How to Properly Propagate and Care for Paper Spine Cactus

The Paper Spine Cactus is our new bizarre entry in the succulent plants class. As its name says, it comes with spines that look like paper giving it an exotic look. This intriguing flora provides a nice background to any part of the home, and like any other succulents, it is easy to grow and maintain.

The Paper Spine Cactus is also known for its scientific name Tephrocactus articulatus var. papyracanthus. It is closely related to the Pine Cone Cactus and defined by its segmented stems that look like stacked pinecones. The adjoining parts are very delicate and can fall off easily because they are loosely attached to each other.

Each portion is covered with thin white spines that appear like paper cutouts. The spines are harmless since they have paper-like softness, so they’re actually harmless.


The Paper Spine Cactus can be grown from seeds, cuttings, and offsets. Propagation through seeds can take longer compared to the other methods, so the alternatives are highly recommended.

Propagation using an offset is pretty straightforward. Simply separate the small copy of the cactus from the mother plant by cutting their lateral stem near the roots. After that, just repot the offset using a well-draining container with potting mix.

Doing this through stem cutting requires surgically separating the topmost clump of the segmented cactus, and letting its wound heal for around a week. When roots start appearing from the cutting, repot it using the same method as the offsets.

If propagating through seedlings, you have to carefully extract them from the plant. This requires a lot of patience because it can take up to four years for the seeds to germinate. Simply spread them on top of a moist potting mix and sprinkle some water on it at least once a week or when the soil begins drying up.

Caring Tips

The Paper Spine Cactus is native in the western part of Argentina, and it is commonly found on the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains. As a desert cactus, the succulent thrives in places that get maximum exposure to sunlight. Therefore, the ideal planting area for it is in an outdoor garden. It can still be grown as an indoor plant but just make sure that it is placed near windows or areas that get plenty of sun during the day.

As mentioned, the plant loves warm climates. However, it has been tested to withstand temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Then again, we don’t recommend taking it to its limits. During cold weather, we suggest supplementing the lack of sunlight with grow lights or simply keep it in temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe.

The Paper Spine Cactus requires little water to survive because it is acclimated to hot conditions. Thus, only sprinkle an adequate amount of water when the succulent and its soil appear too dry. Another sign of drying up is when its stems show signs of cracking or some parts start getting lighter patches.

On the other hand, symptoms of wilting usually start with soggy stems and dark discolorations on them. That’s the sign that the plant has been overwatered. Leave it to dry, or replace its soil if the need arises.


With proper care, the Paper Spine Cactus can grow up to 12 inches tall. Upon maturity, growers of the succulents are rewarded with bell-shaped flowers that have white petals and a yellow center. The flowers can reach up to 1.6 inches in diameter.

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