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Lady Finger Cactus (Mammillaria elongata) - 2.5 inch potted Cactus

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Lady Finger Cactus (Mammillaria elongata) Description and Planting Instructions
Scientific Name: Mammillaria elongata
Common Names: Lady Finger Cactus, Gold Lace Cactus, Golden Star Cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Native to central Mexico
Appearance: The Lady Finger Cactus is a small, cylindrical cactus that forms dense clusters of finger-like stems. Each stem is covered in a dense array of short, golden to reddish-brown spines that give the cactus a fuzzy appearance. The stems can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter. In the spring, it produces small, white to pale yellow flowers along the sides of the stems.
Planting Instructions
1. Choosing the Right Location
Temperature: The Lady Finger Cactus prefers warm temperatures and can tolerate temperatures down to about 25°F (-4°C) for short periods. It thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9-11.
Sunlight: This cactus requires full sun to partial shade. It does best in bright, indirect light when grown indoors.
Type: Use a well-draining cactus or succulent soil mix. If using regular potting soil, amend it with sand or perlite to improve drainage.
pH: The optimal soil pH is slightly acidic to neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0.
2. Preparing the Planting Site
Pot Selection: Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from sitting in the soil, which can cause root rot.
Soil Preparation: Fill the pot with the cactus soil mix, leaving enough room to place the cactus.
3. Planting the Lady Finger Cactus
Season: Planting is best done in the spring or early summer when the cactus is actively growing.
Removing from Container: Carefully remove the cactus from its current container, being mindful of the spines. Using gloves or tongs can help protect your hands.
Placement: Place the cactus in the new pot at the same depth it was previously growing.
Backfilling: Fill in around the cactus with the soil mix, gently firming it down to support the plant.
4. Watering
Frequency: Water the Lady Finger Cactus thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Overwatering can lead to root rot.
Method: Water at the base of the plant to avoid getting water on the stems, which can cause rot.
5. Light and Temperature
Indoors: Place the cactus in a south or west-facing window where it can receive bright, indirect sunlight.
Outdoors: If grown outdoors, ensure it is in a location with plenty of sunlight but some protection from the harsh midday sun to prevent scorching.
6. Fertilizing
Type: Use a balanced, water-soluble cactus fertilizer.
Frequency: Fertilize once a month during the growing season (spring and summer). Do not fertilize during the winter when the cactus is dormant.
7. Pest and Disease Management
Pests: Watch for common cactus pests such as mealybugs, spider mites, and scale. Treat infestations with insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Diseases: Root rot is the most common issue, caused by overwatering. Ensure proper watering practices and good drainage to prevent it.
8. Repotting
Frequency: Repot the Lady Finger Cactus every 2-3 years to refresh the soil and accommodate growth.
Timing: Repot in the spring, just before the growing season begins.
9. Propagation
Offsets: The Lady Finger Cactus produces offsets (pups) around the base of the main stems. These can be removed and potted separately to grow new plants.
Method: Allow the offsets to dry for a day or two after removal to callus over, then plant them in a well-draining cactus mix.
Additional Tips
Winter Care: Reduce watering in the winter months when the cactus is dormant. Keep it in a cooler location but protect it from frost.
Handling: Be careful when handling the Lady Finger Cactus due to its spines. Using gloves or tools can help prevent injury.
With proper care and attention to its specific needs, the Lady Finger Cactus can be a delightful and low-maintenance addition to your plant collection.

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