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small cactacea, native to Central America. It has a globular shape, which with the age of the plant tends to become slightly elongated; adult specimens can reach 10-15 cm in height; the stem is green or blue-green in color, and shows clear tubercles from which numerous thorns branch off, which almost completely cover the plant. The thorns of the astraococactus are generally clear, with a hooked shape. Between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, at the apex of the plant, small green, yellow or red flowers bloom. The flowers are followed by small oval fruits, which contain some fertile seeds. These plants have a very slow growth and are very difficult to grow. Farmers often graft the ancistrocactus, also called Sclerocactus, on faster-growing plants, to make them more vigorous and to develop them more quickly.
they are grown in a partially shady place, but can enjoy a few hours a day of direct sunlight. They do not fear the cold very much and can easily withstand temperatures even below zero, as long as they are in a place sheltered from humidity and wind. Usually they are grown in a cold greenhouse during the winter months.
these succulents develop with great ease root and collar rot, for this reason it is advisable to water them with great parsimony; generally from April to September the soil is only limited when it has been perfectly dry for at least 7-10 days, and every 15-20 days, always checking that the substratum is dry and trying to keep the pots in a place not affected by the weather. During the cold months watering is avoided completely, especially for specimens grown in cold greenhouses. It seems that winter cultivation in places with temperatures below 5 ° C favors an abundant flowering.
a compound is used for a very loose and drained succulent, consisting of a part of peat soil, a part of sand and a part of lapillus or pumice stone, with not too large a grain size. The growth of ancistrocactus is very slow, so it is not necessary to repot them too often. Many species develop a stocky taproot, remember to find space for this root system in a suitable container.
these plants do not branch and hardly clump, so we can only propagate them by seed, since we will not have raw material for cuttings. The seeds are placed on the surface of a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts, which must be kept fairly wet until the seeds are germinated.
Ancistrocactus: Parasites and diseases
they are easily affected by collar and root rot.