Conophytum (Conophytum) occupies a special place in the plant kingdom of succulents. The plant is also referred to as "living stones". Conophytums received such a peculiar name due to their external resemblance to pebbles. The area of distribution of wild plantations of the described culture is the southern corners of the African continent, where succulent is considered a frequent visitor to arid deserts.
Description of the conophytum
In scientific sources, conophytum belongs to the representatives of the Aizov family, which have two fleshy fused leaves as the ground part. Leaf blades that accumulate moisture look like a heart or resemble a lumpy ball. Sometimes foliage takes the form of a truncated cone with rounded edges. The central shoot is low, located underground. Succulents of this genus are colored blue, green or brown. Often there is a slight mottling on the leaves. The unique color makes the plant inconspicuous and allows you to hide among the stones, like a chameleon.
The type of Aizovs under consideration is very attractive. Blooms simultaneously with the activation of vegetative processes. Large buds of a rich tone are similar in outline to chamomile flowers or a funnel.
The conophytum plant has a specific life cycle, which is associated with a dormant phase and growth. As a rule, it coincides with the period of rains and droughts in the homeland of the flower. The species bred by domestic breeders are slightly late or, conversely, are ahead in the development of their relatives. In our area, intensive growth in conophytum is observed in winter. Peace begins in spring and lasts until September or October.
The leaves of the "living stones" are unusually arranged. Juicy scales appear inside old plates, which provide protection for the young at first. Over time, the old leaves gradually wither, the walls become thinner.
Conophytum care at home
Location and lighting
Fresh air and diffused light should be regularly supplied to the room. Overheating of the leaves of the conophytum is undesirable. A flowerpot with a flower is protected from direct sunlight. The rays are capable of leaving burns on the scales. Young specimens are in great danger. Newly planted bushes need to be gradually accustomed to natural light and leave the pot on the windowsill for several hours every day.
The plant, although slowly but steadily, grows in size in a cool dry room at a temperature of 10-18 ° C.
Conophytum is watered in the lower way, i.e. through the pallet, preventing moisture from entering the surface of the leaf blades. Spraying is allowed during periods of extreme heat. However, it is important to ensure that no water droplets accumulate in the sinuses. Excess liquid deposited on the foliage can lead to plant decay.
A loose, drained substrate containing sand, leaf humus and clay is selected - the optimal mixture for planting a succulent. If it is not possible to get suitable components, they acquire ready-made soil. It is not recommended to use peat and various substrates with its addition.
Top dressing is applied only occasionally. It is enough to fertilize the crop 1-2 times a year. The advantage is given to potash fertilizers, where there is little nitrogen. When diluting the fertilizer, it is better to take half of the dose indicated by the manufacturer on the package. Plants that have survived a short transplant do not need additional nutrition.
Transfer the conophytum bush from one pot to another only when absolutely necessary. Adult specimens are transplanted once every 2-4 years, waiting until the dormant period ends. The season doesn't matter. The substrate should not be moistened before transplanting the conophytum. The extracted roots are freed from adhering soil and gently washed under water. Landing is done in spacious low flowerpots, on the bottom of which expanded clay or pebbles are poured. The width of the drainage layer is at least 1.5 cm. When the procedure is completed, the plant is watered for the first time in two weeks. Until the bush takes root, fertilizer should not be applied.
Succulents are among the longest-lived representatives of the flora. Under favorable conditions, even indoor pets live up to 10-15 years. Every year the stem lengthens, which worsens the overall appearance.
Growing "living stones", you need to remember about the life cycle of the culture. While the plant is resting, watering is stopped. Moisturizing the soil is resumed with the beginning of the growth of shoots and roots, when the top of a young growth appears next to the old leaf. In parallel, inflorescences are formed. In different varieties of conophytum, flowering occurs in June, July or August and lasts until mid-September.
In autumn, watering of the conophytum is reduced. The earth is moistened only once a week. In winter, it is recommended to water the "pebbles" once a month. The amount of water applied is increased in February or March, when the process of forming new leaves starts.
The drooping color and drying of old plates should not cause concern for the owners. This happens to all succulents.
