Turbinicarpus valdezianus

Scientific Name

Turbinicarpus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Glass & R.Foster


Pelecyphora valdeziana (basionym), Thelocactus valdezianus

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cacteae
Genus: Turbinicarpus


Turbinicarpus valdezianus is a dwarf globular cactus, up to 2 inches (5 cm) tall and up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) in diameter, with a stem, completely divided into angled tubercles and obscured by dense spines. It has 30 or more distinctive "radial" spines, which are white and feathery. The radial spines spread out horizontally, forming small "umbrellas" on the tips of the tubercles. Unlike some other species, it lacks central spines. The flowers are variable ranging from pinkish-white to bright pink with darker magenta or reddish-brown midveins.


USDA hardiness zone 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Turbinicarpus prefer to be in a well-ventilated position in full sun to maintain a good body color and spinal development.

The golden rule when it comes to watering is "never water when the compost is still damp." This is the one error that will certainly kill any plant! Watering should commence in the spring late March to early April, depending upon the weather conditions at the time. The plants should initially be given a light spray to gently encourage them into growth.

These cacti are all able to withstand high summer temperatures and indeed benefit, providing accompanied by good ventilation. Do not be tempted to overcrowd the plants. They will be far happier with a little space to allow the air to circulate. Winter temperatures can be set as low at 44-46 °F (7-8 °C), and providing the plants are kept dry, and the humidity levels are also kept low by good ventilation on bright days. See more at How to Grow and Care for Turbinicarpus.


Native to Mexico (Coahuila and San Luis Potosí states).


  • Turbinicarpus valdezianus var. albiflorus


  • Back to genus Turbinicarpus
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Turbinicarpus valdezianus - garden

Origin and Habitat: Mexico (This cactus occurs in Mexico from Saltillo, in Coahuila state southwards nearly to Matehuala in San Luis Potosí in an area of 40,000 km². It is estimated that there are less than 10,000 plants.)
Altitude range: It grows at altitudes ranging from 1,400 to 1,600 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology: This cactus grows in typical Chihuahuan Desert vegetation among calcareous rocks. The major threats for this species are illegal collecting and human activities. The northernmost subpopulations near Saltillo are affected by the construction of an airport and the expanding chicken farms. Large numbers of plants have been and continue to be removed by collectors at known sites.

  • Turbinicarpus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Glass & R.A.Foster
    • Echinocactus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Boed.
    • Gymnocactus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Backeb.
    • Mammillaria valdeziana (H.Moeller) H.P.Kelsey & Dayton
    • Neolloydia valdeziana (H.Moeller) E.F.Anderson
    • Pediocactus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Halda
    • Pelecyphora plumosa Boed. & F.Ritter
    • Pelecyphora valdeziana H.Moeller in Möller
    • Pseudosolisia valdeziana (H.Moeller) Y.Itô
    • Thelocactus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Borg

Description: Turbinicarpus valdezianus is one the smallest and slowest growing Turbinicarpus with tiny feathery spines that obscure the body of the plant, it is usually solitary but sometime form clusters of few branches.
Stem: Young plants are spherical, then cylindrical with a narrower base and short spirally arranged tubercles, the apex is completely covered by the plumose spination. Typically half of it is underground with a big tap root. The plants are about 3-5 cm high and 1-2 cm in diameter.
Spines: Turbinicarpus valdezianus is a pectinate-spines species, but the the pectinate spines are not in the two neat rows as in Turbinicarpus pseudopectinatus, the ca. 25-30 spines, are dense, feathery and white, about 0.5 mm long, spreading flat around the areoles.
Flowers: One to 5 diurnal, at plant apex. This species is found scattered in small populations in several locations and the colour of the flowers is variable ranging from pinkish-white to bright pink with darker magenta or reddish-brown midveins.
Blooming season (in habitat): T. valdezianus is an early bloomer (February - March).

