Sulcorebutia steinbachii

Welcome to the fascinating world of cacti! Meet the Sulcorebutia steinbachii, a unique and captivating cactus. This guide will introduce you to everything you need to know about this cactus, from its natural habitat to the specifics of its cultivation.

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Getting to Know Sulcorebutia steinbachii

From the Wild: Natural Habitat and Other Names

Sulcorebutia steinbachii is native to the north and east of Cochabamba in the Cordillera de Cochabamba, in southern Bolivia. It was first collected near Colomi, along the route from Cochabamba to Chapare.

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Survival of the Fittest: Unique Adaptations

Sulcorebutia steinbachii is a resilient survivalist, adapted to thrive in the challenging conditions of its natural habitat. It grows mainly on high altitude, dry, stony habitats often on flats, at an altitude of 2950 – 3900 m.

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Identifying Sulcorebutia steinbachii

Spot the Differences: Identifying This Succulent

Sulcorebutia steinbachii stands out with its densely spined, globe-shaped bodies, and vibrant flowers. The spines can range in color from white to yellow, red, brown, or black, adding to its unique appeal.

A Closer Look: Appearance and Size

This petite cactus has a flattened globose shape with a green to dark green stem, sometimes tinged red when stressed. It grows up to 1 inch tall and about 2 inches wide.

Blooming Marvels: Flowering and Triggers

Sulcorebutia steinbachii blooms with stunning flowers that can be yellow, red, magenta, violet, or orange. The flowering typically occurs during spring once temperatures start warming up.

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Caring for Sulcorebutia steinbachii: Growth and Maintenance

Slow and Steady: Growth Rate and Season

Sulcorebutia steinbachii has a slow growth rate, and it generally grows during the warmer months of spring and summer.

Light of Its Life: Lighting and Cold Hardiness

This cactus enjoys bright light but should be shielded from intense, direct sunlight. It’s also a cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to -5°C (23°F), and with careful management, as low as -10°C (14°F).

Cultivation and Propagation

Sulcorebutia steinbachii loves a very permeable, coarse mineral soil and should be kept dry throughout the winter dormant period to prevent rot. Surround its root neck with very rough sand or grit for fast water drainage and appropriate air circulation.


Consider amending your soil with Bonsai Jack’s gritty mix to ensure your succulent soil drains quickly to prevent it from staying moist for too long. Source: Etsy

Watering Needs

Water Sulcorebutia steinbachii moderately in the growing season, keeping it dry during the winter rest. Always wait for visual cues to water like sunken in spines, dull skin and dry soil.

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Frost Tolerance

This cactus is quite frost hardy, but overwintering in a cool place (at 0/10°C) is crucial for the plant’s health and flower production.

Sun Exposure

Full sun exposure is essential for Sulcorebutia steinbachii, though light shade may be useful during the hottest summer days. Summer 2023 brought some intense heat waves to San Diego, California and my cacti were under shade cloths, canopies and umbrellas for most of the time.

Propagation, Pruning, and Potential Problems

Multiply Your Joy: Propagation and Pruning

Propagation is typically done through seeds, cuttings, or grafting. Pruning isn’t usually necessary unless to remove dead or damaged parts.

Common Issues and Pests

Overwatering is a common issue with this cactus, leading to root rot. Watch out for pests like spider mites and scale insects, which can cause damage if not treated.

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Indoor Growth and Toxicity Checks

Indoor Oasis: Growing Indoors

Yes, you can grow this cactus indoors! Just make sure it gets enough bright, indirect sunlight next to a south facing window.

Safety First: Toxicity

While not toxic to humans, its spines can be a potential hazard for pets, especially curious cats and dogs. You know, spines and all.

Understanding Dormancy

Sulcorebutia steinbachii like other cactus species enters dormancy typically in winter, slowing its growth and needing less water.