Reproduction methods of conophytum
Conophytums propagate by cuttings or sowing seeds.
When propagating by cuttings, a leaf with a stem is cut off and planted in the ground to form roots. Watering is started three weeks after planting. By this time, the stalk will acquire roots. Florists advise keeping the cutting outdoors until it dries out for a day or two. The section of the cut is rubbed with colloidal sulfur.
Seed cultivation of a crop is considered more challenging. Bushes are cross-pollinated. Ripening of small seeds is long. It will take almost a year for the grains to ripen. Dried fruits are harvested and transferred to a cool place where there is no natural light. Before sowing, the grains are soaked in water for a couple of hours.
Sowing activities are carried out in the fall, before the active growing season begins. The seeds are spread over the moistened soil and dripped with a small layer of sand. Containers are covered with foil to retain moisture. To successfully form young shoots, the substrate is kept moist.
Germination proceeds more efficiently in a cool microclimate, taking into account the difference in daily temperatures, where during the day the air temperature is from 17 to 20 ° C, and at night it does not drop below 10 ° C.
After 2 weeks, the protective film is removed so that the seedlings further develop independently. They are kept cool, where the air enters. The plant forms a frame throughout the year and blooms for the first time after 1.5-2 years.
How to plant conophytums. Funny version.
Diseases and pests
Conophytum has a strong "immunity" to various diseases, is not afraid of pests. Occasionally, foliage is infected with a worm or spider mite. Due to excessive watering, the succulent may die. Conversely, a lack of water, overheating of the air or a scarce nutrient medium in the substrate in a flower pot leads to a slowdown in plant growth.
I was presented with the most romantic succulent in the world - two-bladed conophytum. It looks like a heart and blooms beautifully
About a year ago, I was presented with an unusual heart-shaped succulent. Amazing view! But he really won me over when it bloomed. The tops of the plant were decorated with bright flowers that resemble dandelions and uplifting.
Conophytums are gaining increasing popularity among collectors of African super succulents and, along with Lithops, continue to be the subject of ongoing searches in nature and endless disputes over their taxonomy.
The most voluminous material on the ordering of conophytums is presented by Stephen Hammer (Hammer, Steven A.) in his monograph "The Cenus Conophytum - A Conograph" and the subsequent expanded and refined edition entitled "Dumpling and His Wife: New Views of the Genus Conophytum "(2002). And if the translation of the name after the colon is not in doubt and sounds like "New views on the genus Conophytum", then before the colon it is difficult if you do not know Stephen's penchant for metaphors and unexpected comparisons. "Dampling" from English. translates as "dumpling", "baked apple" or "shorty" (dwarf). The latter comes closest to conophytums, and then ... The English also have a joking expression: "All the world and his wife", which translates as "the whole world, everything without exception." Therefore, Stephen used this metaphor in the title of his work, and it should be translated as "In the world of" dwarfs "(" The whole world of "dwarfs") New views on the genus Conophytum ".
Comparison of conophytums due to their size with dwarfs (short ones) is not invented by Hammer. Priority in this belongs to A. Howorth (Haworth, Adrian Harde), who in 1803 used the term "dampling" when describing Mesembryanthemum obcordellum, which in 1922, like many dwarf species of mesembriantemums, was translated by N.E. Brown (Braun, Nicholas Edward) into the genus Konofitum created by him. The genus has about 100 species, and together with their subspecies, varieties and forms - much more.
Photo and plant Elton Roberts (California)
It is striking that these days the genus continues to be replenished with "new" species of dubious origin and legal status. But one of the most typical conophytums with a century of history and a strong reputation is the Conophytum bilibum described in 1906 by Marloth. The specific epithet comes from lat. bi - prefixes denoting double, paired and Greek. Λoβοξ - lobe, which corresponds to the bifurcation of the body of most conophytums with age.
Plant from the Botanical Garden of the BIN RAS (St. Petersburg, RF)
Photo by Anna Emelyanova (Odessa, Ukraine)
From the “feed” of S. Hammer, the “pure” C. bilobum is supplemented by three subspecies and three varieties. "Bilobums" are easily recognizable plants among the conophytums. They have the largest flowers in the genus, and their leaf pairs, inseparable at the base, look like a cylinder. Since the pairs are very variable in size, texture, color, streaks or spots on the epidermis, it is difficult to identify the species, especially since C. bilobum readily bushes, does not have stems, although in adult plants they can appear, carefully hidden by younger growths.
