Melocactus Zehntneri | A Cup Cake Shaped Unusual Cactus |

Melocactus zehntneri belongs to the Melocactus genus which consists of more than 30 species. Many people prefer to grow them due to their eye-catching beauty

In fact, Melocactus zehntneri produce a structure in bright red or in white and that is the main highlight of these plants. 

It usually arises from the top part of the plant. The Melocactus zehntneri flowers will arise from that structure too.

Melocactus zehntneri go by the common name Turk’s cap cactus as they tend to take the look of a fez hat. Furthermore , Melocactus zehntneri  are called Melon cactus in common. 

Melocactus Zehntneri

They produce some fruit, and the birds are attractive to them. Besides, wildlife also is attractive towards those fruits. 

The ideal time to grow Melocactus zehntneri is spring. Some of the Melocactus zehntneri grow at a faster rate where there are some Melocactus zehntneri which grow at a slow rate. Melocactus zehntneri are native to Central America and South America.

Melocactus zehntneri form with great variations and it is somewhat difficult to separate them from each other and identify them. 

So, this article is about how to grow the Melocactus zehntneri well , their propagation method etc. if you are excited to learn about this beauty, continue reading this article.

How do I identify Melocactus zehntneri?

When the Melocactus zehntneri matures, their matt green stem would be covered up with  small snow-white spines. 

When they produce flowers, they will be orange in color. It is a treat to watch them in full blossom. They produce a structure called cephalium which you could spot in bristly red or in white. 

It will form on the top part of the plants. Those flowers will transform into fruits, and they will look like peppers.

The Melocactus zehntneri which are young do not carry the cephalium as it will occur only on the matured plants. 

Literally you can spot the Melocactus zehntneri as a basic cactus which tends to take either a green round shape or a cylindrical shape.

Size of the plant

Melocactus zehntneri  will reach a maximum height of 3 feet and a maximum width of 1 foot when they grow to their fullest potential.

Growth rate

As aforesaid there could be certain Melocactus zehntneri plants which grow at a slow rate where there will be some plants which grow at a faster rate.

One look care guide

Botanical NameMelocactus zehntneri
Common NameTurk’s cap cactus, Melon cactus
Plant TypeCactus
Mature SizeMaximum height of 3 feet
Maximum width would 1 foot
Sun ExposureFull sunlight
Soil TypeWell-draining, sandy
Soil pHacidic or neutral
Bloom TimeSpring
Flower ColorOrange
Hardiness ZonesUSDA hardiness zones 10–11.
Native AreaCentral America and in South America.
Average price $ 8

How do you take care of Melocactus zehntneri?

Melocactus zehntneri are some finicky set of plants where you need to absolutely make sure that you fulfill their growing requirements as only then will they flourish

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They would be perfect fits for experienced gardeners particularly in cactus gardening. All you need to do is to fulfill the sunlight and temperature requirement.further grow them in an excellent draining potting medium. 

Watering properly has a greater  impact on the plant’s vigorous growth. As long as you do not make faults with watering, they will thrive well.

Melocactus Zehntneri

Light Requirement 

Melocactus zehntneri  are very demanding when it comes to sunlight as they need to have direct sunlight to grow well. 

Hence, to fulfill this requirement, you need to grow them in a spot where they can gain at least six hours of sunlight daily. 

Hence, they would be ideal picks for outdoor gardening. Having said that you can grow them as houseplants also given that you grow them in a bright sunny spot. Hence a windowsill or a balcony would be ideal places to grow them.

Temperature and humidity.

Melocactus zehntneri would prefer to have tropical temperatures.

These are not frost hardy plants and chances are that frost may even kill the Melocactus zehntneri plants. So, a temperature which is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit would suit these plants the best. 

You need to assure that you are not exposing the Melocactus zehntneri plants to temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it could be lethal on the plants. 

On the other hand, protect the Melocactus zehntneri plants from cold drafts and from air conditions also.

They are tolerant of all humidity levels if you have grown them in a soil medium which has an excellent drainage.

Is it cold hardy?

Melocactus zehntneri are not cold hardy plants.

In fact, they rest during periods from October to April. Hence it is critical that you expose these plants to the aforesaid temperatures.

USDA Hardiness Zone

Melocactus zehntneri  are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 10–11.

Watering Requirement 

Melocactus zehntneri needs relatively more water when compared with the other cactus. Only then they can flourish. 

