By now we’re pretty confident you know a lot of succulents and cacti, unless you’re new here! Stick around, you’ll learn a lot.
Though we’ve brought a lot of knowledge to our community about succulents, we’re lacking a bit in the cactus department, there is still a lot to talk about in terms of the available species. Really, there’s just as many cacti as the larger succulent group. And the star cactus is a proud member here.
The Star Cactus—Astrophytum Asterias
As with many cacti, the Star Cactus is part of the cactaceae family similar to the very interesting brain cactus we’ve written about before. Further down classification, this cactus is a member of the Astrophytum genus, whose members are cherished for their flowering property. Every plant lover likes a beautiful flower from time to time right?
In the botanical world, the Star Cactus is referred to as Astrophytum Asterias. In common terms, it has quite a number of names apart from the one above, see them below.
- Star Peyote
- Sand Dollar Cactus
- Sea Urchin Cactus
Origin of the Star Cactus
Just like most cacti, the Star Cactus is endemic to… can you guess?
Characteristics of the Star Cactus
Star Cacti are small round plants with the height usually ranging from 1 to 2 inches and the diameter being anywhere from 2 all the way to 6 inches. The plant is usually green in color with an occasional tinge of brown on some.
The whole globular stem is a ribbed structure with the number of ridges being as many as 10, sometimes more. Each rib is dotted with white hairy areoles.
The flowers are yellow with a combination of other colors – orange and red – that take up the centers and the bases respectively. These blooms typically appear in between the months of March and May.
In late spring, these flowers turn into oval woolly berries that can be green, gray, pink or reddish.
How to Take Care of the Star Cactus
Being a succulent, the Star Cactus can do just fine with minimal care like most succulent houseplants out there. Even when your plant nurturing abilities are just catching on, you’re sure to be fine with this jewel.
Have a look at the little things you need to do for a nice Star Cactus plant thriving in your home.
The star Cactus is quite hardy, as far as how low the temperatures can get. This baby can brace readings as low as 20°F ( -6.7°C). The higher limit for its survival is 50°F (10°C).
Light Requirements for the Star Cactus
Sunlight is a favorite among many cacti, it’s no wonder they thrive in the desert right? The Star Cactus especially loves the beaming sun light too.
Give your plant a few hours of direct sunlight on a daily basis and see it smile at you. In case your home cannot provide enough direct sunlight, check out indoor LED plant lights, like this one from Amazon perfect for smaller cacti like this.
Soil and Fertilizing Necessities
A well-draining soil mix is important for growing a healthy Star Cactus. A poorly drained one like the regular soil mix is a sure way of inviting rot. Though traditional plant soil is great, it’s not too healthy for cacti or succulents, since they thrive in different climates, their soil requirement is a tad different.
We highly suggest going for a quality commercial cactus and succulent mix— we’ve been recommending this one a lot and it’s been making the growing of our readers’ succulents and cacti much easier. This dries up in the required timeframe to give the roots the very much needed breathing space, something that traditional soil does not do.
Alternatively, fixing up your own well-draining mix is a viable option too, we’ve written a full article about it here or continue reading! Throw together parts of regular potting soil, pumice (perlite is great too) and coarse sand. Make sure the end product is the real deal by wetting and squeezing it. Coarse and crumby, that’s exactly what we’re looking for!
For fertilizing, supply your plant with a diluted houseplant fertilizer during the growing season (June to September). Forget about fertilizing during winter.
For some extra help on creating your own succulent soil at home, check out our helpful tips here!
Watering the Star Cactus
Water may be an essential compound of life, but for the Star Cactus, it’s significance isn’t as much – that’s to say, compared to your average houseplant.
That is to say, you’ll still need to water your cactus but the number of times will be way much less. Depending on the environmental conditions in your area, 2-4 weeks apart is fine.
Essentially, you’ll want to water when the top part of the potting mix is dry. You can dig in with a finger to ascertain this.
During winter, cut back further on this watering as the plant is mainly dormant. Once or twice watering for the whole of the cold season will serve the plant just right.
