This article was last updated by on

14 Tips for Pincushion Cactus Care

Worried about how to care for your newly bought Pincushion Cactus? Well, you can stop worrying now, as you have landed in the right place.

Let me make sure you have added a cute and spiny plant friend to your list.

You will be alright in taking care of your new friend as it is easy-going and low maintenance.

The pincushion cactus is one of the attractive cacti with nipple-shaped tubercles arranged in the Fibonacci sequence.

The care of a pincushion cactus is simple: water once a week while maintaining a temperature of 10°C to 24°C, at least 3-4 hours of direct sunlight, and a small amount of feed over the summer season is all it needs to grow. To assist Pincushion to thrive, try pruning and repotting it at least once every 2-3 years.

Blooming Pincushion Cactus in the desert (Source: Pixabay)

Healthy Pinchusion gives beautiful flowers and many babies. The tiny blooms create a soothing environment inside your home.

Moreover, tiny babies produced help you to increase your collection of Pincushion.

Caring Pincushion is an easy job. Go on with the article to completely understand how to properly care for your tiny friend and become a perfect owner of a thriving cactus.

Does Pincushion Cactus Need a Lot of Looking After?

NOT! Pincushions are very easy plants to handle. You will love them.

Pincushions belong to the cactus family; they are well adapted to thrive in arid climates, i.e., hot, limited water, and low feed conditions.

So neglecting Pincushion for a relatively long period, then you would do for other plants, would be completely fine.

However, don’t forget your friend. Well, caring time and again will surely make it live healthily and give you lots of blooms and babies, making your indoor look better.

Moreover, caring for Pinchusions should be adjusted according to the season. Please read the article to know in detail about the tips on caring for your Pincushion cactus.

14 Best Tips for Pincushion Cactus Care

Let’s take a quick look at the summary before we go into the details.

Tips for caring Pincushion CactusIdeal condition
WateringHot and dry season- at least once a fortnight
Humid and cold season- Cease watering
Temperature10°C to 24°C (50°F to 75.2°F)
Humidity 40-50% Relative Humidity
Soil MixWell draining with coarse sand and pumice.
Use cactus soil mix.
FertilizerSlow release fertilizers
SunlightBright sunlight for 3-4 hours in a day
PotShallow ceramic or plastic pots with 1-3 drainage holes
BloomSpring season. Surrounding the top of plant like a crown.
PestsMealybugs, Fungal gnats, spider mites, and scales.
DiseaseRoot Rot
PropagationWith offsets or tiny babies that grow on the side of main cacti. OR with seeds.
RepottingWhen the pot is full or roots come out from drainage holes.
GroomingCut the diseased part as soon as seen.
ToxicityNot toxic
USDA Zones8 to 10

1. Adequate Watering

Cactus thrives in the arid climate; hence watering a lot is unnecessary even if the soil seems dried out.

Also, the body of the cactus plant can retain a lot of water, so even sprinkles of water are sufficient to quench its thirst.

This character of cactus also makes them the best project for new gardeners as you will not be punished even if you forget your plant for a few days.

Moreover, overwatering of Pincushion cactus can cause rotting, which may be detrimental as well.

Furthermore, it would help if you always took care of the season while watering the Pincushion Cactus.

For example, watering during the winter season is unnecessary as the plant is not growing and low temperature.

You should water the cactus during the growing and blooming seasons, i.e., summer season, to dampen the soil completely.

Generally, cacti do not need watering during cold and humid climates if the pot is placed outdoors and away from Air conditioners and heaters.

Watering the Plants
Watering the Plants (Source:

Tips for Proper Watering

  • You can water the Pincushion once in a or two weeks. Watering more than once a week is mostly never necessary.
  • Moreover, water the cacti to make the soil moist, not wet. Finally, you can water the plant thoroughly and let excess water runoff from the drainage hole.
  • Also, don’t forget to empty the drip tray as Pincushion should never stand on water.
  • Always use well-aerated soil mix for cactus, as well as a pot with enough drainage holes to prevent soggy conditions.
  • Do not place the pot in the kitchen or the bathroom, as they naturally are more humid, and you may be prone to overwatering your plant.
  • Check the soil before watering the Pincushion.
  • Wait till the potting mix is completely dry before watering again.

2. Ideal Temperature

As Pincushion cacti are desert plants, they can grow and survive in high temperatures. However, cold temperatures are the deal breakers for them.

But still, these cactus can survive a wide range of temperatures.

Moreover, the ideal temperature for thriving Pincushion cactus is between 10°C to 24°C (50°F to 75.2°F).

