Gymnocalycium Baldianum Care: Growing Dwarf Chin Cactus

There are a lot of wonderful plants in the Cactaceae family, and Gymnocalycium baldianum (jim-no-kal-LISS-ee-um bald-ee-AH-num) is one of the smaller varieties to grace our homes.

This perennial native of the Catamarca Province in Argentina is better known by the common name of dwarf chin cactus or spider-cactus, depending on where you’re located.

Gymnocalycium baldianum cactus in bloom
Flowers of the Dwarf Chin Cactus (Gymnocalycium baldianum) | Radu Razvan-Adobe

It may be a little hard to find this plant using the scientific name, as it is also sometimes known by the synonym name includes:

  • Echinocactus baldianus
  • Echinocactus sanguiniflorus
  • Gymnocalycium platense var. baldianum

Gymnocalycium Baldianum Care

Size & Growth

Dwarf chin is an apt description of this small cactus, whose bulb-shaped body is semi flattened and measures a mere 3 to 4” inches tall and 3 to 5” inches across.

9 to 11 broad ribs span the greyish brown to blue-green plant, each with 5 to 7 light gray radial spines emerging from deep-set aerioles.

Its main growing season is from mid to late spring into early summer.

It produces magenta, orange, purple-red, or white flowers that are about 1.5 inches or 4 to 6 cm in diameter. This plant flowers freely in the spring and summer months.

The plant is a fast grower and generally blooms beginning in the second year of growth. Check out Baldianum’s relative Gymnocalycium mihanovichii the Oriental Moon Cactus.

Flowering and Fragrance

Blooming in early summer, this plant produces impressive flowers atop its crown measuring approximately 1.5” inches across in a variety of bloom color.

These flowers may be magenta, orange, pink, pinkish-purple, purple-red, or white and produce long, green fruits.

Light & Temperature

These succulents do best in 4 to 6 hours of bright indirect light per day, but can handle light partial shade in a garden setting.

Aim for bright filtered light when planting indoors.

Try to avoid direct, full sun exposure during the hottest hours of the day (afternoon sun), as this may not only harm the plant but has been known to stall flowering.

Dwarf chin is remarkably frost tolerant, being able to handle temperatures as low as 15° degrees Fahrenheit when kept dry.

Ideally, the plant should be kept in ambient temperatures of between 59° and 86° degrees Fahrenheit.

It is best suited for USDA hardiness zones 8b to 10b.

Watering and Feeding

This cactus has a range of water needs, based upon its size and the season.

Garden plants should be thoroughly soaked, then left until the soil is completely dry to the touch.

This equates to roughly every 10 to 15 days during summer months, with more water during droughts and less water during spring and fall.

Avoid watering in winter, as this may prevent the plant from flowering.

Conversely, container specimens will require more frequent watering, usually every 7 to 10 days or when the soil is dry an inch down from the surface.

Water thoroughly until water begins to drain from the bottom of the pot and carefully pour out any standing water.

Reduce watering to once per month in winter for indoor plants and avoid watering outdoor plants if you have rainfall.

You should provide your plant a fertilizer high in potassium in early summer.

Soil & Transplanting

Being a succulent, dwarf chin hates sitting in water and will need a well-draining cactus mix.

Mix an even amount of cactus soil with either coarse sand or perlite for a quick and easy potting medium your cactus will love.

Grooming And Maintenance

This is an extremely low-maintenance plant, which may easily be neglected for short periods of time with no ill effects.

How To Propagate Gymnocalycium Baldianum Spider-Cactus

While it’s possible to propagate this plant from offshoots, these are rare.

Offsets will only appear on mature plants, forming around the base of the parent plant.

The most common method is through seeds, which must be unblemished and allowed to become overripe before they’ll open.

Clean and dry the seeds before planting.

Cultivation of the seeds should be in early spring, preferably in temperatures between 66 and 75° degrees Fahrenheit.

Dwarf Chin Cactus Pest or Diseases

While non-toxic to people or pets, the sharp spines of this cactus may cause injury.

It is generally disease-free. Mealybugs are the primary pest for this species. Details on How To Kill Mealybugs on Succulents

Dwarf chin is both drought tolerant and frost tolerant.

Suggested Gymnocalycium baldianum Uses 

Snake-cactus is an excellent way to bring color to small spaces in your home or office.  Gymnocalycium is easy to grow with no cultivation difficulties.

Outdoors, it works well in any type of desert or rocky garden theme, as well as decorations for a patio or deck.

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