Plant and photo of Ivanova Elena (Kiev)
The wraps of leaf pairs are papery or leathery in structure, and are reluctantly discarded during the molting of plants and the formation of "newborn" pairs. The wrappers are colored in brownish tones and are covered with spots of different density from the release of tannins. Most of the leaf pairs are obovate, laterally flattened in the formation zone of the keels, the apex of which is often colored red. The color of the leaf pairs themselves can be whitish or yellowish-green, and with an excess of illumination it acquires a dirty pink or brownish tint. The epidermis is glossy, or covered with papillae of various shapes, making it velvety-like. The papillae have the greatest intensity in the zone of the gap, which can be slightly or wide open and bordered by swollen windows. Spots on the epidermis are absent, or form a chaotic pattern. Flowers are usually yellow, but exceptionally pinkish. The fruits are divided into 4-7 chambers, brown and woody with age. Seeds are numerous, rough, brown. Seedlings retain their juvenile stage for a long time and flowering occurs only after 2-3 years.
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For the growth of any houseplant, sunlight is important, which the plant needs for photosynthesis - the process by which plants synthesize carbohydrates as energy sources for their growth. Right now: during the winter months, our plants really need additional lighting. Many people try to supplement the illumination of plants, but all the same, winter shoots remain pale, thin, there is a decrease in leaf area and a decrease in the formation of chlorophyll. Artificial lighting does not reach the intensity of daylight, so the plants need to be illuminated not just with whatever, but with special lamps.
In this article I will try to tell you about phytolamps in an accessible way. What they are and why plants love them more than other sources of artificial lighting.
First, I'll tell you about the need for light in plants.
It has been experimentally established that for the minimum photosynthetic activity of a plant, an illumination level of only 100 lux (lux) is sufficient, but for the normal assimilation of carbon dioxide, water and other substances, a level of at least 1000 lux is needed. On a cloudy winter day, we can observe an illumination of 100 lux on the southern window sill, and an illumination of 1000 lux on the same day on the street.
Conventionally, all indoor plants can be divided into three groups according to their light requirements. The first one needs direct sunlight, the second one needs bright diffused lighting, the third one feels good in partial shade. Basically, all of our indoor plants are guests from those latitudes where daylight hours averages 12 hours a day, and the light intensity practically does not change with the change of seasons and reaches 120,000 lux.
But for the normal development of the plant in winter, it will be enough to additionally provide the following additional illumination modes:
• 1,000 - 3,000 lux - for plants growing in partial shade. As a rule, such plants need artificial lighting only when placed at a considerable distance from windows.
• 3,000 - 4,000 lux - for plants that prefer diffused light.
• 4,000 - 6,000 lux - for plants that prefer direct sunlight.
• 6000 - 12000 lux - for growing demanding exotic plants, especially fruiting ones.
