Gymnocalycium: Why you have to have one (And how to care for it)

A remarkable trend has been sweeping across social media, captivating many plant collectors. At the forefront of this trend stands the Gymnocalycium, a genus of cacti that seems to grab the attention of every enthusiast that sees one. In this blog post, we delve into the world of Gymnocalycium cacti, uncovering the reasons behind their surging popularity, and explaining how to care for them.

Unveiling the Gymnocalycium Cactus

Gymnocalycium, commonly referred to as “chin” cactus, hails from the deserts of South America, particularly Argentina. Being native to arid regions, these plants have earned their reputation as hardy and drought-tolerant. This characteristic makes them a perfect choice for collectors seeking low-maintenance, yet still captivating plants.

There is another reason this family of cacti is so popular, though. Their aesthetic diversity is unmatched in the plant world, with a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours. From brightly coloured variegation to undulating waves of crested stem mutations, there is no lack of choice for any enthusiast’s taste. Each species is unique in its own way. Gymnocalycium mihanovichii, Gymnocalycium damsii, and Gymnocalycium horstii all have different shades of colour. Crested specimens are also slowly trickling into collections, such as Gymnocalycium anisitsii and Gymnocalycium baldianum. Lastly, all of the species mentioned above produce exceptionally beautiful flowers.

Gymnocalycium mihanovichii f. variegata
Gymnocalycium damsii f. variegata
Gymnocalycium horstii f. variegata
Gymnocalycium anisitsii f. cristata
Gymnocalycium baldianum f. cristata

Caring for Gymnocalycium

While these cacti are known for their hardiness, they do require some specific conditions to thrive.

  • Light: Provide them with ample sunlight, preferably in a location with partial sun or 40% shade cloth. Do not keep them in shade.
  • Soil: Use a well-draining soil medium to prevent root rot. Their roots need to breathe, so use plenty of gritty components like Ibaraki Akama, Hyuga Pumice and perlite.
  • Watering: Only water in spring and summer. Allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
  • Growing season: Like most cacti, these are spring and summer growers that prefer warm temperatures. They can withstand cooler conditions as well, but should be protected from frost during the winter months.
  • Fertilization: Feed with a diluted balanced fertilizer during the growing season (spring and summer) to support healthy growth. You can also add small amounts of slow release fertilizer to the soil.
  • Pot size: You should use a pot that is only 2-3cm bigger than the plant’s main stem. Using a pot that is too large will allow too much water to stay in the soil around the roots.

Add a Gymnocalycium to your collection

Living Desert Plants has a variety of Gymnocalycium for sale. Visit the cactus shop category on our website to view our selection.


The enchanting allure of these cacti has truly taken world by storm, captivating the hearts of plant enthusiasts and sparking a growing plant collecting trend. From their unique appearance and drought tolerance to their compact size and collectible nature, these cacti embody the perfect blend of practicality and aesthetic beauty. As everyone continues to embrace these captivating plants, the Gymnocalycium trend shows no signs of slowing down. What new beauty will pop up next?

- Santa B

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