If you admire uniquely shaped plants, you’d love to add the Star cactus to your collection.
We have put together everything you need to know about Star cacti, from their varieties to growing and caring tips and potential problems.
Star cacti, also commonly known as Astrophytum Asteria, are found in the North American regions (Mexico and south-western America).
Its name comes from its star-like shape and ribbed appearance. The Star cactus grows much slower than other plants.
Hence, it is also referred to as a “living rock.” Adding the Star cactus to your plant collection is worth it as it is beautiful.
Types of Star Cacti
Star cacti come in different sizes and colors; some are short, while others are tall. Their colors range from greens to grays. Here are some common varieties of the Start cacti you should know about:
- Bishop’s Hat
- Goat’s Hort Cactus
- Sea Urchin Cactus or Sand Dollar Cactus
- Hood Cactus
Star Cactus: Growing and Potting Tips
Growing and repotting the Star cactus is relatively easy. If you are looking to grow, pot, or report yourself Star Cactus, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Growing the Star Cactus
If you want to grow the Star cactus, you can do so by collecting seeds from dried flowers since the Star cacti only propagate by seeds.
The seeds need to be handled with care as they are pretty fragile. Once you get the seeds, plant them as soon as possible as they don’t have a long shelf-life.
Pro tip: Soak the seeds overnight for the best results, increasing the chances of growing a healthy Star Cactus.
For beginners, the Star cactus may be challenging to grow; however, if you take care of a few simple steps, you can do it!
Follow the step below to grow your Star cactus:
- In the first step, take some cactus potting mix and spread it over a tray. Next, broadcast the seeds collected from dried flowers over the mixture. You can also purchase these seeds from a local nursery.
- Lightly cover the seed with potting medium and spray some water to moisten the soil.
Pro tip: sealing the tray with plastic will help seal the moisture to create optimal growing conditions. The step allows you to create a greenhouse effect.
- To promote growth, place the tray in an area with sufficient sunlight; the average temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Mist the soil occasionally to keep the soil moist.
- Start cacti are known to grow slowly, so the key is to remain patient as it may take a few weeks until the seedlings start to show.
- Once the seedling starts to appear, remove the plastic and gradually increase the amount of direct sunlight exposure to your cactus plant.
- After a few weeks, you can transplant the Star cactus seedlings into pots or containers. The potting container should contain a good quality cactus potting mix.
Potting and Repotting the Star Cactus
To assure that your Star cactus has reached maturity, you must repot it more frequently than most plants. You should report the Star cactus at the start of every growing season. Here is how to do it:
- Before starting the repotting process, you must ensure that the soil is not moist, as this would reduce the shock the plant receives when it is being transferred into its new home. Using a clay or terracotta pot with sufficient drain holes is recommended. The new pot should be larger than the previous one.
- Put on a pair of sturdy gloves to remove the cactus from its pot. Once you have successfully taken the Star cactus out of its pot, remove the excess dirt from its roots to fully expose the root ball.
- Next, partially fill the new pot with cactus potting mix and place the Star cactus into it. Then, add more dirt on top to gently secure the plant in the pot.
- Don’t water the Star cactus immediately after repotting. You can water it after a few days once it has fully acclimated into its new home. The transferring process can be hard on the cactus; hence, it needs to be given a while to adapt to the new pot.
- Allow the water to drain completely and wait for some time before adding the fertilizer.
How to Care for a Star Cactus
Like most cacti, the Star cactus is a relatively low-maintenance plant with some basic light, temperature, humidity, soil, and water requirements. Here is a care guide to ensure the best growth for your cactus:
Light Requirements of the Star Cactus
The Star cactus love the beaming light and require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily to do well.
If you have potted your cactus indoors, you can ensure that it receives sufficient sunlight by placing it next to a sunny west or south-facing window.
You can create artificial light using LED plant lights if your house does not receive adequate daylight.
Soil Requirements of the Star Cactus
To create optimal growing conditions for your cactus, you must ensure that the soil is well-drained, sandy, and porous, as waterlogged soils invite root rotting.
You can add organic material to your soil to retain moisture.
Moreover, you must also ensure that the soil’s pH level is between 5 and 6.5 (acidic soil conditions) since the Star cactus does not do well in alkaline soils.
Fertilizer Requirements of the Star Cactus
Unlike other plants, the Star cactus thrives in poor soil conditions and has minimal fertilizer needs.
During the plant’s growing season, a 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer is recommended.
You can add the fertilizer once a month between June to September.
Dilute the fertilizer to half strength. Do not fertilize the plant as it prepares for dormancy.
Watering Needs of the Star Cactus
Since the Star cactus is a desert plant, it requires very little water and humidity.
Water it once a month when the soil has completely dried out.
You can assume that the soil has completely dried out by digging a finger into it to check the moisture level. Watering the plant is not recommended during the winter months.
Ideal Temperature and Humidity for the Star Cactus
The Star cactus does not do well in highly humid conditions as it may lead to root rotting. Hence it would be best if you placed it in less humid areas.
Although the Star Cactus prefers warm temperatures, it can survive occasional short bursts of temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The higher limit for its survival is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Winter Care for the Star Cactus
If you are growing the Star cactus outdoors, it requires minimal care in the winters.
This cactus does not need any water in its dormancy period, so avoid watering it during this time.
It would be best to start watering in spring when the new growth is visible.
However, if the Star cactus is placed indoors, the ideal place to place it would be in a room that receives sufficient indirect sunlight during the day and is cool and dry.
In winter, you should water your indoor Star Cactus once a month and avoid adding fertilizers altogether.
Potential Problems and Pest
Like all plants, the Star cactus has its fair share of pest problems that you need to keep an eye out for.
Pests like aphids, mealy bugs, and scales can cause enormous problems for your Star cactus.
However, the good news is that they can easily be identified on the plant.
You can get rid of them quickly, especially once you have spotted them in time.
Using a gardening hose, you can get rid of these bugs by blasting your Star cactus.
For a permanent solution to pest and bug infestations, spray eco-friendly pesticides or a mixture of horticultural soap and water.
This solution would suffocate the bugs. Next, use a damp cloth to wipe them away.
To treat this issue, spray the soap mixture on a cotton pad and rub it directly on the Star cactus.
The Star cactus is also vulnerable to bacteria and fungus infections.
One of the most common indications of an infected Star cactus is the appearance of soft spots.
To treat your plants, make a solution using eco-friendly liquid soap, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide by dissolving it in water.
Next, spray the solution directly onto the cactus.
However, it would help if you kept in mind that this remedy does not work for severe infections.
Apart from pests and insects, there are a few plant diseases that you need to be wary of.
Root and time rotting are the most common ones faced by the Star cactus.
Waterlogged soils and overwatering are among the most common causes of root rotting.
If you suspect root rot, you can remove the affected roots and repot your cactus with a fresh potting mixture.
Always keep your pot well-drained and avoid overwatering it.
If you detect these issues and time, your cactus will return to its normal health in no time.
We hope you have a great time growing and caring for your Star Cactus!