small cacti, originally from 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, and shows obvious tubercles from which depart many spines, which almost completely cover the plant. The thorns of the ancistrocactus are usually pale, of hooked shape.
Between the end of winter and the beginning of spring, at the apex of the plant, some small flowers, of green, yellow or red colour, bloom. The flowers are followed by small oval fruits, which contain some fertile seeds. These plants grow very slowly and it is very difficult for them to grow up. Often growers graft the ancistrocactus, also called Sclerocactus, onto faster growing plants, to make them more vigorous and to develop them more quickly.
they are grown in a partially shady place, but which enjoys a few hours a day of direct sunlight. They are not very afraid of the cold weather and can easily bear temperatures even below zero, provided that they are in a place sheltered from humidity and wind. Usually they are grown in cold green houses during the winter months.
these succulent plants easily develop root and collar rot, which is why it is advisable to water them very sparingly; usually from April to September the soil should be thinned only when it has been perfectly dry for at least 7-10 days, and should be treated every 15-20 days, always checking that the substrate is dry and trying to keep the pots in a place not affected by the weather.
During the cold months, watering is to be avoided completely, especially for the specimens cultivated in cold greenhouses. It seems that the winter cultivation in a place with temperatures below 5°C favours an abundant flowering.
a very loose and drained succulent compost is used, consisting of a part of peat mould, a part of sand and a part of lapillus or pumice stone, not too large in size. The growth of the ancistrocactus is very slow, therefore 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 grow, so we can propagate them only 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 is to be kept quite humid till the germination of the seeds.
Ancistrocactus: Pests and diseases
are easily affected by root and collar rot.