Tips for Maintaining Optimum Temperature

  • You can use Air conditioners during the summer season and heaters during the winter season to maintain the temperature as required.
  • Try keeping the Pincushion indoor in very cold seasons.
  • Pincushion cactus plants should not be grown in areas with high moisture levels, such as kitchens and bathrooms.

3. Humidity Requirement

As Pincushion Cactus is a desert plant, it requires less humid conditions to thrive. Therefore, the ideal relative humidity for the survival of Pincushion Cactus is 40-50%.

Moreover, Pincushion can live in lower humid conditions for some time; however, high humidity is a deal-breaker for cactus.

Higher humid conditions make the cacti prone to diseases like root rot, as it is very easy to overwater your cactus when the humidity is high.

Mold on the plant’s stem and evidence of stem rot are some of the most prevalent signs of high humidity.

Tips for Maintaining Optimum Humidity

  • Do not place your plant in the kitchen, bathroom, or near a humidifier.
  • Occasional misting would be good for your cactus.
  • Before deciding where to put your plant, use a hygrometer to check the relative humidity in different areas of your home.

4. Proper Soil Mix

The quality of soil mix is the most important factor for Pincushion cactus care.

You should make sure that the soil mix used in the pot has the following properties to make it ideal for Pincushion cactus:

Soil PropertiesImportance
Well AeratedFor the undisturbed growth of the roots of cacti.
Constitute Organic matter Provide the required feed for the cacti.
Well DrainingTo prevent water logging condition which can be detrimental to the health of the cacti.
Soil pHSoil pH controls plant nutrition availability by influencing the chemical forms of the various nutrients, and their chemical interactions.

You can make your soil mix at home for your Pincushion. The cactus soil mix mainly contains ingredients like;

  • Three parts regular garden soil
  • Three parts sand
  • Two parts perlite, gravel, grit, or crushed granite

Making the mix with the right ingredients in the right amounts is necessary to achieve desired compactness, aeration, and drainage.

Here are some recommendations for a Soil mix that you can find on Amazon.

Potting Mix for Cactus
Potting Mix for Cactus (Source: Amazon)

Note: Best cactus soil mix should have 40 – 50% organic matter in 50 – 60% inorganic matter to balance nutrient and good drainage.

5. Slow Release Fertilizer

As cactus is used to survive in the desert, it requires very little fertilizer to live. However, it may sometimes need to be fed to grow and bloom to its full potential.

Moreover, including more organic matter in the soil mix while repotting also fulfills the need for feed to some extend.

Organic matter works as the slow-release fertilizer as it decomposes.

Tips for Proper Fertilization

  • Add slow-release fertilizers while repotting.
  • Do not add fertilizers during winter. Instead, add them during the active growing period, i.e., the summer season.
  • As fertilizing is not much necessary, use fertilizer in very small amounts.
  • You can add the feed every two weeks interval during the growing period.
  • Also, use fertilizer regularly while the plant is still young.

Some best fertilizers to use for the Pincushion Cactus are:

Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food1. Feed ratio : 0.5-1-1
2. As it has low N-P-K ratio, it has lower burning effect on the leaves even if it is spilled.
Succulent Fertilizer1. Liquid Fertilizer.
2. It can be easily diluted by adding water to use in low concentration.
Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Spikes1. Slow- release fertilizer.
2. You can simply push the spikes inside soil and they release nutrients slowly.
Succulents & Cactus Plant Food1. Slow release fertilizer and granular in formulation.
2. Release fertilizer every time you water your plant.

6. Bright Sunlight

As desert receives plenty of sunlight, cactus also love full sunlight throughout the year.

Therefore, while having them indoors as well, don’t forget to provide them with enough Sun.

Keeping the Pincushion cactus deprived of the Sun can cause it to change its color from green to yellow. This is due to wilting because of lack of enough sunlight.

You can place your Pincushion as much in the Sun as you want and you need not worry about overheating it.

Tips for Providing Proper Sunlight and Location

  • Place your Pincushion cactus near the south-facing window to provide it with enough sunlight.
  • You can also place the pot outside in the Sun for at least 3-4 hours a day to compensate for not getting Sun indoor.
  • Place the cactus in the Sun if it looks pale.
  • Hang the growth light if you place the plant in the darkroom.
  • Depending on how dark the space is, use the plant lights for at least 12 hours but no more than 16 hours every day.
Grow Light LED for Cactus
Grow Light LED for Cactus (Source: Amazon)

7. Correct Pot for Pincushion Cactus

Selecting a perfect pot for your Pincushion cactus is very easy.

However, bad pots create an unfavorable environment for the cacti and can hamper the growth and health of your beloved plant.

Correct size, material, and drainage holes are the most important features to look after while selecting a pot for Pincushion cactus.

