Parodia is a genus of cacti that originates from South America. Most notably, the natural habitat of this genus includes Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Uruguay. There are over 70 species of Parodia cacti, however, not all are currently grown in cultivation.
These cacti prefer temperate climates that are not overly humid and areas that don’t experience winter frosts. In colder regions, most of the Parodia species can be grown successfully indoors as long as they get plenty of light.
Parodia cacti don’t require a lot of maintenance and prefer minimal watering in the warmer months and to be left relatively dry over winter. Most of these cacti make attractive specimens and will produce lovely flowers over summer.
Here are some of the most popular and readily available varieties of Parodia cactus that growers love to collect.
This species of Parodia is very round and covered with masses of white spines. At the base of each set of spines (called areoles) is a white woolly growth. This growth is even more prominent on the top of the stem. This low-growing cactus produces lovely yellow flowers at the tip.
Parodia buiningii is a solitary ball cactus with pronounced ribs and short, sharp spines. It grows up to 3 inches tall and up to 5 inches in diameter. The flowers on this cactus are large and showy. They are pale yellow in color with dark yellow centers and red stigma.
Parodia chrysacanthion (Golden Powder Puff)
This cactus is a singular ball shape with multiple spiral ribs. The ribs have yellow spines and each stem has a wooly crown. This specimen can grow up to 8 inches tall and reach a diameter of 4 inches.
The flowers are produced in the center of the stem and are funnel-shaped and a lovely shade of yellow. Each stem can produce multiple flowers at once.
This species of Parodia has a more flattened ball shape. It only grows to about 8 inches tall and around 12 inches in diameter. The stems of this cactus are deeply ridged and these ridges have several outcrops of quite sharp spines. In each outcrop, there are five long spines that lay flat in a radial and two upright spines that are much shorter.
In summer, this cactus produces large yellow flowers that have bright red stigma. Each “ball” typically produces more than one flower.
Parodia leninghausii (Yellow Tower)
This species is a fuzzy-looking cactus thanks to its many long, golden spines that are not sharp. This plant produces stems that start out as being globular but mature to a taller columnar shape.
These columns can grow as tall as 3.3 feet and as wide as 5 inches in diameter. The flowers are produced at the tip of each stem and are pure yellow.
Parodia maasaii is easily distinguishable by its very long, copper spines at the tip. The plant stem exhibits prominent ribs that are an intense green in color. The spines are copper at first but will fade to white as they mature.
This plant produces funnel-shaped flowers that can be either coppery-yellow or orange in color. These flowers will usually appear one by one.
Parodia magnifica (Balloon cactus)
This balloon cactus is a delightful specimen that produces ball-shaped stems with deep ridges in a symmetrical pattern. The outer edges of the ridges have pale yellow bristle-like spines. If given the right conditions, this Parodia will produce multiple offsets from its base and lovely yellow flowers on the tip of each stem.
Parodia mammulosa (Tom Thumb Cactus)
This is another ball-shaped cactus that has sets of sharp spines on each ridge. Each “ball” can grow up to 6 inches in diameter. Typically, this plant has 18 vertical ribs on each stem.
The flowers appear in spring and are quite stunning. They can be either pale pink or golden yellow with reddish stamens. Each stem produces a mass of these lovely blooms.
If you love cactus flowers, then you’re going to adore this specimen. Each stem produces large open daisy-like flowers that range in color from creamy yellow, pink, light lavender to almost red. These flowers can reach a diameter of 2.4 inches.
The stem itself is globular but without the prominent ridges possessed by a lot of other Parodia species. There are ridges, but they’re not as well defined and are hidden by the very sharp spines that protrude from the edges of these. These spines can reach a length of 0.8 inches.
Parodia ottonis (Indian Head Cactus)
This is a clumping cactus with cylindrical stems that can grow up to 6 inches in diameter and height. The deep green to blue-green stems can turn a purplish-red in the winter months. Each stem has pronounced ridges with slender, hair-like spines that can appear twisted.
The flowers are a stunning yellow color with bright red centers. They look very much like paper daisies and are formed in clusters on the top of each stem.
The most striking thing about this cactus is its bright orange-yellow funnel-shaped flowers. Each stem can produce a multitude of these at the tip. The plant itself has cylindrical stems that are deeply ridged. The edges of each ridge are adorned with pale yellow or brown spines.
Parodia rutilans is a ball-shaped singular cactus with non-prominent ridges and brown-tipped white spines. The stems are blue-green in color and the plant produces funnel-shaped flowers that are pink with yellow centers. When the flowers are fully opened they appear almost daisy-like.
This is another clumping cactus that produces round stems with obvious ridges. These ridges have bristle-like spines that can be either straight or curved. Like most cacti, this species produces its flowers in summer.
These flowers are yellow and daisy-like. They’re produced at the top of each stem.
Parodia scopa (Silver Ball Cactus)
Parodia scopa is a ball-shaped cactus that produces masses of pale yellow flowers at the tip of each stem. The flowers have yellow stamens and a bright red stigma. The stem itself has spiral ridges with wooly-looking spines. The spines also grow on the tip of the stem.
When you first see this cactus, it might look like it’s growing white mold at the top or covered in cotton wool. This is because this species has a white wooly growth both at the top and also at the base of the many groups of spines. It’s typically ball-shaped with not very prominent ridges.
The spines are short, mostly black, thick, and quite sharp. Flowers are produced at the top of the “ball” and are tubular in shape. They can be either red or yellowish-orange.
This is a taller growing ball cactus that can reach a height of 20 inches with a diameter of 6 inches. It has sharp ridges that are covered with flexible yellow spines. The flowers appear on the top of the stem and are a lovely silky yellow in color.
This Parodia species has bright pink daisy-like flowers with bright yellow stamens and a deep pink center. The cactus stems can either grow singularly or form small clumps with basal offsets. The ridges are fattish and glossy green with appressed spines.
See other different types of cactus you can plant.