The Goat’s Horn Cactus (Astrophytum capricorne) is a unique cactus native to the Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. It is a slow-growing and drought-tolerant cactus with a couple of intriguing features that set it apart from other cacti.
It gets its name from its long, curved “horns” that resemble those of a goat. However, these spines tend to get messier and messier with age, losing this similarity. Clumps of these spines, thin and curved, protrude from the areolas on the ribs. The ribs don’t usually number more than eight, but variances have been seen in the wild and in cultivation. The skin of the cactus is green flecked with soft white spots – like freckles.
It is a popular choice for indoor growers because it is easy to care for and does not require much water. With proper care, Astrophytum capricorne can live for many years.
- Astrophytum capricorne Main Characteristics
- Astrophytum capricorne Care
- Propagating Astrophytum capricorne
- Potting and Repotting Astrophytum capricorne
- Common Pests and Diseases
- Common Problems
- How To water, fertilize and care for your Goat’s Horn Cactus (Video)
Astrophytum capricorne Main Characteristics
|Goat’s Horn Cactus
|Echinocactus capricornis; Maierocactus capricornus
|A capricorne var. crassispinumA capricorne var. minusA capricorne var. niveumA capricorne var. senileA capricorne var. aureum
|USDA Hardiness Zones
|9A to 11B
|Height: up to 10 inches tall; Spread: up to 4 inches wide
Astrophytum capricorne Care
The Goat’s Horn Cactus is a beautiful, low-maintenance cactus that is perfect for indoor gardens. With its showy flowers and dramatic horns, this cactus will add interest to any room. In this guide, we will discuss the care requirements for this cactus so that you can keep yours healthy and looking its best.
Light and Location
Astrophytum capricorne prefers full sun but can tolerate some light shade. If you are growing this cactus indoors, place it in a south- or west-facing window. Outdoors, the cactus should be grown in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day.
Despite being a cactus, this species needs regular watering but remember to allow the soil to dry out entirely between sessions. Water approximately once every two weeks during the active growth period (spring and summer). During the dormant period (fall and winter), stop watering entirely.
Temperature and Humidity
Astrophytum capricorne is native to the deserts of Mexico and thus prefers warm, dry conditions. Indoors, it would be best if you kept the temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Optimally, between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the conditions dry; it has the added benefit of allowing the cactus to survive below-freezing temperatures for brief periods.
Fertilize with care. Giving too much feed results in less than desirable growth. A standard cactus mix every two weeks is more than enough. Do not fertilize during the dormant period.
Propagating Astrophytum capricorne
This cactus can be propagated by seeds or offsets.
- To propagate by seed, sow the seeds in a cactus mix and water lightly.
- Sprinkle a thin layer of grit to cover the leaves; you don’t want to suffocate them with too much. Poor ventilation is a death sentence for these cacti.
- It might also be good to water from the bottom, so the seeds aren’t disturbed.
- Keep the soil slightly moist and position it in a warm, sunny location.
- You can increase chances of germination by maintaining high humidity by covering the pot with a plastic sheet to keep the moisture trapped inside.
- Seeds will germinate within two to four weeks.
You can also use offsets to propagate, but these plants rarely produce them. Seeds germinate readily, and there is little reason to seek alternatives.
Potting and Repotting Astrophytum capricorne
Astrophytum capricorne is best potted in a porous soil mix. A cactus mix or potting soil designed for succulents will work well. Proper air circulation is absolutely essential for these cacti. Most problems occur as a result of poor ventilation.
In addition, you also want to be careful and prevent soggy conditions for the cactus. This requires the presence of both drainage holes and a fast-draining mix. This aspect is already taken care of if you’re using a cactus mix. Just ensure that the drainage holes work and that the pot isn’t too big. Big pots are an invitation for pests and diseases.
Repot every two to three years, using the same soil mix as before. When repotting, knock off as much of the old soil as possible. Do not damage the roots in the process. If necessary, gently tease them apart with your fingers. Then, pot them in the new soil mix and water lightly.
Astrophytum capricorne is not considered to be toxic to humans or animals. However, the spines can be somewhat prickly. Therefore, it is best to keep them out of reach of small children and pets who may be tempted to nibble on them.
Common Pests and Diseases
Goat’s Horn Cactus is susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites. Mealybugs can sometimes develop underground, which is a hassle to get rid of. Spider mites are more straightforward and immediately apparent if they invade the plant.
If you notice any of these pests, take action immediately. A strong stream of water from the garden hose should be enough to dislodge. You may need to use insecticide for severe infestations.
One of the most common problems with Astrophytum capricorne is root rot. This happens when the roots sit in water for too long and begin to decompose. The first sign of root rot is usually a yellowing of the leaves followed by wilting and eventually death. If you notice any symptoms, take action immediately.