Mammillaria elongata, Ladyfinger Cactus or Golden Lace Cactus is a small Mammillaria from central Mexico where it occurs at altitudes from 1,350 to 2,400 metres above sea level. It has a slender, usually upright stem although often becoming decumbent or prostrate with age. It freely forms branching offfsets typically from the base and extending some way up the stem. The colour of the spines is variable from a rich golden-brown through pale yellow to white. The form here is a dark golden-brown which I think is the most attractive of all the colour variations. In spring, Mammillaria elongata produces tiny white flowers with yellow anthers.
Like all cacti, Mammillaria elongata needs to be kept dry during the winter when it will benefit from a dormant period of non-growth. From March onwards, start to water, a little at first and allowing the potting mix to dry out between waterings. Mature plants can be given a weak potash feed in the early spring to encourage flowering. Water throughout the summer, taking care not to over-water and taper off in October. This is an ideal beginner's cactus and makes a perfect present for a child as their first cactus. A long as it isn't overwatered and doesn't sit in a saucer of water it will be fine on a windowsill or well-lit table-top. Sometimes a simple gift of an easy-to-cultivate plant like this can change a child's life and foster a love of horticulture and the natural world that will stay with them forever.
|Synonyms||Mammillaria densa, Mammillaria elongata subsp. elongata|
|Geographical Origin||Mexico: Guanajuato, Hidalgo and Querétaro|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Well-drained gritty alkaline substrate. Water sparingly through the growing season and keep dry in winter. Ideal houseplant|
|Hardiness||Cold tolerant, it will take a few degrees of sub-zero temperatures if kept dry in a cool glasshouse but outdoors is not fully frost hardy in most cold wet UK locations. Most will grow this as a houseplant to which it is perfectly suited|
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