The Sand Dollar Cactus is known for its scientific name Astrophytum asterias. It is known for its other names, including sea urchin cactus, star cactus, or star peyote because of its appearance. The exotic look of this succulent plant makes it very popular with collectors, but its huge demand is one of the reasons why its population is dwindling nowadays.
The Sand Dollar Cactus is native to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and northern Mexico. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the plant started becoming popular to collectors as early as the mid-1800s. However, the overcollection of the succulent, as well as overgrazing and fire suppression measures, have contributed to its scarcity.
The succulent is characterized by its flat and dome-shaped features. It is a green spineless cactus that can grow up to 15 cm in diameter. The plant has white hairs dividing its sections or stems giving it an appearance similar to a pumpkin or sea urchin. With proper care, growers of the succulents are rewarded with 3-5 cm yellow flowers that have red to orange highlights between March and May.
Like most succulents, the Sand Dollar Cactus is easy to propagate and maintain. It can be grown using its seeds or offsets.
1. Using Seeds
Start by spreading the seeds on a tray and wrap the container with a plastic cover on top. The cover will help maintain the moisture and heat of the seeds. In addition, this keeps them away from pests. After that, acclimate the seeds under direct sunlight for a few weeks before transferring them to a container partially filled potting mix.
Propagating the plant via its seeds can be challenging though because the seeds are quite fragile and have a short shelf life. Therefore, they should be replanted as quickly as possible after harvesting.
Be patient if you have chosen to grow the Sand Dollar Cactus through seeds because it usually takes years until they develop into flowering plants.
2. Using Offsets
An easier method of propagating the Sand Dollar Cactus is through its offsets. These are basically the small clumps that have similar features as the parent plant.
Begin by simply separating the offset with the mother plant by cutting the lateral stem connecting them near the roots. See to it that the cutting tool you are using has been sterilized properly to prevent bacterial or fungal infection in the open wound of the plant. Be careful when removing the offset, too, so its roots won’t be damaged.
Upon the separation of the offset from the mother plant, just repot the former in a container that’s partly filled with potting mix.
The Sand Dollar Cactus does not require too much water to survive. Thus, water it only when its soil is already dry to the touch, or when the color of its stem starts getting lighter. Also, ensure that the pot you are using has small holes at the bottom to serve as drainage of excess water to avoid soaking the roots of the succulent, which may lead to overwatering and rotting.
As a responsible plant parent, make sure that you source your succulents, especially the endangered ones, from legal sellers so you won’t be contributing to their extinction. Here at Cal Farms, we only get our products from legitimate sources. Therefore, if you are looking to add more succulent plants into your collection, feel free to chat or Contact Us to send in your inquiries or orders.