April Monthly/Quarterly Subscription Box

This box contains two very different and hard-to-find plants. Both of these plants will stand out in your collection with the interesting markings of the "Super Kabuto' and the funky leaf shapes of the cryptanthus.

Astrophytum asterias 'Super Kabuto' and cryptanthus cv Ruby Star both shown in 3" pots.

Astrophytum Asterias 'Super Kabuto'

Native Range and Growing Season: The Astrophytum genus is native to the deserts of North America, particularly Mexico and parts of Texas. This includes the 'Super Kabuto' variety, which thrives in arid conditions. In its natural habitat, it experiences hot, dry summers and mild winters. As for its growing season, Astrophytum Asteria 'Super Kabuto' typically enjoys active growth during the spring and summer months.

Blooming Season: While the primary allure of the 'Super Kabuto' lies in its distinctive markings and compact shape, it also produces beautiful yellow flowers in the right conditions. Typically, these blooms appear in late spring to early summer, adding an extra touch of charm to this already captivating plant.

Max Growth Diameter and Height: Astrophytum Asteria 'Super Kabuto' is known for its relatively slow growth compared to other succulents. At maturity, it typically reaches a diameter of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) and a height of 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm). Its compact size makes it an ideal choice for small spaces and indoor gardens.

Light Needs: Like most desert-dwelling succulents, the 'Super Kabuto' thrives in bright, indirect sunlight. Place it near a sunny window where it can receive at least six hours of sunlight per day. Be cautious of intense afternoon sun, as this can lead to sunburn on the delicate leaves. If you notice stretching or etiolation, it's a sign that the plant is not receiving enough light.

Soil Requirements: Proper soil is essential for the health of your Astrophytum Asteria 'Super Kabuto'. Opt for a well-draining succulent or cactus mix, or create your own by mixing regular potting soil with perlite or coarse sand. This ensures that excess water can drain away quickly, preventing root rot—a common issue with succulents.

Watering Needs: One of the biggest mistakes succulent enthusiasts make is overwatering, and the 'Super Kabuto' is no exception. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings, then give it a thorough soak, ensuring water drains out the bottom of the pot. During the growing season, water sparingly, about once every two to three weeks. In winter, reduce watering frequency to once a month or less, as the plant enters a period of dormancy.

Additional Tips:

  • Temperature: Keep your Astrophytum Asteria 'Super Kabuto' in a warm environment, ideally between 70°F to 85°F (21°C to 29°C) during the day and above 50°F (10°C) at night.
  • Potting: Choose a pot with drainage holes to prevent water from pooling at the bottom, and repot every few years to refresh the soil and provide more space for growth.
  • Fertilization: Feed your 'Super Kabuto' with a balanced succulent fertilizer diluted to half strength during the growing season, usually from spring to early fall.

Cryptanthus cv Ruby Star

Native Range and Growing Season: The Cryptanthus genus is native to the tropical rainforests of Brazil, where it grows as an epiphyte on trees or rocks. This particular cultivar, Ruby Star, is a hybrid selected for its striking red and green foliage. While it thrives in the warm and humid conditions of its native habitat, it adapts well to indoor environments with proper care. In terms of the growing season, Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star tends to be active year-round, with its growth peaking during the warmer months.

Blooming Season: Although Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star is primarily grown for its stunning foliage, it can also produce delicate white flowers under the right conditions. However, these flowers are relatively rare when compared to the plant's ornamental value, and they typically appear during the spring or summer months.

Max Growth Diameter and Height: One of the appealing aspects of Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star is its compact size, making it an ideal choice for smaller spaces or as part of a terrarium arrangement. At maturity, this cultivar typically reaches a diameter of 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) and a height of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm), forming a tight rosette of leaves that adds visual interest to any setting.

Light Needs: To maintain the vibrant colors and healthy growth of Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star, provide it with bright, indirect sunlight. While it can tolerate some direct sunlight, prolonged exposure may cause leaf burn or fading of its intense red hues. A north or east-facing window is often ideal, where the plant can receive filtered light throughout the day. If natural light is insufficient, supplement with grow lights to ensure adequate illumination.

Soil Requirements: As a tropical plant accustomed to growing in nutrient-rich environments, Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star thrives in well-draining, slightly acidic soil. Use a high-quality potting mix formulated for tropical plants or bromeliads, which provides excellent aeration and moisture retention. Alternatively, you can create a suitable mix by combining orchid bark, perlite, and peat moss in equal parts.

Watering Needs: Proper watering is crucial for the health of Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star. While it appreciates consistently moist soil, it's essential to avoid waterlogging, as this can lead to root rot. Water thoroughly when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil feels dry to the touch, allowing excess water to drain away freely. During the warmer months, you may need to water more frequently, but be mindful of overwatering, especially in cooler or less humid conditions.

Additional Tips:

  • Temperature and Humidity: Maintain a moderate to warm temperature range between 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°C) and provide adequate humidity by misting the leaves or placing a humidity tray nearby.
  • Fertilization: Feed your Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half strength every 2 to 4 weeks during the growing season, reducing frequency in winter.
  • Propagation: Expand your collection by propagating Cryptanthus cv. Ruby Star through offsets or pups that emerge from the base of the plant. Simply remove these offsets and plant them in their own pots with well-draining soil.