Let's distribute all the plants according to the supplementary lighting mode:
|Recommended illumination, lx||Plants|
|2500-3000||Agave (Agave, Bokarnea, Cordilina, Dracaena) Acanthus (Afelandra, Crossandra, Fittonia, Hypestes, Pachistachis) Araliaceae (Dizigoteca, Fatshedera, Fatsia, Ivy, Poliscias) Aroid (Aglaonema, Alocasia, Dieffenbachyllium, Monronstachis) pineapple, bilbergia, guzmania, cryptantus, ehmeya) Grape (ampelopsis, cissus, tetrastigma) stromanta) Euphorbiaceae (akalifa, codiaeum, euphorbia, jatropha) Mulberry ferns (ficus, figs, dorsthenia)|
|3000-4000||Aizoon (Delosperma, Lithops, Conophytum, Faucaria) Begonias Verbenaceae (Karyopteris, Duranta, Clerodendrum, Lantana) Saxifrage (Saxifrage, Tolmia, Korokia) Marennaceae (Gardenia, Ixora, Pentasa, Centera Kastoprosoma, (calceolaria, chebe, rhodochiton) Palm (chamedorea, cariota, hovea, livistona, date) Solanaceous (brovallia, brunfelsia, dope, nightshade) Pepper (peperomia, pepper) Cycadaceae (cicas, zamia) Tea (camellia, cactuses) Epiphs ( epiphyllum, schlumberger, hatiora, ripsalis)|
|4000-6000||Amaryllis (amaryllis, clivia, hemantus, hippeastrum) Banana (banana, heliconia, strelitzia) Bignoniae (kampsis, jaccaranda, pandorea, tekoma) Legumes (acacia, albicia, cassia, broom, mimosa) Heather (pernettia) pomegranate) Gullet (hoya, ceropegia, stapelia, dyschidia) Malvaceae (abutilon, anisodontea, hibiscus, pavonia) Orchid Pelargonium (pelargonium) Asteraceae (gerbera, chrysanthemum, mycania) Sterculiae (brachychitron), fremontachodyania|
|6000 and more||Cacti (except for epiphytic ones) Kutrovye (adenium, allamanda, catharanthus, oleander, pachypodium) Olive (olive, jasmine, osmanthus) Myrtle (myrtle, metrosideros, callistemon, eucalyptus, leptospermum) Nocturnal (bougainvillea) citruses, skimmia, murraya) Passionflower (passionflower)|
Now that we have distributed the plants into groups, we will try to group them exactly in such a way for the winter time, in order to choose for each group its own degree of additional illumination. Now, knowing the area of our windowsill, we will be able to calculate the required number of lamps, the illumination intensity of the lamps is written on their packaging (LC per sq. M.).
Also, when supplementing plants, it will be necessary to take into account the following factors:
• Plants are characterized by phototropism - a reaction to the direction of incidence of light. Artificial light should fall on the plants in the same way as the natural one - from above, in this case, the plants will not have to spend energy on changing the position of the leaves as with side lighting, in order to get as much light as possible, the plants will bend the stems less.
• Daylight hours should not exceed 12 hours per day for adult plants. Too long daylight hours can disrupt the development of flower buds, and the plant will not bloom and bear fruit.
• Seedlings need round-the-clock lighting. In the first days after germination, young seedlings need to be provided with bright lighting around the clock. On subsequent days, daylight hours are gradually reduced, first to 16, then to 14 hours a day.
• The choice of lighting in winter depends on the temperature regime. Heat-loving tropical plants hibernate with a slight decrease in temperature and illumination. For other plants, a decrease in illumination is allowed only during cool wintering (5-15 degrees C). In the dark and cold (0-5 degrees C), it is allowed to keep only plants completely losing their foliage.
What kind of light do plants like
The optical region of the radiation spectrum is divided into ultraviolet, visible and infrared. Ultraviolet radiation - optical radiation, the wavelengths of the monochromatic components of which are in the range from 1 to 380 nm. Visible radiation (light) - radiation that causes a visual sensation when it hits the retina of the eye, has wavelengths of monochromatic components in the range from 380 to 780 nm.
Infrared radiation is optical radiation with monochromatic wavelengths greater than 780 nm.
Radiation useful for plants lies in the visible spectrum. In this case, the region from 400 to 700 nm is of greatest importance.
In the spectral range, areas are distinguished in accordance with their influence on the physiological processes of plants:
1. Wavelength less than 400 nm - radiation is harmful to most plants.
2. Wavelength 400-510 nm - the second peak of photosynthesis, growth and formative effects.
3. Wavelength 510-700 nm - the zone of maximum photosynthetic effect (the first peak of photosynthesis), chlorophyll synthesis, manifestation of the effect of photoperiodism.
4. Wavelength over 700 nm - mainly stem-pulling effect.
Although the region of sensitivity of photosynthesis coincides with the region of sensitivity of the human eye, plants and humans "see" light differently. The human eye is most sensitive to yellow-green light. In plants, the first peak of photosynthesis falls on the orange-red part of the spectrum, the second - on the blue-blue, and the yellow-green region does not play a decisive role. This feature is used in specialized phytolamps.