May Succulent – Notocactus magnificus

May Succulent – Notocactus magnificus

With it’s nice, round shape and spines that run up vertical ridges it’s not surprising that Notocactus magnificus has gotten nicknamed the “Balloon Cactus”.  This South American Cactus grows in between rocks and in the shade of larger growing plants in the hilly grasslands of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. It’s one of the more frost resistant cacti, as the weather can get just above freezing in it’s natural habitat without doing harm to the plants.  This cactus enjoy warmth and sunlight and will do well in a sunny window with high drainage soil. If the weather gets very hot in summer, you may want to move this cactus away from the window to avoid sunburn.   If you place your cactus outside, remember to bring it in if there is an extended frost, as it’s only frost resilient for brief periods.


In the partially cloudy parts of the Pacific Northwest, your Balloon Cactus will be happiest in a window where it gets lots of light.  However, fi you’re in a more sunny climate or if the weather gets very hot, it’s probably best to put your cactus where it can get some afternoon shade to avoid sunburn. Remember to transition into direct light slowly to avoid sun-burning your plant. Don’t get enough light in your home? Grow lights have become more compact and easier to use than ever.


During the summer water when the soil has completely dried out – about once a week . In the winter watering can be stretched out to every few weeks. Good drainage is essential to the happiness of succulents and cacti. Planting in a small well-draining container with cactus mix or a moderately dry blend of potting soil and sand will help you avoid over watering. If you have a pot with a hole and a dish under it make sure to empty water from the dish afterwards.


Balloon Cacti can be fertilized during growing season by adding an organic fertilizer to your weekly watering. They do not require fertilizer during it’s dormant season.

Long Term Care

Once it’s established, Balloon Cactus are extremely easy to keep happy, and they will continue to thrive as long as you keep them warm and dry. Fertilizing the soil can help you can go many years without having to repot them.  They will eventually pup, becoming a clump of cacti.  They also bloom up to twice a year with bright lemon-yellow flowers.

Pet info

Balloon Cactus are not toxic for your pets – although they may poke!

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