Astrophytum caput-medusae D. R. Hunt
Astrophytum caput-medusae is an unusual cactus with a cylindrical and very reduced stem and long, green, usually cylindrical or triangular tubercles almost completely covered with tiny greyish-white hairs. The tubercles are up to 7.6 inches (19 cm) long. Flowers are diurnal, yellow with an orange center, and appear in fall. Fruits are green, fleshy when young, covered with lanceolate scales, and woolly in the axil.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Astrophytums are not vigorous plants, requiring a lot of patience to reach their full potential. Keep regularly watering and feeding them during the growing season and repot annually to give them space to develop. They need a temperate, dry winter, and make sure not to overwater them to avoid rotting their roots. They will develop marvelous flowers if given sufficient care once they reach maturity. Watch out for common cactus pests like aphids and scale, as well. These can often be taken care of by a good eco-friendly pesticide or simply wiped away with a cloth.
Repot regularly to help them develop. Astrophytums should be repotted at the beginning of the growing season for best results, allowing them to grow into the impressive specimens for which the genus is known. Protect your hands before repotting due to their stiff spikes. Lift the plant out at once, then replace it in a larger pot and backfill the soil. Don't overwater or overfeed newly repotted cacti, as disturbances can be complicated for them.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Astrophytum.
This species is native to northern Mexico.
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