How to Grow and Care for Coryphantha

Coryphantha, commonly known as Beehive Cactus, is a genus of small to middle-sized, globose or columnar cacti. They are native to arid parts of Central America, Mexico, through Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas and north into southwestern, central and southeastern Montana. With its 57 species and 20 subspecies, it is one of the largest genera of cactus. The name "Coryphantha" is from Greek and means "flowering on the top".

Most species where at one time included in the genus Mammillaria, but they differ primarily in that Coryphantha flower from the first year growth at the apex of the plant, while Mammillaria do not flower from new growth and instead flower in rings further down the plant in mostly second-year growth.

In cultivation, this genus is not at all rare, but often plants exist without adequate identification. This is especially problematic because Coryphanthas are quite variable from seedling to mature age plants. Likewise, the presence of a central spine and/or extrafloral nectaries is variable even in mature plants. In this way several plants of the same species may appear quite different based on their age or expressed traits.

Growing Conditions and General Care

If you can grow cacti and succulents successfully, you can likely grow Coryphantha without too much trouble. Coryphantha love to be in a very bright exposure, but generally not to direct light of sun. The risk, especially during the hottest hours of the day and during the summer, is to get sunburned.

The average winter minimum temperature, in general, should not fall below 40°F (5°C), unless individual exceptions. Adult plants (at least 2 years of age) can withstand frosts also very intense, but only if the temperature rises again quickly. To encourage better flowering, allow the plants to enjoy a cooling period in the winter and suspend watering.

Allow the soil mix to become nearly dry between waterings, but then water thoroughly. Immaculate drainage is essential, so never let the pots sit in water. Suspend watering in the winter, but mist occasionally.

This cacti are very susceptible to rot and therefore require a well-drained soil. Use potting mix that is labeled for cacti or succulents.

Coryphantha cactus is slow grower and don't really need much fertilizer. Just a couple of times per year will do. But if you want to fertilize your cactus regularly, do so in spring and summer with a general-purpose fertilizer formulated for use on houseplants. Follow the directions on the packaging.


Repot as needed, preferably during the warm season. To repot Coryphantha, make sure the soil is dry before repotting, then gently remove the pot.


Coryphantha are usually propagated by seed.


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Coryphantha flower

Flower color can be: white, cream, purple, pink, yellow or more than one color, the flowers grow on the top and create like crown, flower in trumpet shape

Coryphantha for sale – Seeds or Plants to Buy

How to grow Coryphantha growing and care:

What is the best way to start growing?
Plant / Seed / Vegetative reproduction

How to propagate:
Daughter plants mostly need to take care when pull it from the ground you take all the roots, take a plastic spatula or something harder depend the soil and uncover the roots, dig around the plant and better to use air blower machine or wash it with stream (but let it dry after)

Cutting – better to take all the cactus and cut it for pieces or else it’s just looks cut in the middle, cut with sterile knife after this let the cut part to stay on the shade to heal it’s might take few weeks and even months, put it on the soil with support (stick or something that won’t fall) cover lightly and lightly from the side and water it small amount of water.

Is it necessary to graft or use vegetative reproduction?

Difficulties or problems when growing:
Spiny plant

Recommended planting season?
Spring / Summer

How to plant:
Main problem it’s the spines get into the skin and it’s hard to get next to cactus, need to relocate the cactus with papers cover enough that the spines won’t get to your hands, to put the soil need to use spoon or small shovel to push and tighten the soil, also possible to do it by hand but don’t squeeze.

Pests and diseases:
Snails, root rot

Pruning season:
All year

How to prune:
Dead stem part and flowers

Size of the plant:
5-20 cm, 2-8 inches

Growth speed in optimal condition:
Slow growing

Water requirement:
Small amount of water, let it dry before watering again

Light conditions in optimal condition for growing:
Full Sun

Is it possible to grow as houseplant?

Growing is also possible in a pot, planter, flowerpot, containers:
Yes, container or clay pot that will be 20-50% bigger (not need deep because the root shallow) for good drainage that important use in the bottom of the container with little rocks like: gravel, lava rocks or pebbles, soil should be cactus potting mix, make holes in the container for good drainage, need to switch the soil after few years, removing the cacti from their pots, take paper and put slowly the plant on the paper, possible to “help” the cactus with the hands better to cover with papers or plastic wrap, after that prepare again the “little rocks” in the bottom, put part of the cactus potting mix, take the plant with and locate it in the new place, if it’s small take the soil mix with spoon and organize it (not to get the spines in hands) if it’s bigger use small garden shovel and squeeze the soil that the cactus will be stable and won’t fall, sometimes when it’s not stable better to add some stick that will hold the cactus.

