What does Notocactus refer to, and what are the key steps for its successful cultivation?

Succulents and Cactus have often drawn the attention of gardeners and especially the newbies. Notocactus is a dream cactus to have in your garden.

Is notocactus on your checklist for your home garden? You can certainly opt for one as they have a gorgeous outlook.

Notocactus magnificus or simply notocactus is also termed as Parodia magnifica and can be a great fit for your garden provided you place it in a bright place.

The Balloon Cactus is a descendant of America, mainly Southern American countries like Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina & Peru. The cactus is usually big in size and expands along a lot of areas.

Wondering why the notocactus succulents are referred to as the balloon cactus? This is mainly because of its shape which is kind of a barrel or a balloon. The spherical shaped Parodia magnifica has a bluish-green texture with bright yellow spines all around.

Let us now go through the balloon flower facts so that make your choice easier to get a notocactus for your home garden.

Traits of Notocactus

Balloon cactus

Parodia magnifica also referred to as notocactus is a magnificent succulent for gardening purpose. The notocactus is a ball-like succulent that has hard brush-like golden colored spines.

These cacti plants are usually classified as large succulents with around 31 cm in height and having a diameter of up to 16 cm. The notocactus succulents have a habit of growing in bunches but sometimes they are also found unaccompanied depending on the habitat.

The Balloon cactus has low maintenance criteria and do not require much attention. Notocactus is a tender succulent and it is easy to grow. The Parodia magnifica is quite showy a plant and although having a huge size is often preferred as a houseplant for ornamental purpose.

The Parodia magnifica, also known as Parodia cactus has derived its name from being recognized under the Parodia subdivision of plants.


The ideal place to grow a Notocactus

The amazing fact about the Parodia magnifica is that it can be planted indoors and also outdoors. Many times people say, the notocactus is a big plant and cannot be grown indoors but the reality is that most of its species are often used as ornamental houseplants.

Although the Balloon cactus seems to flourish better in the outdoors due to the bright light available, you can easily have it inside your house in a bright spot with splendid sunlight.

Where to place and how?

It actually does not matter that much where you think of placing the Balloon cactus, it may be indoors or outdoors but do remember to keep it in a spot with adequate sunlight.

If you have it planted outdoors, try to place it in the vicinity of a big tree so that it does not have to face the scorching heat of the direct sun. Plants like cactus and balloon cactus prefer partial sunlight and well in such conditions.

In case you bring your indoor plant outdoors for some exposure to natural weather conditions, remember to put your parodia cactus under some shed.

In indoors, a window face at the southern side would be great to place the Balloon cactus. You must ensure that it receives the glazing light of the sun.

To expose all its side to the light in nearly balanced proportion, rotate your pot with the notocactus plant after every 5-6 months.


How to Grow & Care for Notocactus?

The notocactus plant generally grows in clusters provided it meets the favorable conditions responsible for its growth. The Balloon cactus spreads over a wider area and has a higher growth rate than normal succulents.

Are you bothered thinking about how to take care of a notocactus? Well, no more worries, we have got you covered now. We will now be discussing all the vital factors related to the growth of the notocactus plant and its related care.

Let us now drill down each of the vital parameters essential for balloon cactus care.

Soil Mixture

The notocactus plant being based out of South America has always been adaptable to arid climatic conditions. The Balloon cactus will survive in dry soils even but will flourish in a nutrient-rich soil which is porous in nature.

You must also make sure to place your notocactus plant in well-draining soil so that the water can easily circulate through and the plant is able to get rid of the excess water.

Are you wondering how to obtain a porous soil? This is very easy, let me guide you. Take a mixture of quality cactus mix and Pumice in a 1:1 ratio and you are good to go. You can also opt for a mixture of sandy soil and cactus mix in a similar ratio.

Sometimes, gardeners also prefer soil mixture will all of the 3 stated above in 1:1:1 proportion.

Water Requirements

Do you know how often to water parodia magnifica? Firstly, the size of the plant and then the weather too is among the considering elements for deciding the watering frequency or volume.

The notocactus do not require much observation in terms of watering but you must refrain from overwatering leading to plant kill. Wait for the top portion of the soil to dry before you opt for the next watering session.

You need to water your notocactus quite often during the summers. You may set your watering frequency at once in every alternate week. During the spring season, you need to water it once every 2 weeks and in winter it is advisable to keep the plant drier.

You can only keep the soil moist to ensure that your plant can survive. If you reside in a very dry area, opt for watering the notocactus once in a month.

Are you also thinking about how to take care of a baby cactus in terms of watering? Let me tell you that the newly planted Balloon cactus will obviously require more water than a mature one.

Temperature & Light

The notocactus cannot be termed as frost tolerant and it cannot be termed intolerant too. Does it sound a bit weird? Well, let me explain and make it clear for you.

The Balloon cactus is very strong in context to adaptability and can suit itself to harsh conditions of climate. It can endure low temperatures ranging between 20ºF to -6ºF. However, you should not let it stay in freezing conditions for long since it might harm.

If you reside in such a place where winters are not so harsh, you can happily keep your parodia outside all round the year.

In case winters are extreme at your place, do not risk leaving it outdoors, keep it inside your house or you can build a temporary green room for it.

