Mammillaria elongata, otherwise known as ladyfinger cactus or gold lace cactus, is a lovely species of cacti that you cannot possibly miss. An important member of the Cactaceae family, this cactus originates from central Mexico.
In its genus, Mammillaria, the ladyfinger cactus is probably one of the most popular ornamentals and most interesting species. And, in our humble opinions, it is by far one of the prettiest cacti out there.
What makes the ladyfinger cactus a one-of-a-kind plant companion is its low-maintenance habit and great looks. This cactus does not look like most ordinary species of cacti, as it comes with numerous harmless spines which form an eye-catching white, yellowish, or brown carpet. The spines are so many that you can barely see its cylindrical, green stems.
When it comes to its environmental and growing needs, the ladyfinger cactus will make a perfect desk buddy or windowsill companion to a novice gardener. Most growers absolutely adore this plant for its easy-going, forgiving nature. In other words, the Ladyfinger cactus will remain in shape even when it experiences conditions that do not match its native habitat.
Plus, it is tolerant of drought for long periods, so you can safely forget about this cactus from time to time without holding grudges.
Are you curious to learn more interesting facts about Mammillaria elongata a.k.a. the ladyfinger cactus? Keep reading our guide to find out everything about it! Be careful, though, as there is a good chance you will fall in love with this buddy.
About Ladyfinger Cactus
- The ladyfinger cactus belongs to the well-known Mammillaria genus of flowering cacti, which contains about 200 stunning species and varieties.
- Thanks to its cute appearance and low-demanding personality, the ladyfinger cactus is the recipient of the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.
- Although it shares most qualities with other members of the mammillaria species, the ladyfinger cactus also surprises us with several other gorgeous varieties. The most popular ones are ‘Copper King’, ‘Cristata’ (Brain cactus), ‘Golden Stars’, and ‘Julio’. Make sure you also check out these beauties!
- The ladyfinger cactus can be found growing in calcareous soils in matorral (shrubland). It typically occurs at relatively high altitudes between 4430 and 7874 feet (1350-2400 m) above sea level.
- This is an ornamental species that can make for a cute addition to landscape decorations like desert gardens, rock gardens, cacti & succulent gardens, xeriscaping, and containers.
- If you want to create a unique miniature plant landscape in your garden or home, you can plant your ladyfinger cactus near other charming species of cacti and succulents. Find companions that have similar growing demands, such as California barrel cactus, fairy castle cactus, feather cactus, silver torch cactus, orange crown cactus, button cactus, etc.
- Mammillaria elongata is perfectly safe to grow around curious kids, dogs, or cats. Although this species has many spines, they are usually harmless and don’t really sting. Still, you might want to prevent your children or pets from eating the spines.
Ladyfinger Cactus Features: An Overview
- Ladyfinger cactus is a perennial plant that forms dense groups of cylindrical, finger-like stems, which can be erect or semi-prostrate. Each stem can reach from 2.4 to 6 inches (6-15 cm) in height and 0.6 to 1.5 inches (1.5-3.7 cm) in diameter.
- Unlike many other species of cacti, which use their ribs to store water, the ladyfinger cactus has raised tubercles from which the spines emerge. When you water this cactus, the tubercles will expand to increase their water storage capacity.
- The stems consist of many spines, usually between 14 and 25 on each. The spines can grow up to 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in length. They appear in various shades of white, yellow, and brown.
- In spring, the Ladyfinger cactus may surprise you with blooming. The bell-shaped flowers show up on the upper part of the stems and measure a maximum of 0.4 inches (1 cm) in width.
- Ladyfinger cactus produce flowers that feature a generous colour palette for the ordinary cactus. The blossoms can exhibit different tints of white, yellow, pink, and sometimes also with pinkish mid stripes.
- When it receives proper care, Mammillaria elongata may bear fruits. The fruits are not edible. They appear pink at first but become red once the time passes.
Growing Ladyfinger Cactus
If you already have at least one species of cacti in your plant family, you are more than ready to bring a ladyfinger cactus home. If this is not the case, no worries! You will see that this cactus can be by your side for as long as possible with minimal effort on your part.
As long as you manage to spoil it with a bit of attention and love every now and then, your cactus will thrive for a long time. Now let’s see what you need to do to befriend this unique-looking plant.
First things first, lighting. The ladyfinger cactus thrives when it gets at least 4 hours of bright, direct sunlight daily. If you live in a warm climate, you plant this cactus in a spot where it gets plenty of direct light and where it does not experience shady conditions from objects or other species of plants. In indoor settings, you should place your ladyfinger cactus in front of east, north, or south-facing windows.
Temperature-wise, Mammillaria elongata a.k.a the ladyfinger cactus is not a very cold-hardy plant so it won’t survive cold climates.
This cactus does well in warm temperatures all year round. In case you live in a zone with temperatures that may drop below 20 °F (-6 °C), we suggest you grow this cactus in a pot and bring it indoors once the weather gets cooler.
The ladyfinger cactus is particularly attractive to some types of pests. The most common intruders that can bother this cactus include red spider mites and mealybugs. Luckily, these pests are very dangerous and if you spot them in time, you can help your plant get back in shape with just a few steps.
If you are dealing with red spiders, you can easily remove them by overhead watering. For mealybugs, the best chemical remedy would be to spray your cactus with a systemic insecticide once every few months until the infestation is gone. Another good approach is to wipe the insects with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol.
Planting Ladyfinger Cactus
In terms of soil, the ladyfinger cactus will grow at its best in a soil mix that comes with excellent drainage in general. You should also aim for an acidic substrate that features a soil pH of 6.1 to 6.5. The ideal growing medium for a ladyfinger cactus is usually a commercial cactus and succulent potting mix.
