Konofitum: home care, reproduction, transplantation
Among the many succulent plants, those that look like pebbles are especially distinguished. They are called in the people - "living stones". Scientifically, they are called conophytums. They come from rocky deserts located in southern Africa.
The genus conophytum belongs to the Aizov family. Their distinctive feature is the presence of the aerial part, represented by 2 fleshy fused leaves. They have a heart-shaped shape, either similar to a tuberous ball, or presented in the form of a truncated cone with rounded faces. A short stem is in the soil. The color of such leaves may be blue, green or brown, while small spots may be present on their surface. This allows the plant to practically merge with numerous stones, among which it prefers to grow.
Conophytum bloom is unusually beautiful. It begins almost together with a period of active growth. The flowers are quite large, have a rich color, and in shape resemble a chamomile or funnel.
Such a plant has a clear life cycle associated with a period of dormancy and vegetation, which occur just at the time when rains and droughts are observed in the flower’s homeland. In different species, such periods may slightly differ. However, for the most part, the growing season is observed in winter, and the dormant period is from the beginning of the spring to the beginning of the autumn months or from the end of winter to the middle of summer days.
Such a plant has an unusual feature, namely, young leaves grow inside the old.At the same time, old leaves dry out over time and become thinner. And they are a kind of protection for young foliage.
Conofitum care at home
Temperature and light
Such a plant will normally grow and develop in a dry and cool (from 10 to 18 degrees) room, in which there should be fairly good ventilation. Lighting prefers diffuse. Do not overheat the conophytum. Also, it must be protected from direct sunlight, due to which burns can appear on the surface of leaflets, especially for young specimens. It is recommended that young plants be gradually accustomed to sunlight.
Suitable soil must be loose. So, for the preparation of earth mixtures, it is necessary to combine river sand, leaf humus and red clay, taken in a ratio of 2: 2: 1. A suitable soil mixture intended for succulents and cacti is also suitable for planting. It must be remembered that peat mixtures cannot be used for planting.
Top dressing is relatively rare, usually 1 or 2 times in 12 months. For this, potash fertilizers containing not a very large amount of nitrogen are suitable. Take ½ part of the recommended dose. Recently transplanted plants do not feed.
How to water
“Live stones” are watered through the pan, while it should not be allowed that the liquid gets on the surface of the leaves. Sometimes spraying is carried out. But in this case, it is necessary that the flower is as if shrouded in fog,and on the leaves at the same time there were no droplets of water.
When growing conophytum, one should not forget about its life cycle. So, you should completely stop watering at rest. You need to start watering again after the onset of a period of active growth. So, at this time, from the old dried leaf, a new one should appear. In the plant during this period, flowering is also observed. In various species, it lasts from June to September.
In the autumn period, watering should be done 1 time in 7 days, and in the winter - enough once every 4 weeks. Slightly increase the frequency of watering at the end of the period of active growth (February – March). At this time, the formation of new leaves inside the old begins.
The leaves should become faded and cringe, and this is a completely natural process.
Often such plants should not be transplanted. As a rule, a transplant is performed once every 2–4 years. Transplantation is allowed to be carried out regardless of the time of year, but still the best time for such a procedure is the end of the rest period. Before transplanting, conofitum should not be watered. From its root system you need to remove all the old soil, and if desired, you can wash it. For landing, low and narrow containers are suitable. It is important to make at the bottom a good drainage layer of expanded clay at least 1.5 centimeters high. After the transplant, the first watering is done after half a month, and top dressing should be stopped for a while.
These plants are centenarians. So, they can live from 10 to 15 years. However, as they grow older they grow.Their stalk becomes longer, from which the conophytums lose their spectacular appearance.
Such a plant can be propagated by cuttings, as well as seeds.
To propagate by cuttings, carefully cut off a leaf with part of the stem and plant for rooting in the soil. The first watering is carried out only 3 weeks after planting, during which time the roots should grow on the stalk. Some experienced flower growers recommend leaving the stem in the open air for drying for 1-2 days. Then the slice is treated with heteroauxin powder or colloidal sulfur.
Seed propagation is more complex. This plant has cross-pollination. Small seeds ripen for a very long time, about 12 months. Torn fruits with seeds inside are placed in a cool dark place. Before you start sowing, you need to soak them for several hours.
Sowing is carried out at the beginning of the period of active growth in the autumn period. They are laid out on the surface of moistened soil, and sprinkled with sand on top. It is recommended to cover the container with foil. Until the first shoots appear, the substrate should always be slightly moist.
The seeds germinate best in coolness, but they need to ensure the fluctuation of daily temperatures. So, in the daytime should be 17-20 degrees, and at night - no more than 10 degrees.
After half a month after emergence, the film should be removed. The plantlet is placed in a cool, well-ventilated place. After 12 months, plant formation ends, and the first flowering occurs after 1.5–2 years.
Pests and diseases
It is quite resistant to diseases and pests. In rare cases, a worm or a spider mite can settle. Also, the plant may begin to rot due to excessive moisture. Poor watering, high air temperature and lack of nutrients negatively affect the growth and development of “living stones”.