Astrophytum capricorne var. niveum
Echinocactus capricornis v. niveus
This cactus is native to Mexico. It is endemic in the desert of Chihuahua, at an altitude of about 600 mbetween the spiny bushes of the “Mesquite” woodland: it grows in very dry areas, on gravely soils among limestone rocks.
This cactus grows a sharp, cylindrical stem, up to 50 cm tall; is has a furry appearance due to the white flecks that cover its surface. It presents 6-8 spines of variable size (max. 9 cm long) per areole, flat, grey-chalk or yellow and white in some specimens. The medium size flowers are yellow, with red or orange throats.
This Astrophytum is a relatively easy-to-grow species. It needs a mineral, well-drained soil. Water sparingly from March till October, letting the soil getting dry before watering again. To avoid root rot, keep it dry from the beginning of autumn to the end of winter. It is theorically hardy to -7°C, but during cold months keep it in a cool place. It does well from full sun to light shade.
Propagation can easily be done by seeds. During spring, put them in containers with fine, well-draining sandy soil. Seeds can be sown in pots of fine, well-drained sandy soil: cover them with a fine layer of grit and water with fungicide. For the first two weeks keep the humidity level high covering the pots with a sheet of glass; replace it with light shade-cloth, and for the next two weeks mist once or twice a day. Then, mistings can be done every two and every three days. In the end, rooted seedlings can be planted separaterly in small containers.
The variety ’niveum’ is the one which has the northern habitat of all the Astrophytum capricorne (Latitude 27° North).