Top 12 Types of Frailea Cactus You Can Grow

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Frailea is a genus of cactus varieties that are small-growing and ideal for growing in pots indoors because they don’t take up much space and are fairly easy to care for.

These interesting little cacti only reach a height of around 2 inches and their maximum width is also around 2 inches. With the different stem colors ranging from green to chocolate, they are ideal for planting together in a shallow pot to create an interesting display.

Make sure that the pot or container that you plant your Frailea cactus in has plenty of drainage holes because these plants should never be allowed to sit in water. You should only water your cacti once the soil has dried out.

One of the most interesting features of these plants is that if there is a lack of water, they will retract into the soil. Then, once you water them, they’ll pop back out again and be all plump and lovely.

There are numerous Frailea varieties in this genus but only some of these are recognized and available in cultivation. 

Here are just 12 varieties that you can seek out and add to your collection. 

Frailea angelesii

This lovely cactus has a dome-shaped stem that is heavily ribbed with round, tapered tubercles. Each tubercle has an areole with thin spines that are ginger-colored. The stem is shiny and either dark purple or dark brown. 

The flowers are larger than the plant itself, tubular and yellow in color. The individual petals can have bright orange tips. However, you might find that the flowers don’t open completely unless the plant is in full sun in the heat of the day. This does not prevent the fruit and seed capsules from forming because all the flowers in Frailea cacti are cleistogamous which means that they can produce fruit and seeds without opening. 

Make sure that you gather the seeds from the fragile capsules because these will germinate readily and will allow you to propagate more plants easily.

Frailea asterioides

This interesting cactus also goes by the name of Frailea castanea. It has a flattened, globose stem that is chocolate brown or dark red in color. The stem has multiple ribbed sections. Each ribbed section has a row of wooly areoles with short spines.

Flowers on this cactus are generally larger than the plant itself and sulfur yellow in color. The ensuing seed capsules break open easily revealing several large seeds that can easily be propagated.

Frailea buenekeri

This is a tiny cactus that only grows to a height of around ¾ of an inch. Each stem has a spherical or columnar shape and is olive-green to brown in color. Wooly areoles cover the tiny ribs and small white spines grow from these.

The yellow flower is larger than the plant itself. Sometimes the yellow petals can have reddish midveins. The fuzzy fruits are reddish-brown and contain lots of seeds. 

Frailea cataphracta

This fascinating cactus has a stem that is a very small depressed mound that is often dull-green or dark brown to purplish in color. Each cactus has around 10 to 15 ribs and these have crescent-shaped tubercles. Each tubercle has a wooly areole with a number of short spines.

The flowers are huge compared to the plant itself, and a lovely yellow color with an apricot center. The fragile fruit capsules contain surprisingly large seeds.

Frailea chiquitana

This lovely little cactus has a spherical or cylindrical stem that appears to be covered in tiny bumps. However, these bumps are tubercles on each rib of the individual stem. They seem to be arranged quite symmetrically giving the cactus a unique appearance. The stem itself is either yellow-green or purple. Short spines grow from the areoles in each tubercle.

The flowers are large and yellow and they are not cleistogamous. This means that they have to open to produce fruits and seeds. 

Frailea curvispina

The first thing you’ll notice when looking at this tiny cactus is the many golden or pure white spines that seem to cover the entire surface of the stem. These spines curve downward which is probably why it has the name “curvispina”. 

The stem is an olive-green color. It’s ribbed with quite accentuated tubercles from which the spines grow. This particular species is believed to be clumping when grown in cultivation with small offsets growing from the base of the main stem.

Frailea gracillima

This species of Frailea seems to be quite rare but it’s definitely worth hunting for. The stems on this cactus are cylindrical rather than flattened and covered with many short spines. In fact, the spines are so profuse that they seem to hide the stem underneath.

The cylindrical stem is green in color and ribbed. The flowers are pale yellow and tubular but open to almost resembling daisies. 

Frailea mammifera

This is another tiny cactus that has the loveliest symmetrical shape and look. The cylindrical green stem has around 17 ribs. On these ribs are evenly spaced areoles that have short golden spines growing from them.

The flowers are yellow and often larger than the stem. There are also a couple of sub-species with the most notable one being Frailea mammifera subsp. angelesiae. The most notable difference in this sub-species is that the stem is chocolate brown instead of green and the spines are also brown instead of golden.

Frailea perumbilicata

This is a very small, solitary cactus with a flattened, globular stem. Often, the stem is wider than it is tall. It has distinct tubercles that look like bumps on the surface of the stem. Short spines grow from the center of each of these.

The flowers are yellow and cleistogamous. These only tend to open when the plant is growing in hot sunny conditions. Nevertheless, they still produce fruiting capsules and multiple seeds.

Frailea phaeodisca

This is one of the most attractive species in the Frailea genus. The simple, disk-shaped stem is flattened and globular. It’s pale to dark gray-green in color and some are even dark brown. The ribs on the stems are completely flat with flattened tubercles that have dark areoles that look like a short, vertical line. Many short spines grow from these areoles.

The flowers are large and yellow. 

Frailea pumila

This is one of the largest Frailea species. It can reach a diameter of around 2 inches. The deep green stem is sub-globular and flattened. It has distinct but flat ribs with small areoles that bear yellowish-brown spines.

The flowers are yellow and these produce green fruits that develop small, brown seeds.

Frailea schilinzkyana

This is quite a small cactus with a round and flattened stem. Generally, the stem is wider than it is tall. It’s green or brown in color. The ribs are fairly flat with quite distinct tubercles that look like small bumps on the surface of the stem.

Each tubercle has areoles with brown spines. The flowers are yellow and smaller than on other species. These flowers are cleistogamous but they still produce fruits that develop many seeds.

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