Astrophytum ornatum cv. Kikko


No synonyms are recorded for this species name.


Astrophytum ornatum cv. Kikko is a nursery cultivar and, thus, doesn’t exist in nature. The regular Astrophytum ornatum is a species of cactus that comes from Mexico, specifically from the states of Hidalgo, Queretaro, San Luis Potosí and Guanajuato. Despite being locally abundant, it’s patchily distributed due to habitat destruction from goats, mining, illegal collection, and other factors. This cactus grows at altitudes between 800-2000 meters in semidesert xerophile scrub and canyons, taking advantage of the specific conditions of humidity and temperature necessary for its growth and reproduction. It can also be found on limestone cliffs and in deciduous forests, but it’s becoming rarer as its habitats are being destroyed.


Astrophytum ornatum cv. Kikko is a unique and rare cactus variety that stands out for its stem split into distinct tubercles. The areoles, or small bumps, are arranged in long conical shapes and might be a mutation similar to Astrophytum myriostigma cv. Lotusland, but it’s much larger and stronger with longer tubercles. The stem is usually covered in white flecks that can be dense or sparse, depending on the specific clone. The bigger and fatter the “teeth” are, the better the plant looks. The stem is usually solitary and doesn’t produce offsets, even if its top is cut to encourage branch growth. All Astrophytum species have a “kikko” variant, except Astrophytum caput-medusae.
This cactus is often mistaken for the similar Astrobergia cv. Astrophytum sp. x Leuctenbergia principis hybrid. Its flowers resemble those of Astrophytum ornatum and are pale yellow and shining silk. It blooms in the spring to summer.


Astrophytum ornatum cv. Kikko may be a challenge to grow, but it’s not impossible. It’s often seen as a grafted plant, but it can also grow on its own roots, though slower. You’ll need to use a mineral-based soil with little organic matter and repot every 2-3 years, making sure to give it a pot with enough depth for the tap root and good drainage to avoid rot.
When it comes to watering, go easy from March to October and keep it completely dry in winter when temperatures are between 5 to 15 degrees Celsius. Avoid high humidity during the rest period. This cactus needs bright light with some direct sun, but don’t leave it in the sun for too long or it may get sunburned. Strong light will bronze the plant and encourage flowering and spine production.
It’s reputedly sensitive to frost but can handle it better if kept dry during cold weather. It’s best to give it some warmth throughout the year with a minimum temperature of 5 to 8 degrees Celsius during the rest period.
Fertilize the soil during the growing season with a high potassium and phosphorous, low nitrogen mix. Succulent plants don’t benefit from high nitrogen and will become too soft and watery.
Astrophytum ornatum cv. Kikko may attract pests like red spider mites, mealy bugs, scales, and rot. Mites can be controlled with overhead watering, but it’s best to keep the plant healthy and in a mineral-based soil with good exposure and ventilation to prevent pests and diseases. Keep an eye out for mealy bugs, which can disfigure the new growth, and root rot, which is only a minor problem if you water and air the plant properly. Fungicides won’t be much help if the plant is not well-cared for.


To propagate Astrophytum ornatum cv. Kikko, you can use seeds, cuttings, or grafting. The seeds will sprout within 7-14 days if kept at a temperature of 21-27° C during the spring. Gradually take off the glass cover as the plant grows and ensure it has proper ventilation, but avoid exposing young plants to direct sunlight. Let the seedlings establish roots before transplanting them into individual pots.


The etymology of the cacti species Astrophytum ornatum can be traced to its scientific classification. “Astrophytum” comes from the Greek words “astro,” meaning star, and “phyton,” meaning plant, referring to the star-shaped appearance of the species’ flowers. “Ornatum” is derived from the Latin word “ornatus,” meaning adorned or decorated, referring to the species’ ornate appearance.

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