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A mature Parodia leninghausii, or Yellow Tower Cactus, for sale at Tula Plants & Design. A mature Parodia leninghausii, or Yellow Tower Cactus, for sale at Tula Plants & Design.

Parodia leninghausii

Botanical Name — Parodia leninghausii

Common Name — Yellow Tower, Lemon Ball, Golden Ball

Plant Family — Cactaceae


Background


Parodia leninghausii is a columnar cactus with approximately thirty ribs covered in yellow spikes. It is native to Southern Brazil. Easy to care for and commonly found in the consumer trade, it is an easy houseplant to come across. However, they are often more difficult to find in larger sizes. Slow growing, it reaches heights of one meter. Look for a crown of large, yellow blossoms in spring and summer.


Growth Requirements


Sun

  • These cacti prefer lots of sun, at least five hours of direct sun daily. However, they prefer to be protected from the sun during peak hours. Provide a sheer curtain or other light shade if place in a south-facing window.
  • Indoors, a western facing window is ideal. Outdoors, give them a place where they will get consistent dappled sunlight beneath taller plants or under a sun shade.

Temperature/ Humidity 

  • Temperatures above 70 ºF in the summer are preferred. But since these plants are native to mountainous areas of South America, they are also accustomed to seasonal cool weather. 
  • During the winter they prefer cooler temperatures, between 50 and 60 ºF. If grown outdoors, move them to a sunny windowsill inside in regions where temperatures regularly drop below 50 ºF.

Water

  • Parodia prefer to stay on the dry side. In the summer water them only when the soil has dried out entirely. Always error 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. Maybe even once a month or month and a half. It’s safe to cut back on watering entirely. This will encourage flowering during the spring!

Soil/Roots

  • Parodia are native to rocky, mountain slopes and a desert climate. They prefer a gritty, well-draining soil mix. A cactus mix works fine. You can amend it with sand or fine pumice up to 50% to improve grittiness and drainage. 

Flowering

  • Parodia leninghausii will produce a crown of gorgeous yellow flowers between spring and summer. Look for wide, 6-10 cm in diameter flowers. 
  • These plants flower once they’ve matured to a height of at least 8 inches tall. Exposing your cactus to drought while it is dormant during the winter will encourage blooming during the growing season. 

Fertilization

  • Typically, Parodia leninghausii do not require fertilization. You can feed them during the active growing season to give them a boost or refresh their soil. Apply a balanced fertilizer diluted at half strength, once a month. Never fertilize in winter.

Propagation

  • Parodia leninghausii are typically propagated by seed. Seeds are fragile and have a fairly short shelf life. Be gentle with them and sow quickly after harvesting to improve chances of germination. 
  • Very occasionally, these plants will produce offsets which can be separated and grown independently.

Health


Diseases

  • Parodia leninghausii are not especially susceptible to pests or diseases. Keep an eye out for common pests such as aphids, mealy bugs, and scale. 
  • Root rot can be a common issue in the instance of overwatering. 

Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

  • Parodia leninghausii are very low maintenance. They prefer to be pot bound. Repot them once every two to three years. Early spring is the best time to repot, when they are just waking from their dormancy. 

Toxicity

  • Parodia leninghausii are not known to be toxic to humans or pets.