It could be due to the fact that they are hailing from more tropical climates. Hence, you need to water them once every few days while ascertaining that their soil is dry from the previous watering session. 

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Having said that, do not wait until their soil becomes bone dry. Some parts of the soil need to be fairly moist.

More importantly, ensure that you do not over water the Melocactus zehntneri plants.

Just as with the other succulents and cactus, over-watering could create root rot for Melocactus zehntneri plants. 

Unfortunately, chances are that you may even lose the plants as root rot could bring fatal repercussions for the plants.

Soil Requirement Type / ph.

A sandy, well-draining soil mix will go well with the Melocactus zehntneri  plants.  Further, it should ideally be acidic or neutral

They can thrive in sandy or in rocky soil  mix as they are well drained; if you grow them in a poor draining soil mix , it will create root rot in the pots. 

Even if you water them well you will not be able to reap the good outcome of it,  if you fail to grow them in a well-draining soil mix. 

A sandy or rocky soil which is well draining would go well with the Melocactus zehntneri plants.

Melocactus Zehntneri

Pot size Potting and Repotting

When you grow the Melocactus zehntneri in a container, they prefer to stay a little cramped. Ideally the right pot should be slightly larger than the cactus root ball. 

Additionally,  the pot should carry sufficient draining holes too. An unglazed clay pot would be ideal to grow the Melocactus zehntneri plants since the excess moisture can evaporate faster in these types of pots. 

When repotting, you need to wear thick gloves so that the spines will not damage you.

You may consider repotting the Melocactus zehntneri plants, if you spot their roots have spread all over the pot and if they have spilled out. 

You can repot them in spring since that would be the start of their growing season. Further when selecting the pot, it should be ideally one size larger than the initial pot. 

To repot, you need to gently take the plant out of the pot and place it in a new pot which is filled with a fresh well-draining soil mix. Ensure that you plant them in the same depth as what was grown before in the older pot.  

Where to Plant

As explained in the above, you need to choose a spot where the Melocactus zehntneri plants can gain sufficient sunlight. 

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Hence if you grow them indoors, a windowsill or a spot in your balcony would go well with these plants. Additionally, you should grow them in a potting medium which has excellent drainage too.


Melocactus zehntneri plants produce flowers in orange during spring. Furthermore, birds and some other wildlife are quite attractive towards the flowers.

Fertilizer and time of year.

Melocactus zehntneri plants need to have sufficient fertilizer amounts so that they can grow healthily and vigorously

You may proceed with fertilizers which are specifically made for succulents and for cactus. However, when feeding them, ensure that you dilute them and then use them. 

That will allow you to apply them with a balanced fertilizer which will suit the plants. Unless chances are that it could be too strong and will end up creating feed burns in the plants.

Consider applying fertilizers during spring and summer. Avoid feeding them in winter as they would be in their dormancy during winter.


Melocactus zehntneri plants dormancy will be in winter


Melocactus zehntneri plants are nontoxic plants

Common bugs and illnesses

Melocactus zehntneri plants are a hardy set of pests which can resist pests attacks. 

However, since Melocactus zehntneri plants are responsive towards over water, there is a high probability  of them suffering from root rot. Make sure that you do not supply them with water in excess. 

Special Care tips

Keep in mind that they need bright sunlight levels. Besides, expose them to warmer temperatures as aforesaid

More importantly, always water them in sufficient quantities without creating waterlogged conditions in the pots.

Melocactus Zehntneri

How to propagate Melocactus zehntneri 

The Seed propagation method is the most suitable  way of propagating the Melocactus zehntneri plants. 

To start off, first take a new pot and fill it with a well-draining soil mix which consists of pumice. First you need to keep the Melocactus seeds in warm water  for some time ,

Next sow the seeds there and cover the specimen with plastic cover. That will ensure that heat and humidity is retained in the pots. 

When the seeds germinate into seedlings , you may remove the plastic cover and you can expose them to proper sunlight. 

However, ensure that you expose the plants to bright sunlight levels gradually. When they start to grow as mature plants, you can continue with the regular care treatments for the plants.


Trust you found this article very useful and that you are excited to start growing the Melocactus zehntneri plants. 

Melocactus zehntneri plants are worth having and since they are nontoxic plants, you can grow them even if you have kids and pets around. 

Happy cultivating with Melocactus zehntneri plants !

Cedit to : Aj’s Cacti
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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.