Astrophytum

 In Category Cactus

Family: Cactaceae
Habitat: Mexico and Texas
Cultivation: They need a well-bright environment, with several daily hours of direct sunlight. The soil should be kept dry and take particular care of the type of water for the watering , which should not be too chalky.
Curiosity: The name comes from the greek “Aster”, that means star, and it is given by the presence of several sections that form the pointy ends (from four to eight points) of these plants and that is particularly striking when seen from above.

ASTROPHYTUM KEY FEATURES

The Astrophytum are ones of the most popular succulents either for their particular form and the beauty of their flowers. Originating in the desert climates of Mexico and South Texas, they have been studied and cataloged since the mid of 1800.

They have a globular stem, formed by different sections divided from each other by more or less deep furrows, giving them the characteristic shape of a “star” from which they are named. The stem grows in height: the younger plants are small and have a slow growth. It is only over time that the stem stretches, but few plants grow to have a slender appearance (also depends on the variety).

The flowers are large, often with bright colors (yellow or yellow-red) and develop from the areolas present at the top of the stem.

VARIETY AND TYPES

The genus Astrophytum includes four, some say five, different species

  • Astrophytum asterias
  • A. capricorne
  • A. myriostigma
  • A. ornatum 

But you will find on the market many other plants of Astrophytum: most are hybrids (see for example in our e-commerce section). This race is very easy to hybridize and the producers from Japan, Thailand and China have made many new varieties in this way. Their names are evocative: Super Kabuto, V-type, Snow Type, Mirakuru Kabutu, Hanazono, Hercules and many others offer a rich carnival of shapes and sizes.

TIPS FOR GROWING

These are the main indications to grow the Astrophytum:

  • A well exposure to the sun, with the exception of the Astrophytum Asteria which requires a slight shadow.
  • These plants tolerate a good temperature range but it is recommended not to go below 4 ° C. They fear, however, the humidity very much.
  • The watering must be parsimonious to avoid the standing water. In winter it must be completely suspended, while in spring and summer can vary from once every 15 days (May, September) up to 2-3 times a week in July and August. In the warmer months, it is good to proceed with the early morning watering to avoid the thermal shock to the roots when the ground is still warm.
  • The soil should be light and well drained. Fertilize with liquid fertilizer, it must be nitrogen-poor  and potassium  and phosphorus-rich once every 15 days in spring and summer.
  • Being slow growing plants, there will be the necessity to repot once every 3-4 years.

For the reproduction of Astrophytum  it is generally engaged the seeds, even those produced by plants that we already have at home. Once the seed is  planted it is recommended to keep the soil at a temperature of about 20 °C.

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