"Astrophytum" is a desert cactus, whose homeland is Mexico. Translated, its name means "plant star." Currently, there are many varieties of this plant that have earned special popularity among gardeners.
Cactus "Astrophytum" refers to low cylindrical, as well as spherical representatives of the cactus family. This flower got its name due to the fact that it looks like a starfish. Astrophytum is also distinguished from other individuals of its family by the presence of light specks, which are located on the stem. They are small hairy “shreds” whose purpose is to absorb moisture.
"Astrophytum" is a stunted succulent, which is characterized by a peculiar form, unpretentiousness, as well as ease of cultivation. The flower design has radial ribs, the number of which is from 3 to 10 pieces. There are representatives with a spherical shape, in which the ribs protrude a little. The color of the stem of this plant can be not only green, but also gray.
The location of the areoles is concentrated along the top of the rib. Some species have hairy clusters on areoles, while others have spikes. The plants are small in height, they can reach 5-10 cm, and in diameter - 0.2-0.3 meters. Cactus flowering in this variety occurs in mid-summer. At the top in the center of the stem is a thick peduncle, which is often single.
There are times when Astrofitum is capable of releasing several peduncles. On one peduncle, 1 bud is formed. The flower has the shape of a funnel and in diameter reaches 8 centimeters. The flowers are separately petal, semi-double, painted in a light yellow or cream color.
The cactus blooms for a short time, it happens no more than 3 days. In place of wilted buds, seed boxes are formed.
The Astrophitum cactus has a small number of species, but breeders are constantly working to expand the options for this indoor flower. Popular representatives of star-shaped succulent include such varieties and cultivars.
- "Astrophytum Capricorn" or "Capricorn". This type of cactus is quite unusual. The young individual has a spherical shape, and the more mature one is cylindrical. The stems are characterized by the presence of 6-8 divisions and emerald color. Light hairy dots give the plant a whitish appearance.
Areas are concentrated on the rib tops, from which branching spines of brown color of large length subsequently grow. There are situations when areoles envelop the entire cactus, making it look like a cocoon. The flowers of the plant are characterized by a diameter of 6 cm, their petals are painted in a yellowish color, have an orange middle. The flowering phase occurs at the beginning of summer, buds only open in the afternoon.
- "Speckled" or "Miriostigma." This cactus is considered the most unpretentious representative of the species, it has no thorns, and the stem is painted in saturated green. The plant is covered with many small flecks of felt type that have a white color. In shape, this type of succulent can be characterized by flatness, roundness.
The ribs are large, their number can be different, but often equal to 5. The flowers of the speckled flower have a diameter of 6 cm, yellow color, sometimes there is a red-orange pharynx.
- "Ornatum." This cactus differs from others in its rapid growth and large size. In the natural habitat, the flower grows up to 2 meters in height, and cultivated plants - not higher than 0.3 meters. The number of ribs at "Ornatum" is 6-8 pieces.
Areoles are formed using thin long spines, their number in the bunch does not exceed 7. The flowers are light yellow in color, they have a diameter of 7 cm.
The beginning of flowering of this cactus begins at the age of 6-7 years.
- "Asterias" is a slow- growing star-shaped cactus, which has a spherical shape and gray-green color, it is slightly flattened. In height, the plant can reach from 7 to 10 cm, in diameter - 10-14 cm. The edges of the flower are weakly expressed, usually on individuals no more than 8. The spherical plant is completely covered with small dots.
The areoles are located along the tops of the ribs; they do not have spines. Cream flowers with a reddish-brown center. Succulent blooms in early or mid-summer.
- Super Kabuto is a mix of crossed cactus varieties. It contains the "Astrophytum patterned", which is combined with a different view. The flower was bred by Japanese breeders. The height of the plant is 8 centimeters. The cactus stem is characterized by the shape of a ball and the presence of a large number of white specks that overlap the main green color.
The severity of the ribs is weak, their number is from 3 to 8 pieces. The flower has large inflorescences, painted in bright yellow color, with a red core.
- The "multi-stalked" cactus is a rather tall plant, with a diameter of 0.2 meters, its height can reach 1 meter. The spherical shape of the stem of the plant with age turns into a cylindrical. This variety has no thorns; instead, the trunk is covered with silvery villi . The number of edges in the multi-stalked succulent is 3-8 pieces.
The inflorescence is characterized by large size, yellow color, silky sheen.
- "The head of the jellyfish." This flower grows to 0.19 meters. Stem - a green cylinder, decorated with bristles that are painted in red or coffee color. On the stem are processes that resemble jellyfish tentacles. The thorns of the plant are small and thin.
The inflorescence is light, yellow, has an average size. When the culture fades, the formation of ovoid seeds begins.
Conditions of detention
The Astrophytum cactus is a photophilous plant , so it should be placed on the south or east window. During the hot summer, the succulent needs some shade. Variety "Capricorn" feels great in partial shade. The flower grows well in conditions with low humidity, it is demanding for constant ventilation.
