This Weird-Looking Aztekium valdezii Cactus Will Blow Your Mind

Get ready to meet one of the strangest and most alien-looking plants on planet Earth – the Aztekium valdezii cactus! This bizarre succulent, native to a small region in Mexico, looks like it was plucked straight out of a sci-fi movie. With its globular shape, green-gray color, and neat horizontal ridges lined with spines, it resembles some kind of exotic creature more than a cactus. But don’t let its peculiar appearance fool you – the Aztekium valdezii is very much a real, living plant that you can actually grow at home. Keep reading to find out just how weirdly wonderful this thing truly is!

aztekium valdezii

About Aztekium valdezii

The Aztekium valdezii gets its unusual looks from having a single, round stem covered in 5 vertical ribs that further divide into many smaller horizontal ridges. Tiny brown spines poke out along the ribs, adding to its otherworldly vibe. At the stem’s tip, it produces white and lilac flowers during its blooming season. Amazingly, some specimens over 6 inches (15 cm) across could be well over 100 years old!

This freaky little cactus is native to just one small area in Mexico called Rancho Guadalupe. It’s considered quite rare in the wild due to over-collecting, though it’s possible to find legally propagated plants for sale. With its very slow growth rate, the Aztekium valdezii is the perfect, low-maintenance succulent for patient plant parents who want something totally unique.

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How to Care for Aztekium valdezii

Looking after an Aztekium valdezii is pretty straightforward as long as you follow a few simple rules. Let’s go over the ideal care needs for keeping this bizarre beauty happy and healthy at home!


The Aztekium valdezii craves lots of bright light, but too much direct sun can actually burn its delicate skin. Aim to give it 4-6 hours of direct morning sunlight when possible, followed by bright, filtered light in the afternoon. A sunny window facing east or west is ideal, or you can use a grow light if natural light is limited.


Like most cacti, the Aztekium valdezii needs a very well-draining soil mix to avoid rot. A good quality cactus potting mix amended with extra grit like perlite or pumice works perfectly. Steer clear of moisture-retaining mixes or garden soil, which can easily become too compacted and waterlogged.


During its spring and summer growing season, allow the Aztekium valdezii’s soil to fully dry out before deeply watering again. A deep soaking is better than light, frequent waterings which can cause rot. In winter when the plant is dormant, stop watering completely until you see new growth resuming in spring.

aztekium valdezii


For an extra growth boost, feed your Aztekium valdezii a balanced cactus fertilizer at the start of its growing period in spring. Then you can provide a very diluted dose once a month through summer to replace nutrients gently used up by the plant.


The Aztekium valdezii appreciates warm conditions between 65-85°F (18-29°C) during its active growing months, cooling down to around 50°F (10°C) for its winter dormancy. It can’t tolerate freezing temps below 40°F (4°C), so bring it indoors if nighttime lows drop too far.

Pests and Problems

The weird and wonderful Aztekium valdezii is remarkably free of major pest and disease issues when properly cared for. Its slow growth habit and drought-tolerant nature make it fairly resistant to common houseplant pests and problems. However, you’ll still want to keep an eye out for:

  • Mealybugs – These cotton-like insects can cluster in the crevices and ridges, damaging the plant as they suck out moisture.
  • Spider Mites – Tiny spider-like mites can spin webs and cause stunting and discoloration if populations get out of control.
  • Rot – Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root and stem rot, causing mushy brown spots and decay.

The best defense is providing the right environment for your Aztekium valdezii. Allow soil to fully dry, use a well-draining potting mix, and ensure abundant airflow around the plant.


Since the Aztekium valdezii forms just a single bulbous stem, there’s virtually no need for pruning this unique succulent. Its naturally slow growth rate means it won’t be busting out of its pot anytime soon. Any spent flowers can simply be left to dry up and fall off on their own after blooming finishes.

aztekium valdezii

Potting and Repotting

The potting needs for Aztekium valdezii are simple – any well-draining container with a drainage hole will do. Terracotta pots are a great breathable option. When potting or repotting, use a cactus or succulent soil mix amended with extra grit like perlite for enhanced drainage.

Repotting is very rarely required thanks to this plant’s sluggish growth rate. You may only need to go up one pot size after 5-10 years of growth. Signs it’s outgrown its current home include roots peeking through the drainage holes or the plant becoming unstable in its pot.

Propagating Aztekium valdezii

Increasing your oddball cactus collection is possible with the Aztekium valdezii by using these propagation methods:

  • From Seed – Though very slow-going, you can try germinating fresh seeds in a tray and then transplanting the sprouts. Expect to wait 2-4 years just for the first signs of growth!
  • From Cuttings
    1. Carefully take a stem cutting and allow it to callus over for a few weeks
    2. Dip the calloused end in a rooting hormone powder
    3. Plant the cutting just barely covered in a well-draining cactus/succulent soil
    4. Keep soil lightly moist until roots form, which may take several months
    5. An easier way is to graft the cutting onto an established, fastergrowing cactus first

With some care and patience, you’ll soon have an alien-like Aztekium valdezii cactus to call your own! Its bizarre shape and vibrant colors are sure to be a fascinating conversation piece. Get ready for all your friends to ask “What is that thing?!” when they see this funky plant chillin’ on your windowsill.