Epithelantha bokei, commonly known as the "Button Cactus," is a small, globular cactus species that belongs to the family Cactaceae. It is covered so densely in spines that it appears all white and is smooth to the touch! It is native to the Chihuahuan Desert, specifically the states of Chihuahua and Coahuila in northeastern Mexico. Epithelantha bokei is known for its unique appearance and is highly valued among cactus enthusiasts due to its rarity.
Growing Epithelantha bokei as a houseplant requires specific care to mimic its natural desert habitat. Here are some guidelines to help you cultivate this intriguing cactus:
Light: Provide bright sunlight to your Epithelantha bokei. Place it near a sunny window, preferably facing south or west, to ensure it receives sufficient light. However, avoid exposing it to scorching hot sunlight, especially during the hottest parts of the day.
Temperature: Epithelantha bokei thrives in warm temperatures similar to its native habitat. Ideally, maintain a temperature range of 70-85°F (21-29°C) during the day and 50-60°F (10-15°C) during the night. Protect the cactus from very cold drafts and sudden temperature fluctuations.
Soil: Use a well-draining cactus or succulent potting mix. A blend of coarse sand, perlite, and regular potting soil in a ratio of 2:1:1 can work well. This type of soil allows excess water to drain away, preventing root rot.
Watering: Epithelantha bokei is a desert cactus and is adapted to dry conditions. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. During the growing season (spring and summer), water once every two to three weeks. In winter, reduce watering frequency to once a month or even less. Always ensure the soil is completely dry, and has stayed dry for a few days, before watering again.
Humidity: Epithelantha bokei doesn't require high humidity levels and can tolerate normal household humidity. However, it's essential to provide good air circulation to prevent fungal issues.
Fertilizer: Feed the cactus with a balanced, diluted cactus fertilizer during the growing season. Follow the package instructions for the appropriate dosage and frequency. Avoid fertilizing during the winter months when the cactus is dormant.
Potting: Choose a small, shallow pot with drainage holes to accommodate the cactus's shallow root system. Repotting is usually necessary every few years or when the plant outgrows its current container.
Epithelantha bokei is considered special and rare due to its distinctive appearance and limited distribution in the wild. It features small, spherical stems covered in tubercles that bear tufts of white or yellowish spines. The spines are incredibly short and give the cactus a unique "button-like" or "pin cushion" appearance. The cactus is slow-growing and may take several years to reach its maximum size of about 1-2 inches (2.5-5 cm) in diameter.
Because of its rarity, Epithelantha bokei is highly sought after by collectors and cactus enthusiasts. However, it's crucial to ensure that any specimens you acquire are legally and ethically sourced, adhering to conservation guidelines and regulations. The plants we carry are nursery grown in Southern California and NEVER poached from their native habitat.