Astrophytum - cactus family of Cactaceae. It is often called "Starfish" by the incredible similarity to the resident of the sea. The genus contains 10 species. Astrophytum prefers to grow on the rocky slopes of mountain. Geographical location of the plant has South America, Texas, Mexico. Cactus got its name from the merger of two words star «aster» and the plant «phytum». Its form is right star.
There are several kinds of Astrophytum. You can distinguish from the other representatives of the number side, is usually 5 or 8.
The epidermis is densely covered with halos. Seeds are large. It resembles the shape of a seashell. Fauces on flowers is completely covered with red and yellow fleece with small fibers. The fetus is revealed from the middle.
The stem has a surface which is covered with pink dots. Cream points are composed of many small fibers. Its flowering period is spring - summer, depending on the species. Some varieties of Astrophytum have sharp spikes, while others are soft or absent.
The stem is a large, green and dark green color with 5-8 sides. It blooms light yellow or yellow flowers up to 8 cm in diameter. All flowers are arranged on the top of the plant. Appearance Astrophytum changes from habitats, climate and soil. This makes it possible to grow new hybrid forms.
For reproduction gardeners are self-pollinating flowers or natural. Astrophytum is very popular among plant breeders. From of one sort of flower, you can easily grow a several hybrids. But you should know how to properly care for the plant to comply with the rules of watering, climate and lighting.
Gardeners pollinate the flower to reproduce artificially or naturally. Astrophytum is very popular among plant breeders. From of one sort of flower, you can easily grow a several hybrids. But you must follow the rules of watering, climate and lighting for the proper care of the plant.
The most of cacti have a similarity with the sea inhabitants, so frequently encountered their names, "sea urchin", "the miter of Bishop." It is very difficult to grow adult Astrophytums especially certain kinds.
Often the plant dies, for unknown reasons, or its growth slows down considerably. The flowering period lasts a few days, and then the flowers fade. But the main advantage of a cactus is not flowering. Gardeners prefer it to unusual decorative forms.
Cactus prefers a bright diffused light. During the summer, direct sunlight can cause burns on the leaf surface. Some varieties Astrophytum are able to partially withstand direct sunlight, but first it gradually accustomed to the bright sun. Astrophytum prefers western and eastern windows. In the summer, we recommend a pot put on the outside at night, but the flower protect from rain and wind.
Astrophytum is well tolerated in the hot climate of the period of active growth. Comfortable temperature in home conditions is 71-82 °F (22-28 degrees). Astrophytum is preparing for a period of rest from October. During this period the temperature was gradually lowered to 50-60°F (10-14 degrees).
Some representatives of a sort wintering at a temperature of 35-40°F (2-4 degrees), but you need to abide by the terms watering and humidity. Cactus watering is very rare. Humidity should be moderate.
A correct watering for Astrophytum cactus is the main and important point. Not permitted to overdo it with water or watered too few.
Astrophytum In the summer watered sparingly. The soil must be completely saturated with moisture. Then substratum must dry out well. Cactus in the vegetation period during the day stops their growth. Actively feeding begins at nightfall. Therefore is watered in the morning or in the evening after 18:00.
Gardeners often use bottom watering because the soil can strongly compacted and root are rotting. From autumn to spring watering completely stopped and the temperature was lowered to 50-54°F (10-12 degrees).
Astrophytum in the winter is at rest, but there is an exception. If the plant is slightly subsidence, and the contour around the stem escalated, gardeners resumed watering of a cactus. The temperature is raised to 57°F (14 degrees). In the spring is watered carefully, gradually increasing the dose of water. It is watered with warm water.
Cactus is not fastidious to the special requirements of humidity of the room. It normally grows in dry climates, if the pre absorb a sufficient amount of moisture.
The plant does not need to spray all over the year.
The composition of the soil
Astrophytum prefers stony and sandy soils. You can use the ready-made land for a cactus or make your own composition. You need to take: turf (part 1) and ground sheet (part 1), 1 part peat, sand and gravel 0.5 of each. After adding a little bit of broken brick and pounded charcoal.
Astrophytum transplanted only when necessary. The fragile roots difficult to take roots and plant often die. The flower is transplanted if the roots are not placed in the pot.
Before planting the cactus, to the bottom of the pot is placed a layer of expanded clay or broken bricks to remove excess moisture from the roots. Decorative stones are laid on top of the ground otherwise a pretornal neck of the plant will begin to rot.
Plants are transplanted in the spring as soon as it wakes up and starts to grow. This is evident by the external coloring of cactus. It`s surface is gaining luster. Gardeners often make the transshipment of roots in a pot slightly larger than the previous.
The roots carefully move with the earth in another pot. If you damage the roots, they grow back very long time. The plant before transplanting not watered for several days. It transplanted from dry in the dry substrate. The first time watered after one week.
Adult cacti transplanted every 5 years.
The plant is fertilized once in month in the period of active growth. Fertilizers are used to cactus but with a weak concentration. Beginning in the fall Astrophytum feed stop. The high concentration of mineral fertilizers in the soil condition worsens it.
Astrophytum multiplies only by seed. The germination is fairly high.
Seeds are sown in the spring. The substrate consists of a sheet of soil, sand and milled charcoal. All components are taken in equal proportions.
The soil is moistened before sowing. Seeds be soaked in warm water and be soaked in a weak solution of potassium permanganate for several minutes. Then the seeds laid on the paper to partial drying. Seeds are sprinkled a little bit ground after planting.
From above is covered with a glass flask, or is placed in small greenhouse. The temperature should be 70°F (20 degrees). Regularly remove the flask for ventilation, and is moistened the soil. A week later, the first shoots will begin to appear. Soil are watered moderately only after its drying topsheet. The overabundance of moisture is harmful to children.
The seedlings dive into individual pots as soon as they get stronger.
Pests and difficulties Care
Improper care of Astrophytum leads to the appearance pest: Quadraspidiotus perniciosus, mealybug. They are destroyed with a solution of the insecticide. But beforehand the soil is covered with plastic wrap. Dried plant parts are cut and sprinkled with charcoal.
Quadraspidiotus perniciosus damage the cactus most commonly. On the surface of the stems appear brown dots. Pests drink the juice from the stalks. The stems gradually fade.
Astrophytum fastidious in the care and often die for no apparent reason. For novice gardeners are not recommended to buy Astrophytum.
The main difficulties faced by the growers:
- Brown soft spots - mold at lower part of plant. The primary reason is too abundant watering, especially at low temperatures. The soil is dense enough and unable to miss the excess moisture well.
- Brown spots appear on the surface of the leaves - is a consequence of burns from direct sunlight. The plant gradually accustom to bright sun.
- The bright spots on its surface - is damaged by pests or poor-quality water with a high concentration of lime, or lack of watering and low temperature during the vegetation period.
- Cactus is irregularly shaped and elongated stems - an insufficient light or high temperature in the room.
- Astrophytum cactus grows very slowly. Growth is stopped if you keep it at a temperature of 10 degrees or below. In summer the plant is stopped growth during the daytime and is activated at nightfall. Maybe the soil is too dry in summer and too wet in winter.