If you think planting and managing succulents is a tough job, then we are here to clear your doubts. Most succulents grow effortlessly, and one of them is the Ladyfinger cactus. Besides having a cute nickname, it is surely worth every penny. These spiky cacti are beginner-friendly and can be grown as houseplants. Here is the ultimate guide on Ladyfinger succulent care and propagation, with its types!
About Mammillaria Elongata
The scientific name of Ladyfinger cactus is Mammillaria elongata. A native to Mexico, this small yet unique succulent belongs to the Cactaceae family and grows up to 8 inches in height. It develops dense clusters of cylindrical stems that bear brown-yellow spines. The winter-dormant cactus owns its common name because of its attractive finger-like stems that are long and narrow in appearance. Additionally, it blooms in pink to yellow-colored flowers throughout the spring season. Ladyfinger cactus has multiple common names, namely Gold Lace Cactus, Golden Stars, and Lady Fingers.
Ladyfinger Cactus Flowering
Mammillaria elongata blooms in subtle white to pale yellow colors during the spring season. The flowers are small and arise in the upper half of the stems. You will find several yellow stamens and a stigma in the center of your finger plant.
If the growing conditions are good, then the flowering should take place from mid-winter to late spring. In case the cactus has not bloomed by its growing season, you need to place your plant outdoors throughout the summers as it will start to bloom for some time. To ensure flowering takes place the next year, keep a check on your watering routine.
Lady Finger Plant Care
This Mammillaria cactus variety is used to negligence and thrives to its complete potential if taken care of well. It is adapted to survive in harsh desert areas and can stay for days without water.
Let’s shed some light on its care guide to make sure your Lady finger cactus stays healthy for longer.
- Light Requirements – This drought-tolerant succulent enjoys full sun and requires about six hours of bright sunlight each day. When planted indoors, it is best to keep it near a south-facing window. It can survive in partial shade as well.
- Water – Ladyfinger cactus is used to the typical watering methods. As it goes dormant in winters, watering once a month works great. During summers, you can water these plants once every week. It is recommended to use the soak & dry method as it ensures to avoid overwatering. If the soil feels dry while touching, there is no need to add water.
- Temperature – Golden stars are hardy in zones 9b to 11b. They grow in warm weather conditions. Thus, the ideal temperature range is between 18 to 30° C. If you live in areas with a minimum temperature of -6° C, consider planting this species indoors.
- Soil & Fertilizer - Mammillaria elongata should be grown in well-drained soil or a rich cactus potting mix. Keep in mind to use a pot with drainage holes so that excess water can be drained out. These cacti are prone to root rot and prefer moisture-free soil. Moreover, you can fertilize your ladyfinger succulent during its active growing season in the spring.
- Repotting – You can repot your Gold lace cactus anytime during the warm season. To begin with, take out the plant when the soil is completely dried out. Remove rotted roots and excess soil around them. Once done, place the succulent in a new planter and fill it up with a fast-draining soil mix, spreading the roots out. Let your plant dry out and recover for a couple of days. After some time, you can begin with watering the finger cactus gradually and placing it in a sunny spot.
Types of Mammillaria Elongata Succulents
- Mammillaria Elongata Copper King – A relatively fast-growing plant, the Copper king cactus grows up to 8 inches in height. It is an eye-catching cylindrical succulent with dense coppery spines. This cactus is hardy in zones 10 and cannot survive in temperatures less than -1.1° C. Suitable for growing outdoors, this variety of Mammillaria needs full to partial sun. It can also be planted indoors but ensure to place it in bright direct sunlight for a few hours every day. Copper king plant needs less water, especially during its resting period in winters. In addition, it blooms in adorable white-pink colors during its growing season in spring and summer.
- Mammillaria Elongata Cristata Copper King – Belonging to the Cactaceae family, this plant needs plenty of bright sunlight to thrive. It goes by its common name Brain cactus ‘Copper king crested form’. These globular cacti can be grown in the ground as well as in the container, making them a perfect houseplant option. Besides, they are heat tolerant and need little water to survive.
- Mammillaria Elongata Cristata – This is the most commonly found variety of Mammillaria. Having cylindrical to finger-like stems, these succulents can be propagated very easily and are also grown as grafted cacti. They bloom in whitish to pinkish colors throughout the spring. Although Mammillaria Elongata Cristata grows slowly, it is quite popular among plant lovers. Water sparingly during spring-summer and reduce watering during winters. It is hardy in zones 9 to 11 and cannot survive in temperatures less than -5° C. These plants are surely unique and look exotic in any corner.
- Mammillaria Elongata Pink Nymph – This cactus is known by its common name Lady finger cactus ‘Pink nymph’. Native to Mexico, it has conical stems that develop offsets. It prefers bright direct sunlight so keeping it near a west or south-facing window proves ideal. Apart from this, these succulents have beautiful pink-colored flowers that appear from late winter to spring. As they are adaptive to droughts, they need infrequent watering and a well-drained soil mix to stay healthy and free of root rot. Pink nymph grows with ease up to several inches, making for a good showpiece.
Mammillaria Elongata Propagation
It is easy to propagate Golden stars by three methods – Cuttings, offsets, and seeds.
Propagation with Stem cuttings
- Start the procedure by removing one of the stems from the mother plant. You can use a tong or a pair of clean sharp scissors.
- Leave the stem cutting to callous over for a couple of days.
- Now, place the cutting in a planter filled with well-drained soil. Let it recover before you start watering your new plant.
Propagation with Offsets
- As Ladyfinger cactus is a clumping variety, its stems are covered with offsets. Expansion of this species is done by separating these offsets and replanting them in another container.
- You can remove the offsets by simply pulling them or with the help of a sterilized knife.
- Once separated, let the offsets dry out for some time. Later, plant them in fast-draining soil for best results.
Propagation with Seeds
- Although a slow process, you can successfully propagate Mammillaria elongata from seeds. Seeds can either be taken from the present matured plant or an online garden store.
- This step involves sowing the seeds. Take a container and fill it with a well-draining cactus potting mix to prevent root rot.
- Water your plant frequently until cactus sprouts begin to appear. Soon the seedlings will grow, and then you can reduce watering.
Lady finger plant is a low-maintenance beginner cactus as it is undemanding, fairly simple to maintain, and needs minimal care. It will give you the flexibility to grow outdoors as well as indoors. Considering all the factors, buying these cacti is not going to make you regret it and will give you a trouble-free planting experience.