Tuesday, February 25, 2014

It's Not Always the Flowers

Mammillaria  formosa  subsp. microthele


The flowers of M. formosa subsp. microthele are small, white, and do not attract much attention.  However, later in the year, when the red fruit develops, M. formosa subsp. microthele is quite a show off.  Of course, the tight white spines and the compact, globose stems, with their dichotomous growth, do their part to make this a very attractive cactus.  The plant shown began as three seedlings I planted together in a small plastic pot.  More than twenty years of sun, regular watering, and repotting, has resulted in one of my favorite plants.  The only problem M. formosa subsp. microthele  has is hanging on to its fruit, which have become a favorite treat for local mockingbirds.   



  1. Do you pollinate the flowers or leave it to nature? I remember a class in a cactus show for a plant with fruit which was very attractive. Do you have trouble with birds as the frames are open?

  2. Hi Alain,
    I leave the flowers to nature. I don't collect any of the fruit for the seeds, but I enjoy seeing the fruit on the plant. Once the birds discover the fruit, they will go back to the plant repeatedly until they are all gone.

    I don't have any trouble with birds going into the open frames. Perhaps the small size of the frames creates a sense of confinement that the birds dislike. However, when the danger of frost is past I move all of the Show worthy plants in the frames to a side porch of the house. The porch is in full sun and right outside my dining room. There's a double set of sliding glass doors going from the dining room to the side porch. I can sit in the dining room and see all of the plants outside on the porch. I enjoy that. That's when the birds go after the fruit on the plants.

  3. Birds have got into the greenhouse in the past and got stuck on Mammillarias but I leave some plastic flapping in the doorways which seems to have stopped them getting in.