Aztekium ritteri: Care and Propagation Guide
Aztekium ritteri is native and endemic to parts of Mexico, mainly the state of Nuevo León. It is also referred to as Peyotillo throughout Mexico. This cactus is quite small and tends to bear globe-like stems with multiple ribs that tend to give this cactus a strange shape.
The ribs tend to bear a few spines along their edges. The flowers bloom forth from the tip of this cactus stem and are usually small and pink or white in color.
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How to Care for Aztekium ritteri
Although mainly native to a small part of the world, it is possible to source and grow Aztekium ritteri on your own. Taking care of the following conditions and elements can help keep your plant healthy.
Aztekium ritteri enjoys bright sunlight, although it is important to ensure that this light reaches the plant in a filtered and indirect manner. Too much direct sunlight can scorch the plant and prevent its growth, especially since Aztekium ritteri is a slow grower anyway.
You should ideally place Aztekium ritteri in a place where it receives sunlight in the morning and shade for the rest of the afternoon.
Aztekium ritteri plants tend to grow in the months of spring and summer and become dormant in the late fall and winter months. You should adjust your watering routine accordingly, providing enough water in the growing season and no water at all in the period of dormancy.
Water the plant only when the soil becomes bone dry and then soak the plant in water during the next watering session. Do not let the water pool in the soil as this could rot the roots.
The soil that you use for Aztekium ritteri should be extremely loose and gritty so that it can drain all the extra water out. You can buy a cactus mix from the store and add sand, loam, pebbles and stones to loosen it up unless it already has these elements. Avoid alkaline soil and keep the soil pH neutral.
Of course, this is not a matter of concern if you are grafting the cactus with another mature cactus.
If you can find a fertilizer made specifically for cacti, you should make use of it once at the start of the growing season to give your Aztekium ritteri plant a boost, followed by a monthly feeding routine until the growing season ends.
Use a diluted fertilizer here to maintain the rate of growth of the plant so that you do not end up altering the natural growth cycle too much.
Aztekium ritteri grows best in warm climates with enough sunlight. However, it should not get too hot and bright as this can damage the plant, which is why it can be better to grow this plant indoors where you can regulate and maintain the temperatures better.
This cactus is hardy up to USDA zones 10-11. In winter, make sure the plant remains in an area where the temperature remains above 40℉ or around 5℃.
Pests and Diseases
Apart from root rot, diseases are relatively rare in Aztekium ritteri plants, although improper care conditions can sometimes result in diseased and damaged plants. It is possible to completely avoid pests and insects on these plants if you maintain the aforementioned care conditions.
Nevertheless, you should watch out for some pests like mealybugs and spider mites as these can damage the stems and roots.
Pruning is not a major requirement when it comes to Aztekium ritteri. This is because the cactus grows merely in the form of a singular clump, not to mention that the growth rate is quite slow as well. This can take away any chances of the plant growing too big and wild in your house.
The flowers also typically wither and die out on their own after the blooming season ends.
Potting and Repotting
You can use any kind of pot or container as long as it comes with a drainage hole. If you are grafting Aztekium ritteri, you can simply make use of the same pot that the mature plant grows in.
Repotting is not a requirement here since the plant will barely require it due to its slow growth rate.
Propagating Aztekium ritteri
You can either make use of stem cuttings from a parent plant or seeds to grow Aztekium ritteri. To use seeds, you can keep them in a germination tray and then sow them in the soil to ensure growth, although this process is bound to be extremely slow, often taking 2-4 years just for the establishment of the first forms of growth.
If you want to use cuttings, you should first dip them in a rooting hormone and sow them in the soil. However, this is also bound to be tough and slow, especially since rooting can take longer. Another more convenient method is to graft the cuttings to a mature plant or any other cactus before establishing them as a separate plant.
You can then continue to care for the plant with the relevant conditions and needs.