Aztekium Ritteri (Sacred Aztec Cactus)- 100 seeds
The genus, Aztekium, is named after its resemblance to certain Aztec pyramids while the species, Ritteri, was named after botanist Fredrich Ritter as a gesture of honor in 1928. Native to Nuevo Leon in northeast Mexico, ritteri is typically found on north-facing, rocky slopes. This species, which is said to have been sacred to the Tarahumara Indians, was believed to be the only species in its genus until George S. Hinton discovered Aztekium Hintonii in 1991, roughly 60 years later. As of today, Aztekum remains a two species genus, and both species are highly collectable. Aztekium Ritteri has a distinctive appearance with 9-11 wrinkled ribs. Tufts of wool fill its areoles and sometimes run up the center of each rib, meeting to create a wooly crown on top. Ritteri is a small, slow-growing cactus fed by a main taproot that is considered mature at about only 2 inches. Despite the small size of individual buttons, it readily offsets new buttons. Grafting is said to increase this effect. The flowers of Aztekium Ritteri are pink to white and bloom throughout the summer. Seeds are the most common means of propagation, but due to the small size of the seedlings, raising them to maturity requires skill. This species is an excellent and extremely rewarding challenge for experienced growers, but it is not recommended for beginners.
Growing Information: Seeds should be germinated in a fine sandy soil at about 70-75 degrees. A commercial potting mix with the larger material strained out is ideal. Adding chalk and/or gypsum is beneficial since A. Ritteri naturally grows in mineral-rich soils. Flatten out the soil and then put a thin layer of loose soil above it. Sow the seeds on the surface and press in very lightly. They need light to germinate. Mist the soil to keep it moist and cover with clear plastic. Ideally, the covering should not be flat across the top because it will cause the water to drip back on the young seedlings, which sometimes causes rot. Something like a sandwich bag often makes a better “tent” because the water will run down the sides more easily. The soil should not be allowed to dry out while the plants are seedlings. Use a mister if the soil does get dry. Place the seedlings on a heat mat (ideally) and in bright light. Placing the seeds just a few inches from fluorescent lights is ideal for starting seedlings, although natural light will work too. Note that using a heat mat will cause more evaporation, which may require more attention. Be sure to air out the seedlings once a day for best results. Seedlings are small and delicate. Grafting to pereskiopsis is possible, but requires care. Growers should have experience before attempting to raise this species. Established plants prefer light shade, which is indicated by the fact that they grow primarily on north-facing slopes. Water your cacti sparingly from April through September. Withhold water throughout the winter and keep the temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.