Keep succulent warm. In summer, 20-25 degrees are considered optimal temperature indicators, and in winter the plant should be moved to a cool room where the temperature does not exceed 10 degrees above zero. Also, do not forget that Astrophytum needs a temperature difference during the day and night. For this reason, in the warm season, it is better to put a cactus on the street, but so that it is protected from rain.
This representative of cacti does not require frequent transplants. This procedure should be carried out in a situation where the root system does not fit in the pot. When transplanting, make sure that there is no excessive deepening of the root neck, as this can lead to decay. The choice of a flower container should be stopped on an option that is much larger than the previous one. And with each subsequent transplant, its volume should increase.
Expanded clay or crushed brick can be used as drainage. The surface layer can be made of decorative stone of a small size, multi-colored. Such an event will exclude excessive contact of the plant and the liquid. Watering after transplantation is not necessary, it needs to be done in a few weeks.
The substrate for planting a cactus can be bought in a store or made with your own hands. To prepare the soil, it is necessary to mix equal portions of sand, turf, leaf and peat soil. Some gardeners recommend adding crushed egg shells or crushed brick to the soil mixture. A slightly acidic or neutral soil will be the best option.
“Astrofitum” can be propagated with the help of seeds, sowing of which should be carried out in the second decade of February - early spring. The plant has large seeds of brown or black color, their size is approximately 2-3 mm. The sowing procedure consists of two stages:
- sowing grains;
- seedling care.
In order to sow cactus seeds, you will need to prepare a pot or container that is 10 cm long and 3-7 cm high. It is also worth carrying a plastic bag and a substrate for sowing.
The composition of the soil should contain vermiculite, charcoal, leaf humus in a ratio of 1: 1: 2. The earth mixture should be sterilized.
The pot should be filled with soil and irrigated. The distance from the soil to the edge of the pot should be at least 15 millimeters. Sowing grains should be uniform, surface material does not need to be sprinkled with ground. A plastic bag must be worn on the container.
High-quality seed germination of Astrophytum is possible under the following conditions:
- 100 percent air humidity;
- diffuse lighting;
- daily airing;
- temperature from 20 to 30 degrees above zero.
Seeds germinate after 1-4 weeks. The first young plants can germinate by the third day. Compliance with optimal conditions affects the quality of germination . After about 2-3 weeks have passed, you can pick the seeds, while maintaining a small distance between the sprouts. The young seedling should not be buried in the ground, at night you need to cover the cacti with a film, and in the afternoon it should be removed.
It is necessary to water the seeds with a spray, avoiding drying out. Watering seedlings is also not worth it. The best lighting option is ambient light. The second picking procedure is carried out at a time when there is an arrangement of plants in close proximity to each other. A special substrate should be added to the container for planting.
Picking contributes to the healthy growth of strong plants. In the first 12 months, it is worth doing about 4 such procedures. After a year, their number is halved. When the diameter of the cactus reaches 20 mm, it should be transplanted into a separate container.
The best option for this procedure are plastic cups with holes in the bottom. After transplanting, once every 14 days it is worth feeding cacti with fertilizers. When caring for young Astrophytums, one should adhere to the following rules:
- from 8 to 11 hours the plant should be in the sun;
- from 11 to 15 hours the plant must be moved to a shaded place;
- when yellowing the plants, lighting should be reduced;
- with excessive elongation of cacti it is worth adding lighting;
- the temperature in winter should be below 15 degrees;
- in the first winter, cactus should be watered once a month.
In order to properly care for the Astrophitum cactus at home, it is worth observing some rules.
- In the phase of active growth, it is necessary to water the plant regularly, but in moderation. The next irrigation should be carried out after the soil has dried. Water for irrigation should be soft and warm. In autumn, irrigation should be minimal; in winter, the soil should not be watered.
- To fertilize a cactus is a special mixture purchased in the store. Top dressing should be carried out in spring and summer 1 time in 30 days. In winter, Astrofitum does not need fertilizer.
- Pruning this flower is not required, but the grower should not forget about the elimination of faded buds, this will help preserve the decorative properties of the succulent.
- To care for the "Astrophytum" at rest is a special way . To do this, gradually reduce the temperature. In winter, as mentioned above, do not water the cactus, as this can cause rotting of the root system. Add artificial lighting is also not worth it.
Subject to all the above points, the flower will be able to lay the buds and give beautiful large flowers.
Diseases and Pests
The most dangerous pests of the cactus include scabbard, root and mealybug. These parasites contribute to the drying of the plant. When pests appear, immediately treat the flower with an insecticide called Actellic. If the cactus grows poorly and looks depressed, this may indicate an attack by the root worm. The parasite can be eliminated only by transplanting the plant.
Succulents of this species rarely suffer from diseases of a fungal nature. A flower can become ill only when the soil is waterlogged or if it is kept in a room with a low temperature.
Astrophytum is a great option for cactus lovers. It not only does not create trouble during cultivation, but can also become an original decoration of the interior.
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