Likewise, you can plant it in a soil mix composed of one part perlite, one part clean sand, and two parts peat moss.
The roots of the ladyfinger cactus can easily become waterlogged in pots that do not have great drainage. Because of this, it would be wise to plant your cactus in a container that features several drainage holes at the bottom. Moreover, make sure you provide your cactus with good air circulation to avoid other fungal issues.
During its active growing period, the Ladyfinger cactus will need a little extra help from the gardener regarding fertilizing. We recommend you feed your plant with a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorous and potassium once every month from spring through summer. Look for a fertilizer that is also low in nitrogen, as this nutrient can affect the overall health of your cactus.
There is no doubt that your ladyfinger cactus will grow and spread throughout time. And, since good air circulation is mandatory for the well-being of this cactus, you will have to repot it once every two or three years.
This process will provide your cactus with enough space to develop properly and remain healthy. When the time is right, usually in early spring, all you have to do is transplant the Ladyfinger cactus into a pot that is slightly larger than the one it currently grows in.
- We guarantee plant's safe arrival otherwise we will refund or send you a replacement plant
- Known as the ladyfinger cactus, Mammillaria elongata forms clusters of cylindrical stems with yellow-brown spines, giving plants an overall golden brown appearance. Pink-yellow flowers may appear in spring.
- ms with yellow-brown spines, giving plants an overall golden brown appearance. Pink-yellow flowers may appear in spring. Easy to grow, it’s a great cactus for beginners. Its offshoots may be used to propagate new plants. For best results grow Mammillaria elongata in cactus compost in containers in full sun.
- Water from mid-spring to summer only, and feed once a month with a special cactus fertiliser.
- Mammillaria elongata is best grown as a houseplant but containers may be moved to a sunny, sheltered patio in midsummer.
- Important Info to Consider：Succulents display a wide range of shapes and colors. Depending on the lighting and watering conditions, they will exhibit different hues.
- Easy to care for: Succulents don't demand extensive maintenance, making them a versatile choice for different lifestyles.
- Thoughtful Gifts：Succulents make wonderful gifts for various occasions.
- Stylish Home Decor：Succulent plants add character and creativity to your living space. Also let your creativity flow in crafting.
Last update on 2024-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Watering Ladyfinger Cactus
The most common mistake among gardeners, especially beginner ones, is to over-water this drought-tolerant species. In general, over-watering a ladyfinger cactus will easily lead to root rot and even cause a fungal infection, which may kill it with time.
If you want to avoid this, keep in mind that, when in doubt, it is always better under-water your cactus instead of watering it again.
The ladyfinger cactus can thrive without frequent watering. This plant can store generous amounts of water for later, so it will not need your constant worry and attention.
In fact, it will appreciate it if you forget about it once in a while and it will actually forgive you if you are doing it for a longer time than expected. This cactus is basically the best companion for a novice or a neglectful gardener!
The best way to avoid over-watering your cactus is to use the popular “soak & dry” method. This technique consists of watering the cactus well until you can see the water getting out of the pot’s drainage holes. After this, make sure you remove all the excess water from the tray.
Now that the soaking part is done, you will have to wait for the substrate to dry out entirely before watering the cactus again.
Propagating Ladyfinger Cactus
Propagating a ladyfinger cactus can be a piece of cake if you are doing it with lots of love and patience. The best way to propagate this cactus is by using either seeds or cuttings. Both methods are easy and enjoyable even for those gardeners that do not have much experience with cacti or with gardening in general. Propagating cacti is a fun and enjoyable activity that you can try at home.
Growing Ladyfinger Cacti from Seeds
To start your own ladyfinger cactus from seed, you will first have to wait for it to produce flowers. Once it happens, you can collect the seeds and prepare for the real process. At first, you need to sow the seeds just above the moist potting mix.
For optimal growth, the seeds must germinate inside a glass cover where the temperature ranges from 21 to 27 °F (70-80 °C). If the seeds experience these temperatures, germination will occur after one or two weeks.
As the cactus develops, make sure you remove the glass gradually to help them receive good ventilation. This is the perfect time to use your patience because you will have to refrain from disturbing the seedlings until they produce roots.
But when the root system is strong, you can remove the seedlings and plant them in separate containers. After this, you can treat the baby cacti as you already do with the adult one.
Propagating ladyfinger cacti through cuttings
If you want to propagate your Ladyfinger cactus through cuttings, things get even easier. However, you can take cuttings from this cactus only when the offsets which you can notice at the base of the cluster are one-third the size of the parent cactus. But as long as you can wait for this to happen, you are just fine.
Propagating your ladyfinger cactus through cuttings is a good method to help it in case it looks somewhat overcrowded. And if you don’t have any available space on your windowsill for new specimens, you can always offer them as gifts to other cacti-loving family members and friends.
Look for the stems you want to use for propagation and cut them with a sharp, sterilized knife. Once you have the offsets, make sure you allow calluses to form at the cut ends in a warm and dry spot.
When the stems develop thick calluses, you can plant them in individual pots filled with a mix of cactus soil and coarse grit. In this part of the process, you should dip the cut ends of each stem only into the coarse grit.
This trick will help your offsets receive the nutrients from the compost which are mandatory for proper root growth. Once this step is complete, make sure you only water the substrate when it has dried out completely and wait for the roots to develop.
Mammillaria elongata a.k.a. the ladyfinger cactus is a surprising and unique-looking plat. Once you’ve added this cactus to your collection, you will surely become the best of friends. This cactus doesn’t need much to thrive – just a little bit of water, plenty of direct light, and some light fertilizing during the summer.
Once your cactus becomes comfortable in its new environment and starts to grow, you can move it to a larger container, and when it starts to feel a bit too overcrowded, you can propagate it using the methods described above.
Are you growing ladyfinger cacti? Let us know in the comments section!