Cactus plants don’t normally require large containers. However, if you pick a small container, the roots will be constrained, leaving no area for the soil.

If you pick a large container, on the other hand, you will almost certainly overwater the plant. As a result, picking the correct size for the cactus is critical.

Pincushion Cactus in a Glazed Ceramic Pot
Pincushion Cactus in a Glazed Ceramic Pot (Source: Amazon)

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pot

  • The optimal pot size has a 14-inch gap between the cactus’ main body and the pot’s rim.
  • Check the cactus’ width and select a pot that is just 10% wider than the plant. For example, if a plant’s width is 3 inches, choose a just 3.5 inches wide container.
  • As cactus have shallow roots, do not select a deep pot as such pots will hold more water and cause root rot.
  • Instead, you can look at the length of the roots while potting and select a pot that holds the roots with a little extra space.
  • Always select a pot with 1-3 drainage holes; they help to remove excess water. You can drill a hole in the pot if the container doesn’t have it already.
  • Ceramic terracotta and glazed ceramic are the best pots for the Pincushion cactus. You can also use plastic containers instead.
  • However, you should not use glass and metal pots as glass containers are unlikely to have drainage holes, and metallic pots get rust which is harmful to cacti health.

8. Blooming Habits

Pincushion Cactus will treat you with beautiful flowers in the spring season if provided with the required conditions of Pincushion cactus care.

The flowers of Pincushion cactus are funnel-shaped with a wide color range, red, yellow, pink, white, and greenish. Moreover, the flowers develop in the crown region of the plant.

However, as easy as Pincushion cactus to grow, it is hard to bloom. Therefore, it needs special care throughout the year to make it bloom.

The hard work done while taking care will be paid off with attractive flowers during the active growing period.

Pincushion cactus blooms for the first time after the first summer rain and lasts for about a week. Moreover, it may again bloom several times following the rain.

Flowers of Pincushion mature to give small edible fruits. These fruits, if found in the desert, are a  very good source of water.

Beautiful Blooms in Pincushion Cactus
Beautiful Blooms in Pincushion Cactus (Source: Pixino)

Tips to Make your Pincushion Bloom

  • Provide enough light. Indoor-grown Pincushion may never bloom since they can’t get full sunlight throughout the year.
  • Add a small amount of liquid fertilizer every two weeks throughout the spring and summer seasons.
  • Since only mature Pincushion blooms, you should wait patiently till it matures. But sadly, you never know when your cacti will be ready to bloom.

Instead of waiting for many many years, you can directly buy a mature Pincushion with a bloom. After this, proper care for year-long will give you beautiful blooms each year.

9. Control Insects and Pests

Generally, Pincushion cactus don’t home pests, but sometimes it might get infected.

Pests can only infest a plant if it is weak, so if your cacti are suffering pest infestation, don’t forget to treat the plant’s health along with the pests.

Commonly, the Pincushion cactus is infested by spider mites, fungal gnats, scale insects, and mealybugs.

Pest infestation in indoor plants is due to the entry of pests inside the home and new plants.

Name of PestsSymptoms
Mealy BugsFallen needles.
White secretion on plant body.
Tiny dots on the body of cacti.
Spider mitesSpidery web around the cactus.
Small brown spots.
Fungus GnatsSmall black flies roaming around plant.
Scale InsectsPlant covered with Clusters of flat, circular, gray bumps.
Yellow or brown spots on cactus body.


  • You can also manually remove the pest at the initial level by picking and wiping it off.
  • Spray neem oil if the infestation is high.
  • Always check and quarantine the plants before bringing them home.
  • Use clean and pest-free soil or potting mix.
  • You can treat Spider mites and mealybugs with a strong spray of water as well. But don’t forget to cover the soil to prevent overwatering.
  • You can also use a yellow sticky trap to control the fungus gnats if they infest the plant heavily.

10. Root Rot in Pincushion Cactus

Pincushion Cactus are hardy plants and are very less infected by diseases. However, it may sometimes be affected by fungal and bacterial rot.

Rotting may be caused in any plant part, but root rot is the most common in the Pincushion cactus.

The symptoms are black spots around the base of cacti and mushy flesh.

Solutions for Root Rot

To revive the Pincushion cactus already infected by root rot, you can follow the following steps:

  • At first, stop watering the plant and carefully remove the cacti from the pot. Don’t forget to wear gloves to prevent wounds from pricking by the thorns.
  • Then, carefully remove all the soil from the root ball and expose the root to see the affected roots.
  • Now with the help of scissors or pruners, trim the roots that are black, brown, or mushy.
  • Dust the remaining roots with sulfur and keep the cacti with its roots exposed to air for 1-4 days till a scab is formed on the cut parts.
  • Finally, fill a new pot with fresh potting mix and plant your cacti.