As you already know, the notocactus needs to be kept at a bright spot with partial light if you opt for indoor plantation. In case, you have placed it outdoors, avoid keeping it in direct sunlight or else you will find a sunburned cactus. A shed or a spot beside a bigger tree would be best.

Potting & Re-potting

Well, now comes one of the most interesting parts for your indoor gardening experience, to choose an appropriate pot for your notocactus. Are you wondering which kind of notocactus pot to opt for? Let us begin with the dimensions. A pot with 3-4 inches depth will be ideal for this.

The Parodia magnifica should be placed in a pot having a well-drainage system with proper holes at the bottom surface. A pot with good aeration can also be an option.

You might be thinking now when should be the right time to re-pot the succulent? Well, let me tell you something important here. Just like you shift your house only when it is falling short of space, similarly, your notocatus only needs to be shifted if it has outgrown the existing pot.

But the Parodia magnifica, due to its rapid growth rate, quickly outgrows its pot and needs to be repotted quicker in comparison to other succulents, maybe once in every 1.5-2 years.

Fertilizers & Pests

The Balloon cactus do not necessarily need to be fertilized but with time your soil loses its nutritional value and demands to be replenished. In such cases, you can certainly add a few amounts of fertilizers to your soil for giving your succulents some additional nutrition.

Add fertilizers in a balanced and controlled fashion diluting the strength to half or one-fourth before applying. The frequency for fertilizing should be once in a month only.

The notocactus is prone to mites and mealybugs, so whenever you find them on your houseplant, wash them away. For these plants, you do not need to spray pesticides.

Sometimes the roots of the Parodia magnifica start rotting. Keep your plant under close observation and once you discover a rot, cut it away from the plant to stop spreading.

Some species of Notocactus

Are you wondering about the popular varieties of notocactus that can be opted for plantation? Well, let me take you through this.

Below are the lists of few notocactus species popular in the market.

  • Notocactus magnificus (Parodia magnifica or Ballon cactus)
  • Notocactus leninghausi (Parodia leninghausii or Golden ball cactus)
  • Notocactus scopa (Silver ball cactus)
  • Notocactus schlosseri (Parodia erubescense)
  • Notocactus buiningii (Parodia buiningii)

Blossoms of Notocactus

Notocactus flower

The notocactus blooms bright and colorful flowers that have shades of yellow and cherry. Are you wondering how old does a balloon cactus need to be to bloom? The succulents start blooming once it has attained maturity and are ready to reproduce.

But sometimes the plant might not at all flower. Worried about such a condition? You can solve it by following some steps to make your parodia magnifica flower bud ready to bloom.

During the winters, when the cactus plant goes through a dormant period you should try not to water it unless really needed. Remember, damp environments are not good for flowering, and watering unnecessarily may put your succulent into one.

Now you need to boost the flowering ability of your Balloon cactus during the blooming phase that is during the summer or the spring season. How will you boost its ability? Well, it’s quite easy. All you need to do is feed your succulent with nutritional liquid fertilizers.

Balanced liquid fertilizers along with a proper watering routine will surely make your plant bloom.

Propagating the succulent

The first step to propagation is the removal of the offsets from the adult plant that you choose to propagate. You must take enough precautions to prevent yourself from being hurt by the spikes.

Once, you are done with removing the offset, follow the below guidelines to successfully propagate your notocactus.

Dry the cut out offset by keeping it wrapped with a paper towel or by simply putting it in a dry area.
You need to allow it some time to dry which might take quite a few days.

You can put the cut end into a growth hormone solution for fast results, but this totally optional and depends on your choice.

A callus, which is a scab growth, will appear on the cut spot.

Prepare your potting mixture with the correct proportion of essentials. Plant the callus in the pot where you have prepared the soil.

Now you need to water it continuously for a few weeks. To ensure better growth, place your pot in a bright place and in partial sunlight.

Once the new plant raises its head, expose it to more sunlight for faster growth.

Where to buy

You can easily purchase Notocactus seed or cactus plant online.

They are available in all major ecommerce site. But, it’s cheaper and faster in Amazon.


Toxicity of Notocactus

After knowing everything about Parodia magnifica, one last thought that you might have is whether the succulent is poisonous in nature. Well, I understand, it is quite natural since some succulents are really toxic.

But, be assured that the Balloon cactus is not toxic in nature.

You really need to cautious regarding its spines as they are quite sharp and hard. But if somehow you get pricked by the spines, do consult your doctor for safety.

You might also wish to ask if notocactus is toxic to pets. The simple answer to this will be a ‘NO’.


The Parodia magnifica as I have already mentioned is a fantastic flowering succulent for your garden having the ability to adapt both indoors and outdoors. Even if you are a newbie gardener, you need not worry about this as it requires very little effort to grow a notocactus.

The Balloon cactus has longer sustainability and can live up to long years gifting you with colorful blossoms.

So, what are you waiting for now that you know everything about the plant? Just visit the nearest plant store or you can also have a look at the online marketplace for your first notocactus.

A bonus tip for you – Repotting of notocactus is a healthy practice and doing it quite frequently has no harm but benefits allowing you to have proper health checks for your houseplant.