Astrophytum (Astrophytum) – one of the most popular genera of cacti in indoor floriculture, having a powerful spherical stem with pronounced ribs, which acquires a columnar shape with age. A characteristic feature of the astrophytum cactus are light specks on the surface of the stem, which are small bundles of tiny hairs that collect moisture.
Astrophytums bloom at the age of 8-10 years with large funnel-shaped flowers with numerous petals of yellow or light yellow color, which are formed only on the tops of the shoots.
When viewed from above, the cacti of this genus have the shape of a regular star, which is the reason for the name of the genus. Astron in Greek “star”, phyton “plant”.
Photo of cactus astrophytum
Astrophytums come in different arrangements of specks, for example, in the decorated astrophytum (Astrophytum ornatum var. glabrescens) they are arranged in stripes that alternate with “clean” stripes (without specks), or evenly cover the entire surface of the ribs, as in var. mirbellii, and may be completely absent var. virens.
The photo of Astrophytum in our photo gallery also shows species with powerful spines:
Bizarrely twisted, like the horns of a mountain goat – Astrophytum goat-horned (Astrophytum capricorne).
Or without thorns at all – four-ribbed astrophytum (Astrophytum myriostigma var. Quadricostatum).
Star-shaped astrophytum (Astrophytum asterias) has flat ribs.
For good growth and flowering, astrophytums, like other cacti, need intense lighting, a period of winter dormancy and proper feeding during active growth.
With insufficient lighting, the stems of cacti are drawn out, a characteristic “pattern” of thorns or specks is not formed. In summer, a lot of heat is required (about +25 … +35 ° C) and moderate watering with warm water under the root. In winter, at a temperature of about +10 … +12 ° C, watering is practically stopped, otherwise the stem may rot.
To ensure proper care for Austrophytum, it is necessary to feed the cactus with fertilizers high in potassium and phosphorus once every 3-4 weeks in the summer. The use of nitrogen fertilizers is undesirable, as it leads to “obesity” of the plant and cracking of the stem.
The beginning of flowering depends on the size of the pot: the smaller it is, the sooner the plant starts flowering. Astrophytums are demanding on the composition of the soil; some content of clay soddy soil and an alkaline reaction are necessary. The addition of marble chips is very good for the development of plants. Astrophytum is propagated by seeds.