However, if all the roots are infected, it isn’t easy to revive the same plant. So, discard the plant and potting mix and plant a new healthy cactus instead.

Preventive Measures

  • Do not overwater the plant.
  • Do not place the plant in very humid conditions.
  • Maintain proper drainage.
  • Add a layer of small pebbles to the bottom of the container.
  • Replace the plant after treating the soil if the plant gets infected.

Also watch,

11. Propagation of Pincushion cactus

Pincushion Cactus can be easily propagated by seeds and offsets (babies around the main plant).

1. Propagation Through Offset Division

After the Pincushion cactus has matured, it produces many baby cactus around it in clusters called offsets.

To propagate, you should follow the following steps:

Step 1: At first, wear thick gloves. Wearing gloves prevents the pricking of your hands by the thorns of the cactus.

Step 2: Now, Separate the offsets by cutting with a sharp and sterilized knife or by pulling them off.

Step 3: Keep the separated offsets in a shady and open space so that the wound will develop a callus.

Step 4: Now, you can plant the baby cactus in a separate pot.

2. Propagation Through Seeds

A matured Pincushion cactus produces small fruit during the spring and summer seasons following the bloom.

You can collect the seeds from fruits, and the following steps are performed to propagate:

Step 1: First, plant the seeds on a flatbed during the spring season.

Step 2: Then, cover the upper layer with sand.

Step 3: Proper watering, sunlight, and temperature are crucial for the germination of the seeds.

Hence, Keep the temperature not less than 21°C (69.8°F) with full sunlight. Moreover, water should be applied to make sure seeds don’t dry.

Step 4: Transplant the cactus to a new pot after they have gained a considerable size.

You may also want to read about Step by Step guidelines to Propagate Orchid Cactus.

Also watch,

12. Repotting Pincushion Cactus

Repotting of the cactus is very necessary to make it long live. It means transferring the plant from an old pot to a larger pot.

Before starting the process, the soil on the container should be let dry completely.

Guide for Repotting Pincushion Cactus

Step 1: At first, Select a slightly larger pot, i.e., an inch or two in diameter, than the older one.

Step 2: Now, place a layer of porous material like a coffee filter to cover the drainage hole and prevent soil leakage while filling.

Step 3: Then, fill the pot with some fresh potting mix.

Step 4: After that, remove the cacti carefully from their old pot. You can loosen up the soil with a gardening tool or a blunt knife to take the cacti out of the pot.

Step 5: Untangle the tangled roots and cut off excess roots or root balls.

Step 6: Now, plant the cacti in the new container.

Step 7: Finally, water your plant and place it in a place with bright sunlight.

Repotting a root-bound cactus (Source: Pexels)

Best Tips While Repotting your Cactus

  • It would be best if you repotted the cactus to a larger pot when your Pincushion seems bigger than the pot.
  • Also, repot when the cactus roots start to be seen from the drainage hole on the bottom.
  • You should repot when the pot gets filled with a larger number of smaller baby cactus.
  • Do not select too big pots while repotting as bigger pots store more water which may cause rotting disease in Pincushion cactus.
  • Always use good quality pots, soil mix, feed, etc., while repotting.
  • Every couple of years, you can freshen the soil mix as it gets depleted and salts get accumulated due to watering.

13. Grooming Pincushion Cactus

Much grooming is not necessary for Pincushion cactus.

However, it would be best if you always kept an eagle’s eye for the rotting symptoms as it is best to remove these disease symptoms to keep the plant alive.

Some Tips for Grooming Pincushion cactus

  • Cut the part with rotting symptoms as soon as you notice.
  • Separate and repot the overcrowded cluster.
  • You can also remove the thorns of the cacti if you want them to be safe near pets and children as well.

14. Toxicity of the Pincushion Cactus

Pincushion cactus is not toxic to humans and animals. However, pricking by the thorns can cause deep and painful wounds.

Hence, if you have children and pets, it is wise to keep your cacti friend away on a high shelf where children and pets cannot reach.

Instead, you may remove the thorns of the cacti completely to make it safe.

Beautiful Pincushion Cactus
Beautiful Pincushion Cactus (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Pincushion Cactus are vibrant to be incorporated in your indoors. They are easy to grow and need minimum attention, which can make them your best plant friend.

As they are small in size, a pot of Pincushion cactus fits best even in small spaces and shelves.

Moreover, they are not known to be poisonous to pets. However, due to the presence of spines, it is better to keep the pets away.

Speaking of its spines, it may be the best tip while handling a cactus, to always keep thick gloves handy to prevent pricking on your hands.

Given these Pincushion cactus care tips, you will be a perfect owner of it for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like