Propagated Astrophytum Plants and Seeds
Astrophytum cacti use to be included in other kinds of cacti, but eventually became a distinct generic. The native habitat for Astrophytum is a little part of southern Texas and mostly in northern Mexico growing usually in mountainous regions.
This group is considered to be kinds of globular plants, but some older plants of Astrophytum ornatum become more columnar and can get around 3 feet tall. These cacti remain single stem plants, and as house plants they tend to remain small and grow slowly. The blooms are bright yellow funnels and a few plants may produce flowers have red throats. They can bloom as houseplants if they get enough sun, and they have some of the most interesting skin in the globular cactus world.
These cacti produce small white dots on the skin with growth patterns ranging from a few random specks to covering the entire plant. These dots can grow in interesting symmetrical patterns, and these patterns on their skin are called fleck or flocking. Flocking patterns vary making each individual plant very unique, but plants with little or no frocking are treasured for their beauty too. Some Astrophytum can be covered in white frocking so fully that they resemble rocks. Individual plants in the same species can appear varied enough to interest a person in growing lots of them from seeds just to see how they look. Frocking gives Astrophytum a beauty that seems to appeal to plant lovers, and spines or lack of spines can be another interesting trait.
The name Astrophytum means star plant the species asterias and myriostigma are very much the inspiration of the name. These plants have felt growing where their spines would be giving the surface of the plants rows of white fuzzy dots. They are some of the most unique plants with their; frocking patterns, felt dots, and symmetrical star like shapes. Individual plants in a species can vary in appearance from one another in ways more extreme than most other cactus species. Beyond their uniqueness as individuals they can turn up with a lot of variation when they are propagated. There are perhaps hundreds to thousands of variations on Astrophytum grown in cultivation, because variations in appearance often occur when plants are grown from seeds. Unusual form of Astrophytum are grown all over the world, and even thought there are only about 4 species in the wild these cacti can be found growing in a vast range of appearances in cultivation.
In cultivation Astrophytum do need special care because their growing conditions in nature are different from the watering practices we humans are use to giving most house plants. They are vulnerable to fungal infections and live in habitats where winters are dry, and it's important to treat them in a way similar to their habitat. For 3 to 4 months during the winter keep their growing medium completely dry, and this will do a great deal of good in preventing the plants from rotting.
The Astrophytum generic has a reputation as a limestone lover because they frequently grow in these kinds of areas. However, please do not put limestone in their growing medium, because it will do more harm than good. Don't even use limestone to top off these cacti, but instead soil can be topped off with a PH neutral coral supply found in pet stores.
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