Melocactus [mel-oh-KAK-tus] is a genus of cacti belonging to the Cactaceae family and native to the Caribbean.
This genus has about 30 – 40 species and was initially named Cactus Melocactus in 1753 by Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus.
The common name Turk’s Cap Cactus refers to the wool-covered sphere at the top of the plant which resembles the traditional Turkish fez hat popular during the Ottoman rule.
Popular varieties include:
- Melocactus matanzanus
- Melocactus azureus
- Melocactus violaceus
- Melocactus peruvianus
Turk’s Cap Melocactus Care
Size and Growth
Turk’s Cap Cactus grows about 2” – 4” inches tall and has a width of around 3″ – 4″ inches.
When the Melocactus blooms, the cactus flower buds grow out roughly 2” inches long.
The plant has 8 – 9 ‘ribs’ surrounding the body of the plant with small thorns growing from them.
Flowering and Fragrance
When Turk’s Cap Cactus reaches maturity, it will develop wool and bristle-covered spheres at the top of the plant known as cephalium.
When the cephalium begins to form the body stops growing.
This will be either red or white and will grow small pink-colored flowers.
These plants also produce tube-like fruits with a waxy outer appearance.
Light and Temperature
This plant requires plenty of sunlight to survive. If planting outdoors, plant it in a sunny spot; otherwise, it won’t thrive well.
Keep in mind it’s not a cold or frost hardy plant. It needs temperatures above 70° degrees Fahrenheit (21° C).
Watering and Feeding
You’ll want to give your Turk’s Cap Cactus plenty of water as they enjoy moist environments.
Don’t let them sit in water as it can lead to root rot.
However, water regularly, and you should avoid allowing them to dry out completely, even in the colder months.
Feed your plant during the growing season to give them a little boost.
A good, balanced cactus or liquid succulent fertilizer diluted in water is ideal.
Soil and Transplanting
Turk’s Cap Cactus will enjoy any well-draining soil.
They grow best when slightly constricted at the roots, so it’s better to use a container smaller than it needs to be.
Repot your cactus like you would any other cacti and the best time to do this is at the start of the growing season.
Lift the root ball out of the pot and clean it out before placing it in another container and ensure the new container isn’t too large.
How to Propagate Turk’s Cap Cactus
This cactus is easily propagated using seeds.
Soak the seeds in water before you plant them and use well-aerated soil.
To retain heat and moisture to encourage them to root, you should seal them.
This method will take some time, so be patient and don’t give your plant too much water or fertilizer during this time.
Melon Cactus Pest or Disease Problems
This plants susceptible to root rot if left standing in the water or if you overwater it.
Suggested Uses for Turk’s Cap Cactus
While it’s not the easiest plant to care for due to its tricky care requirements, it makes a beautiful addition to your home because of the unique aesthetic of the cactus and its cephalium.