Mammillaria plumosa-Feather Cactus

Mammillaria plumosa after I put it in a pot on 9-22-18.

Feather Cactus

Mammillaria plumosa

mam-mil-AR-ee-uh  plum-OH-suh

Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit

Mammillaria plumosa F.A.C.Weber is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of cactus. It was named and described by Frédéric Albert Constantin Weber in Dictionnaire d’Horticulture in 1898. 


Mammillaria plumosa after I unwrapped it from being shipped on 9-22-18, #511-4.

I bought this plant from a seller on Ebay and it arrived on September 22 (2018). It was really NICE and arrived safe and sound wrapped in toilet paper. The selection on Ebay and a few groups on Facebook is much better than what I can find at Wal-Mart and Lowe’s…


Mammillaria plumosa with its roots on 9-22-18, #511-6.

The cluster measured approximately 3/4” tall x 2 1/4” wide. You cannot tell how many offsets are in the cluster because of all the fuzz. A single specimen of this species can take a couple of years to offset, but I can feel there are a few in this cluster of fuzz. It kind of reminds me of a VERY HAIRY Thimble Cactus (Mammillaria vetula subsp. gracilis).


Mammillaria plumosa on 9-22-18, #511-7.

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Coahuila, Nuevo León, & Tamaulipas in Mexico.
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20-40° F)
Size: Around 5” tall x 16” wide clumps
Light: Sun to light shade
Soil: Very well-draining soil. Potting soil amended with additional grit and pumice or perlite.
Water: Regular watering during the summer and barely in the winter. Keep water off the spines for best appearance…

Although most plants tolorate lower temperatures, frostbite is NOT a good idea. It can leave them scarred for life.

Mammillaria plumosa in its new pot on 9-22-18, #511-10.

I put the cluster in the smallest pot I thought it should be in for its size. Cactus do not need large pots because their root syatem is not that big. To much soil under the plant can lead to root rot, which is another reason not to overwater.

Its status in its natural habit is listed as “near threatened” by the IUCN Red List. Llifle said it grows on limestone cliffs in sparse xerophytic shrubland and there is a continuing decline due to ongoing plant collecting. Apparently the species is illegally collected for the ornamental trade. Locals collect the plant from the wild and sell them at local markets at Christmas time as they are used to decorate nativity scenes.

The name Feather Cactus comes from 40 or so interlacing radial spines that are kind of arranged like feathers. This furnishes protection against the hot desert sun. It has no central spines.

Mammillaria plumosa produces yellowish white flowers sometimes with pink midstrips which have a strong scent.

Most cactus suffer from overwatering during the winter months. As hard as it may be not to water your plants, you want to avoid it during the winter months. In fact, as soon as the temps start cooling off, start decreasing the amount you water your cactus and succulents. Even if your plants are inside, they still go into a dormancy period. If you can put them in bright light in a cool room, it would be ideal. Mine either stay in a south facing bedroom window or my kitchen windowsill, even though it is fairly warm, I only water a little maybe 3-4 times all winter. Not because they need it, though…

They do their best in full sun to light shade outside during the summer. If you keep them inside over the winter, it will be best to gradually introduce them to more sun over a couple of weeks. Otherwise they can burn. How could you tell with all the hair?

I will continue adding more photos and information as time goes by. This plant will definitely be interesting.

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.