Notocactus magnificus

Now known as Parodia magnifica but previously Notocactus magnificus and Eriocactus magnificus and commonly called the ‘Balloon Cactus’ this is a species from Brazil, Uruguay and nearby areas.

Notocactus magnificus syn. Parodia magnifica
Notocactus magnificus syn. Parodia magnifica

This is a cactus variety that is very popular in cultivation and a relatively easy to grow species. It forms ribbed spherical bodies with golden yellow spines along the ribs themselves.

It will grow as a single specimen or if allowed it will form a mound of rounded balls.

How to Grow Notocactus magnificus

Given a position in full sun and a warm climate this is an easy species to grow.

Best grown in a container in all but ideal climates.

  1. Choose a free draining pot or container.
  2. A specialist cactus and succulent soil is ideal. Otherwise amend a normal potting mix with extra drainage material such as pumice, scoria or similar.
  3. A position in full sun to a little shade is ideal.
  4. In USDA climate Zones 9 – 11 you can grow this cactus outdoors. In cooler zones it will need to be overwintered indoors.
  5. Watering should be limited to when the soil/potting mix is dry.
  6. Little fertilizer is required, a specialist cactus may be beneficial depending on the soil, but only when the the plant is actively growing..
  7. Repot as the plant outgrows its container in late spring to summer.
  8. When repotting, do not water for at least 2 – 3 weeks to allow for any damaged roots to callus over.

Indoors or Outdoors ?

You can grow Parodia magnifica either indoors or outdoors, depending on the climate zone. Just follow the light, watering, soil and temperature requirements.

One word of warning, outdoors you need to avoid frosts. You also need to avoid temperatures below around 30F.

As a rule Cold and Wet tend to lead to the death of this plant.


Good strong light is required, indoors you may need grow lights. Outdoors, full sun to a little afternoon shade.


Most important, you need a free draining soil both indoors and outdoors.


Not a lot of fertilizer is required, generally if you repot the plant it will not need extra fertilizer for two years. After that, either a slow release fertiliser once a year OR a liquid fertilizer at full strength every 2 – 3 months missing out in winter.


The general rule of waiting for the soil to dry before watering applies. During winter, hold back on watering. If the plant is outdoors and you have wet winters, it may be best to grow it in a container and protect it from winter rains.


Offsets are the easiest way to propagate Parodia magnifica. It is also possible to grow them from seed.

  • Wait until the offsets are established.
  • Use a sharp knife to remove the offsets.
  • Allow the offsets (pups) to callus over in a cool dry position for 3 – 4 days.
  • You can use a hormone rooting powder or liquid at this stage if you wish.
  • Prepare pots with a cactus and succulent potting mix.
  • The offsets are placed with the callused part on the soil, fairly firm.
  • Water only when the soil mix feels dry – Every 3 – 4 days.
  • Keep the plants in bright indirect light.
  • Once you see signs of new growth and root development slowly move the new plants to a sunnier position.