How to Propagate the Star Cactus
The Star Cactus has one sole propagation method: seeds— here’s some inexpensive seeds we’ve used to grow some in the office. One thing you have to note is that the seeds need to be planted as soon they’re harvested to boost the chances of them forming new plants. Be quick!
Fill up a seed flat, like this one with an endless amount of cells, with well-aerated soil and cast the seeds. Remember to keep the soil moist from germination up to the point when they’re ready for transplanting – ideally half an inch tall.
When the sprouts are apparent, move them to a well-lit spot. Beware though! Don’t let them come into contact with the afternoon sun, provide some shade once in a while.
Also, overhead watering is a no-no. Settle for wetting the soil to avoid damaging the tender young star cacti. You can use a watering bottle like this to ensure you’re not damaging you’re precious cactus.
Repotting the Star Cactus
Repotting is a mandatory activity— at least if you cherish a nicely growing plant, and who doesn’t? Everyone, including plants, need a new home once in a while!
In 2-4 years, repot your star cactus to a new pot, like these unique stone pots, that matches its size requirements. This gives the roots an abundant access to fresh air. The whole plant will sing you a song for that.
Just be sure to repot at the beginning of a growing season and give the plant some time before you start the regular watering and fertilizing.
Need some tips on repotting your cactus plant correctly, we’ve helped a lot of readers here, be sure to comment if it helps you too!
The Star Cactus’ Enemies & Potential Problems
The star cactus is likely to be attacked by the common cacti-loving insects around like mealybugs, mites and scale.
Many succulents and houseplants in general are prone to pests of all sorts. Continue reading so you can defeat these pests for the health of your star cactus. We can’t let these bugs win all the time!
Usually show up as white tiny fuzzy looking things – more like small cotton wool balls. They slowly diminish the plants vigor by sucking its sap like a vampire.
On the bright side they don’t take much to get rid of.
Just spray your plant with a jet of water and… off they’ll go. Alternatively, rubbing alcohol and water can do it. Use a piece of cotton to apply this mixture on the affected areas. If you’re interested, more details on how to defeat mealybugs here, we’ve actually helped hundreds of people already.
In addition to sucking on the sap, mealybugs can also munch on your plant’s roots in the worst case. Here, you’ll notice the plant becoming unhealthy even when everything appears to be fine above the surface. Of course we’ll have to remove the plant from the potting mix and check the roots. If you notice the tiny beings, give the roots a good shower and repot in a new pot (or wash the previous one thoroughly) using fresh potting mix.
The fact that they’re attracted to the same conditions as cacti makes them particularly a troublesome lot. And they’re quite good at playing hide and seek, so you may not be able to notice them until your plant has been hit hard. Brown patches are a sure sign of their presence.
To kick them off, just use the wash technique above or give them a dose of rubbing alcohol mixed with water. It will serve them right!
Unwanted Scale Bugs
Scale bugs typically have a tough outer covering and hide beneath it as they munch on your cactus. And they can’t be washed off as easily like the two pests above. You have to go at them on a one-by-one basis using good ol’ rubbing alcohol and water.
Avoiding Root Rot in Star Cacti
This is a sure problem if the plant is getting too much water or the soil mix isn’t draining fast enough. Which is why we stress the importance of a high quality draining soil mix like we mentioned above. Here it is again if you need it for reference.
So, be sure to check on how much you’re watering and what type of soil mix you’re using to avert this.
Where Can I Buy the Star Cactus?
With the immense popularity of succulents, and the Star Cactus itself, having your own plant is as easy as walking into your local nursery. They’re sure to have it.
Or you can have the babies delivered to you by placing an order online. There are so many online stores that deal in succulents and looking up star cactus is going to yield all you want. Start off with the following:
- Mountain Crest Garden
- Succulent Box
- Leaf and Clay
What do you think? Looking to add these little gems to your cactus garden? Show us your photos in our exclusive Facebook group, Succulent City Plant Lounge!
Also if you don’t know yet, as we continue to collaborate with Amazon.com, we’re able to offer 2 free audible books to our readers when signing up through here. Our office is filled with people listening to their books rather than music (although music is nice sometimes). Let us know what books you decide to listen too!
Happy planting! ?