It continues to die. The central pieces that were alive after the first freeze are gone now, with only a few suckers off to the sides still plump. The rest feel like unfrozen Fla-vor-ice popsicle sleeves. I’ll leave it to see what happens …
The orange bulbine withstood the first test, but it is now a mangled mess of mush (ohh, tongue twisters!). I wonder if the roots will pull this one through the winter?
On Christmas day, it looked like this. No wonder it is so damaged. This is one that I’m testing a fair amount below its natural range, so we will see how it fairs.
The M. hahniana is fairing much better than its neighbor with only minimal damage to a few tubercles. The flowers that recently emerged show little to no progress.
Opuntia microdasys montrose
The crazy bunny looks, well, crazy: pieces are broken, rotted, or dangling, but it has been in the garden three winters and knows how to bounce back in the spring.
Opuntia basilaris ‘Baby Rita’
More pieces have fallen off the Baby Rita, but the pads still look quite fleshy. I saw this one at the Dallas Arboretum, so I assumed they keep it out year round. It was getting too big for its location anyway!
These beehive cacti, as they would say in their native West Texas, have “hunkered down” for the winter. I can’t wait until they are blooming again.
The Devil’s tongue barrel has actually greatly improved in appearance since this summer - finally growing out of some earlier scarring. It is nearly as deep a green as when I bought it in 2011.
Opuntia ‘Mesa Melon’
This cold hardy prickly pear is looking pretty wimpy right now in its first winter outdoors. Hopefully a cold winter will encourage quicker growth in the spring.
Danger Garden’s post has me thinking about the advantages of living through winter in the garden, so I’ll close this one with a quote from American painter Andrew Wyeth:
I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show.