Subspecies, varieties, forms and cultivars of plants belonging to the Turbinicarpus valdezianus group

Bibliography: Major references and further lectures
1) James Cullen, Sabina G. Knees, H. Suzanne Cubey “The European Garden Flora Flowering Plants: A Manual for the Identification of Plants Cultivated in Europe, Both Out-of-Doors and Under Glass” Cambridge University Press, 11/Aug./2011
2) David Hunt, Nigel Taylor “The New Cactus Lexicon” DH Books, 2006
3) Edward F. Anderson “The Cactus Family” Timber Press, 2001
4) Fitz Maurice, W.A. & Fitz Maurice, B 2013. Turbinicarpus valdezianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 20 August 2014.

Turbinicarpus valdezianus Photo by: Peiffer Clement
Turbinicarpus valdezianus Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Saltillo Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Turbinicarpus valdezianus Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Turbinicarpus valdezianus Monclova Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
Turbinicarpus valdezianus Photo by: Julio C. García
Turbinicarpus valdezianus Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli
17 year old specimen (grafted on Trichocereus) Photo by: Valentino Vallicelli

Cultivation and Propagation: Turbinicarpus valdezianus is not particularly difficult on own roots, but very slow growing.
Soils: It likes very porous standard neutral or slightly alkaline cactus mix soil.
Repotting: Use pot with good drainage.
Watering: It should be watered during the growing season, but waterings should be rather infrequent to keep the plant compact, and avoid it will become excessively elongated and unnatural in appearance. Keep dry in winter or when night temperatures remain below 10° C. Water it less than average if in bigger pots, small pots preferred. Furthermore it has a tap root, and watering it properly is often difficult, because it tends to crack open or rot if over-watered. Careful watering away from the body of the plant will allow the areoles to keep their wool.
Fertilization: Feed with a high potassium fertilizer in summer.
Hardiness: It is hardy to -4°C for a short period if kept on the dry side prior to, and during, cold weather. However warmth throughout the year will increase the grower's success (8-12°C during rest season). Assure a good ventilation.
Exposition: Outside bright, hot conditions or afternoon shade, inside it needs bright light, and some direct sun. Strong light keep the plant compact and low and encourages flowering and heavy wool and spine production.
Uses: It is an excellent plant for container growing. It always looks good and stays small.
Pests & diseases: It may be attractive to a variety of insects, but plants in good condition should be nearly pest-free, particularly if they are grown in a mineral potting-mix, with good exposure and ventilation. Nonetheless, there are several pests to watch for:
- Red spiders: Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by watering the plants from above.
- Mealy bugs: Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new growth among the wool with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
- Scales: Scales are rarely a problem.
- Rot: Rot is only a minor problem with cacti if the plants are watered and “aired” correctly. If they are not, fungicides won't help all that much.
Propagation: From seed, since the plant rarely produces plantlets, or grafted. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days at 21-27° C in spring, remove the glass cover gradually as the plants develops and keep ventilated, no full sun for young plants!

Name Status Confi­dence level Source Date supplied
Pelecyphora valdeziana Møller Synonym TRO 2012-04-18
Thelocactus valdezianus (H.Moeller) Borg Unresolved TRO 2012-04-18

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Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Turbinicarpus (tur-bin-ih-KAR-pus) (Info)
Species: valdezianus (val-dez-ee-AH-nus) (Info)
Synonym:Echinocactus valdezianus
Synonym:Gymnocactus valdezianus
Synonym:Normanbokea valdeziana
Synonym:Mammillaria valdeziana
Synonym:Thelocactus valdezianus


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




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


Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds


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

Gardeners' Notes:

On Aug 18, 2008, CactusJordi from El Cajon, CA wrote:

There is also an absolutely white flowering form. Will take photo next spring.

On Aug 29, 2005, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

very small cactus (rarely over 2" tall) with harmless flattened white spines. Very showy hot pink-magenta to reddish flowers in late spring/early summer. Prone to rot if overwatered.

Watch the video: Turbinicarpus valdezianus

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