Blooming information

Bloom season:

General information about the flower
Trumpet shape flower, the flowers grow in crown shape in color that can be: white, cream, purple, pink, yellow or more than one color,

How to grow Coryphantha from seeds

Sowing requirement:
Sow in in half sun or full shade, better sandy soil or well ventilated soil like cactus potting mix and good drainage is important

Saving seeds and care until sowing:
Dry and dark place in room temperature

Sowing season:
Spring but possible in autumn and winter in hot climate, in summer put it in half shade, in hardiness zone 10 spring to summer, hardiness zone 11 spring to autumn, hardiness zone 12 all year

How to plant:
Well drained soil and potting mix or sandy soil

Planting spacing:
10*20cm, (4-8 inches) or for transplanting 2*2cm (1*1 inch)

Depth of Sowing:
0.5cm, (0.25inches)

Conditions for seeds germinate:
Moist soil but do not over water and don’t let it dry

Watering requires for Seeds:
Small amount of water, lightly moist soil and don’t let it dry

Germination time:
2-6 weeks

Condition of seedling:
Half sun or full shade and don’t overwater

Scientific name:

Categories of growing

Light exposure requirements: Full sun Plants

Growing speed of the plant: Slow growing plants

Requirements for watering the plant: Small amounts of water


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Garden Worthy Species


The largest genus of cold-hardy cacti is Echinocereus, commonly known as 'Hedgehog Cactus'. Important ornamental species in the genus include E. triglochidiatus, E. viridiflorus, E. reichenbachii, and E. fendleri. However, there are many other species in the genus that have cold-hardy members as well.

This is one of my favorite genera because of the vast numbers of subspecies and variants that can be found. In fact, there are many collectors who concentrate solely on this huge group.

At High Country Gardens, you can find:

Rainbow Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus rigidissimus) is a stunning Southwestern native barrel cactus renowned for its huge magenta and yellow, early summer flowers and the tight growing pink and white spines. It demands fast draining sandy or rocky soil and a hot, sunny spot in the garden. For gardeners that live in moister areas outside of the Southwestern US, it's better grown as a container plant, planted in glazed, hard-fired pots. Good companion plants include Fame Flowers (Phemeranthus), other cold hardy cacti, and smaller growing Penstemon.

The orange flowered species Echinocereus triglochidiatus (USDA zones 5-10) includes a huge number of subspecies and geographic variants. They range in form from huge 3 foot wide clumps with hundreds of spiny stems to small, nearly spineless types found in the mountains of central New Mexico and the plateaus of western Colorado. Echinoereus triglochidiatus 'White Sands' (USDA zones 5-9) is a similar cactus with red flowers. 'White Sands' has become a favorite of High Country Gardens customers.

Echinocereus reichenbachii v. albispinus

Another of the hedgehogs that is an accommodating garden dweller is Echinocereus reichenbachii (USDA zones 5-10). The showiest forms are clump forming and are found in the rocky hills of south central and western Oklahoma. The tight, attractive, comb-like spines are among the most gardener friendly of the cactus family and vary in color from pure white to pinkish-brown. The masses of pink to magenta flowers are extremely showy. Echinocereus reichenbachii is a fast grower (for a cactus) and blooms at an early age. It is also a ready re-seeder if it likes its spot in the garden.

Echinocereus viridiflorus (Green flowered Hedgehog) is another wide-ranging species native to the short grass prairies and foothills of northeastern New Mexico north through Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and into Wyoming. The yellow-green to green flowers are unique and sometimes lightly fragrant. The spines of plants for selected localities can have very colorful bright red and white spines that contrast beautifully with the green flowers. This species is very cold hardy (USDA zones 4-9), easy to grow, and it is a good choice for higher rainfall areas. Echinocereus fendleri (Fendler’s Hedgehog) is another favorite of mine with its enormous magenta flowers in late spring. The spination of this plant can be quite showy as well. Fendler’s Hedgehog is extremely heat tolerant, but it demands excellent drainage and should be protected from excessive winter moisture.


Two other large genera that are very closely related taxonomically are Escobaria and Coryphantha. Here we find another fascinating array of species.

Escobaria vivipara (USDA zones 4-9) is the widest ranging of all the species. This clustering species is long blooming and adapts readily to cultivation. It is a good starter species if one doesn’t have much experience gardening with cacti.

Because of this species' wide range, we also have a huge number of interesting subspecies to add to our gardening pallet. Some of my favorites include the magenta flower species E. vivipara v. rosea from the mountains of Nevada with its huge purple flower and the small stemmed E. vivipara v. bisbeeana from southeastern AZ with its tight white spines and pale pink flowers.

Another extremely cold-hardy species, Escobaria missouriensis (USDA zones 4-9) originates from the western Great Plains. This species is typically clustering with a profusion of greenish-yellow flowers in late spring. It too is readily adaptable to garden culture and mixes well with other non-succulent prairie wildflowers.


