Astrophytum - varieties of cacti, sowing and care

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She is elitist, the small but fine cactus genus Astrophytum. The extravagant habit is characterized by phenomenal ribs, which are either richly spined or completely bald. A delicate, white flocking underscores the exotic habit. If the colorful flowering is added in summer, nobody can escape the magic of these spiny desert inhabitants. Start a journey through the distinctive varieties of cacti and consult the practical instructions on sowing and care.
Varieties of cacti
They make the heart of every cactus lover beat faster. The species and varieties of Astrophytum captivate with fulminant shapes and colors. Some outstanding examples are these:
Astrophytum asterias - sea urchin cactus

  • Gray-green, spherical and flattened body
  • Growth height 2-5 centimeters
  • Diameter 6-10 centimeters
  • No thorns available
The Cactus of the Year 2012 presents in summer large yellow flowers with red throat.
Astrophytum capricorne
  • Green, round plant body, dotted with white hair tufts
  • Distinct contour with 7-8 sharp ribs
  • Growth height 10-15 centimeters
  • Diameter 10-15 centimeters
  • Sharp thorns, shaped like the horns of a goat
The up to 7 centimeters large yellow flowers exude a lovely scent.
Astrophytum caput-medusae - Medusenhaupt
  • The bizarre form is characterized by spindle-shaped, up to 19 centimeters long shoots
  • On the shoots sit thorns and whitewashed areoles
  • Striking is the up to 15 centimeters long taproot
The flowers unfold from the areoles in bright yellow with orange throat
Astrophytum myriostigma - bishop's cap
  • Spherical growth with 5 triangular, wide ribs
  • Growth height 10-25 centimeters
  • Diameter 10-18 centimeters
  • The whole body shimmers white under a dense flocking
  • No thorns available
The yellow flower forms a decorative contrast to the white floured epidermis.
Astrophytum ornatum
  • Round to cylindrically shaped silhouette in dark green
  • Spiral-like, sharp-edged ribs
  • Yellow, very strong spines spring from yellowish areoles
  • Growth height 30-100 centimeters
  • Diameter 15-30 centimeters
The largest Astrophytum species also flowers in a very bright yellow and is considered in the wild as endangered.
Breeding and propagation of Astrophytum succeed only by sowing. Anyone who takes a look at the spherical to columnar habit, recognizes immediately that methods such as cuttings, Kindel or Absenker are not feasible. The following instructions show how the plan succeeds:
Interesting for beginners is the fact that the seeds of these cacti with a diameter of 2.5 millimeters are comparatively large. To harvest the seeds, pick the ripe fruits in the fall. These roll between your fingers until the seeds tumble out. Since these cactus fruits contain hardly any pulp, the preparation of the seed must be carried out quickly:
  • Soak the freshly picked seeds in lukewarm water for 6-8 hours
  • In a thermos, the desired temperature is easily maintained
  • Then clean the seeds in the sieve under running water
  • Spread on blotting paper or a newspaper page for it to dry
If a thermos flask is not available for soaking, use a different container. This must be dark, so that the seeds do not germinate prematurely.
The size of the vessel is primarily dependent on the amount of seed. In addition, it should have a transparent cover and be at least 4-5 inches deep. Whether you choose a glass or plastic container is up to you. It is important to thoroughly clean it with hot water shortly before use.
Substrate for sowing
The requirements for the Saaterde are simply knitted. It should consist mostly of mineral components, with the addition of a little humus. High quality cactus clay, which is mixed with fine-grained sand, lava granules or vermiculite in a ratio of 1: 3, is ideally suited. How to prepare the substrate:
  • Keep the sap in the sieve under running water
  • Put in a fireproof tray without lid
  • Sterilize for 5 minutes in the microwave at 700-800 watts
  • Alternatively put in the oven for 20 minutes at 150-180 degrees Celsius
Step-by-Step Guide
The best time for sowing is autumn. The seeds are freshly harvested and your adult cacti enter the hibernation so you can pay close attention to the offspring. Following the preparations, proceed as follows:
  • Fill the slightly moist substrate into the seed box to a height of 3 centimeters
  • Smooth and press the surface with a sanitized board or other smooth tool
  • Spread the seeds on the substrate at a distance of 0.5 centimeters
  • Do not over-shoot the light germs
The sowing is moistened with collected rainwater from a hand sprayer. Then the seed hopper is sealed airtight, so that no pests or fungal spores gain access. Placed under a light source, such as a 10 watt cold-light energy-saving bulb, the seedlings receive 15 hours of brightness daily. The temperature must not drop below 20 degrees Celsius during this phase. Ideal is a heat level of 24-26 degrees Celsius.
Tip: Irrigation water for sowing Astrophytum is germ-free by adding Chinosol from the pharmacy.
After about 3 months, the cover of the seed hopper is occasionally ventilated, because the young Astrophytum now begin to grow. If the shell can remain open without the youths beginning to shrink, it will be piqued. By the way, the seedlings love a close neighborhood to each other. The later the separation takes place, the greater the chances of success.
As desert inhabitants, Astrophytum have different demands compared to classic indoor plants. These are quite easy to consider with a little prudence, as the following guide to care has.
Location and substrate
During the growth and flowering phase, all varieties of cactus need a full sun. If the amount of light is insufficient, the flower will stay out. Ideally you will spend Astrophytum on the sunny balcony from May, because the fresh air is also good for the plants. Under an awning or a roof overhang, the succulents should also be protected from roaring rain. An exemplary substrate should be as follows:
  • High quality cactus clay, enriched with pumice, lava granules, sand or vermiculite
  • Alternatively lean spiked or unit earth, mixed with fine-grained, mineral components
At the latest in October, Astrophytum enter their winter break. You should now relocate to a bright, cool room with temperatures of 8-10 degrees Celsius.
Pouring and fertilizing
An exemplary water and nutrient balance for cacti is structured in two parts. From March to September, water the cacti abundantly, with the substratum necessarily drying between waterings. By May you will gradually increase the amount, while this is to be reduced from September. From November you water your Astrophytum only so much that they do not dry up. A special cactus fertilizer contains all the important nutrients. These are given every 14 days from March to August. During the winter break is not fertilized.
Among the cactus plants Astrophytum exert a fascinating attraction. With phenomenally shaped plant bodies and an impressive flower, you arouse in the hobby gardener the great collecting passion. The sowing is a little tricky; with the right guidance, of course, to master well. In terms of care, the desert cacti require little from the gardener.

Video Board: How to grow Astrophytum from seeds? Germination period, seedlings care.

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