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Mammillaria gracilis cv. oruga

Botanical Name — Mammillaria gracilis cv. oruga

Common Name — thimble cactus

Plant Family — Cactaceae


Mammillaria gracilis are small mammillaria cacti that grow in clusters with multiple offsets. Found in southwestern United States and Mexico these plants are native to an arid environment. Oruga is a cultivated variety grown for its small stature and densely clustered spines.

Growth Requirements


  • These cacti prefer lots of sun, at least five hours of direct sun daily. 
  • Indoors a south facing window is ideal. Outdoors place them in  a spot where they will get plenty of sun exposure, but provide them with light shade to protect them from intense, peak afternoon sun.

Temperature/ Humidity 

  • Mammillaria gracilis do best in high temperatures and low humidity. Ideal temperatures are above 70 ºF. These plants should be brought indoors when nighttime temperatures fall below 50 ºF. 


  • Mammillaria gracilis prefer to stay on the dry side. In the summer water them only when the soil has dried out entirely. Always err on the side of underwatering. They are built to withstand drought, and overwatering is one of the quickest ways to kill them.
  • During the winter water very infrequently, if at all. It’s safe to cut back on watering entirely. This will encourage flowering during the spring!


  • These plants require a gritty, sharply draining soil mix. Amend regular potting soil with sand or fine pumice up to 50% to improve drainage and soil texture. 


  • Small, creamy, yellow to pinkish colored flowers in the springtime. To encourage flowering give this plant a true dormancy during the winter. Place indoors in a cool spot (away from a heater) and suspend watering until the spring time. In the spring and summer, be sure to give the plant sufficient light.


  • Fertilization of this plant is not required. To give these plants a boost during the growing season, apply a fertilizer formulated for cacti and succulents


  • This plant produces many offsets which can easily be separated and grown into individual plants. 



  • These plants are not especially susceptible to pests or diseases. Keep an eye out for pests that commonly affect houseplants, such as scale and mealybugs. Also look out for any unusual spotting that may be a sign of an infection. 
  • Treat infested plants with diluted neem oil. If plants are infected with a bacterial or fungal disease, prune away any affected parts of the plant. 

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • Little maintenance is required for these plants. Repotting should only be necessary once every two to three years. Be sure to select a pot at least two to three inches wider in diameter, to give the plant plenty of room to grow. 


  • This plant is not reported to be toxic, still, to be safe, it is a good idea to keep out of reach of pets and children.
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