Of the genus Coryphantha, one of my favorites would have to be the little known species from West Texas, Coryphantha echinus (USDA zones 6-10). It is proving to be a durable and reliably cold hardy gem. The white, very symmetrical spination makes a fine backdrop to the glowing yellow and orange centered flowers. C. echinus blooms for a long period in the heat of early summer.

At High Country Gardens, we currently carry Coryphantha sulcata (Pineapple Cactus), a long blooming native of Texas. Coryphantha sulcata grows to form small mounds of rounded stems covered in tight white spines. The plant blooms all summer with showy yellow flowers. Our form is exceptionally cold hardy for the species and likely originates from a northern Texas population.

Echinocactus texensis

Another fascinating species sharing a similar range as Coryphantha echinus is Echinocactus texensis (USDA zones 5-9), commonly known in Texas as Horse Crippler. Unfortunately because of its stout spines, it can puncture a hoof, so ranchers relentlessly rouge this species from pasture land so their livestock won’t step on them. However, as a garden specimen this barrel type species is much more valued. It can grow to a foot or more in diameter. The thick claw-like spines are very ornamental as are the large burnt orange flowers that ring the top of the flat stem. Later in the summer the large showy orange fruit crown the plant.

Ferocactus hamatacanthus

Ferocactus hamatacanthus (USDA zones 6-10) is the most cold hardy of the Ferocactus genus best known for its whopper sized specimens found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. Ferocactus hamatacanthus, however, is from West Texas and is considerably smaller, growing to 15 inches in height and a foot or more in diameter. It has long (often 3 to 4 inches) hooked pink or straw yellow spines and large showy yellow flowers.


The Pediocactus are a small genus of cacti with Pediocactus simpsonii (USDA zones 4-7) and its subspecies Pediocactus simpsonii v. minor being the most widespread. It is a sub-alpine species most often found in the higher altitudes of the many mountain ranges in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and southern Idaho. As one might expect Pediocactus simpsonii is happiest in gardens located above 5,000 ft. in elevation. This species which varies in size from tiny single plants to large clusters of tall stems, doesn’t mind partial shade, especially at lower altitudes. Be aware that it detests humid heat. However, when happily situated in the garden the pink, white, and sometimes yellow flowers are a welcome sight in early spring. (Note that the flower color is variable for this species through its range.) Pediocactus simpsonii often blooms while there is still snow on the ground.


Though the genus Opuntia includes some very difficult to handle species, I do recommend using Opuntia basilaris (USDA zones 5-10) or Beavertail cactus from the Mohave desert. The naked pads are ornamental in their own right, but the double flowered pink or yellow flowers are breathtaking. Place it where it will receive baking heat for best growth and flowering. Give this species some room to spread, as it can grow to cover a 2’ by 2’ wide area. Don’t hesitate to prune it back should it start to overgrow the smaller plants around it.

Reprinted from the March/April issue of The American Gardener with permission of the American Horticulture Society. 7931 E Blvd Dr., Alexandria, VA 22308 or on the web at

Coryphantha Species, Elephant's Tooth, Starry Ball

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Coryphantha (kor-ry-FAN-tha) (Info)
Species: elephantidens (el-ef-FANT-id-enz) (Info)
Synonym:Mammillaria recurvispina
Synonym:Coryphantha recurvispina


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

Allow cut surface to callous over before planting

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Vista, California(9 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Feb 12, 2015, poeciliopsis from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

Central Phoenix -- Coryphantha elephantidens seem to like more sun than many of the small cacti. I have two plants in the ground in shade. The one in dense shade is small, elongate and prostrate. The one in moderate shade is medium and the heads are somewhat elongated. An old potted plant that is seriously pot-bound and grows in light shade, has short, rounded heads. All of these plants receive very little water and get no winter protection. They have never been damaged by freezing, even down into the lower 20s F.

On Dec 31, 2007, thistlesifter from Vista, CA wrote:

Elephantidens is by far the favorite of all Coryphanthas. If there is one cactus that is permissible to grow lush for looks this is the one.

Growing it lush will make the best of clones completely fill all the crevices between its tubercles with thick snowy wool.

Species seems to readily offset and pup through its areoles.

There are many synonyms to this plant that aren't in the list above. Xenomorph has listed them in his description.

On Oct 4, 2004, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

More synonyms are: Coryphantha garessii, Mammillaria retusa, Cactus recurvispinus, Cactus elephantidens & Echinocactus elephantidens.

On Jul 14, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

dark green globular suckering cactus with bright pink to dull pink flowers in later summer to fall. I have had one in the ground 7 years and it has produced lots of little suckers. Very attractive species and spines not a real concern. No idea why it's called elelphan'ts tooth, though.

Watch the video: Cactus seeds after four months of Growing

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