Sunday, April 10, 2016

Cheiridopsis on the windowsill (8 pics)

I have mentioned before that Cheiridopsis grow very well on a windowsill, in my unexperienced experience. They don't make any troubles and, unlike other mesembs, are able to grow to a large size under insufficient light conditions without losing attractiveness or having growth problems later. They grow here in small 5x5cm pots in pure pumice (no plant food) with little but regular watering throughout the year. This last part is what confuses me. They do seem to be opportunistic and will grow without a resting period if watered. They also retain two to three pairs of leaves at a time and there seem to be no need to let old leaves dry off before encouraging new growth. That's all fine and well, but I'd be more comfortable if they were on a fixed watering schedule. Maybe I'm thinking too much and should just accept their growing pattern and simply care for them as I did so far. It surely does not hurt. Except for the fact that they never flower ;) There's a chance that fixed watering schedule in support of a somewhat regulated yearly cycle might help with that. 

You already know the Ch. denticulata I've been growing since 2013. The plants are huge. Can't even fit them on a photo. I constantly feel the need to give them bigger pots but they seem to be fine just with occasional fresh substrate. Note that they are this "fat" without any fertilizer. They get watered a little only when they get wrinkly. I let them have two pairs of leaves at a time but try to water less when third is coming. They have enough resources to support it.

This Ch. cigarettifera however is the newest member of my Cheiridopsis gang. I just got two plants in February and am relieved they react to water. They seem to grow on stilts!

The guys below are some of those I got last year. They have all developed well since then. However, looking at last July's photos it seems that they were grown much stricter. Sure, they come from a greenhouse with much better light. But it seems to me they were allowed to have only one pair of leaves in Summer. Mine have two now. Does it mean I have to starve them from now on to achieve the same look this July that they had last July? It might be beneficial for the leaf color but it will break my heart at the same time. Tough decision.

Cheiridopsis brownii (MG 1365.4)

Cheiridopsis bruynsii (MG 1404.81)

Cheiridopsis excavata (MG 1375) This one might be called an Ihlenfeldtia excavata .

Cheiridopsis seem to be easy from seed, too. These are my own seedlings of Ch. pillansii (MG 1401.5), now exactly 2 years old. Out of 8 seeds 7 germinated and I still have all of them. Would recommend them to newbies ;)

Here are Ch. pillansii (MG 1401.5) I sowed from the same bunch of seeds almost two months ago. Cute babies!


  1. You have a wonderful collection of Cheiridopsis. The current thinking is that C. cigarettifera is the same as C. denticulata. Do you see differences? I am a bit amazed how well C. denticulata does for you with your somewhat reduced light. However, the reduced light be the reason you are not seeing any flowers. Also your consistent night temperatures may also be delaying flowering.

    You do a great job managing the watering with your succulents. Therefore, for some succulents (the opportunist) you control their growth and activity to an extent. The question you have to answer is, how do you want them to grow? Give them more water, or water more often, and you get more luxurious growth. Hold back on the water and you get the slower growing, more naturalistic (meaning more like they would look in their natural habitat) appearance. Yes, the watering schedule for some species is locked into a definite pattern that must be followed, but others are more flexible and let the grower decide. Those that manage plants have responsibilities, but they also have the opportunity to have a lot of fun and excitement watching their plants grow. At least your living situation doesn't depend on such decisions. When I worked with greenhouse growers who depended on their plants to make them the money they had to live on, their decisions were often very stressful. Of course none of them grew succulents. The big crops were bedding plants and poinsettias.

    I enjoy all of your photos. Thanks as always for sharing you plants, and your thoughts with us. Keep smiling and have fun.

    1. Thank you as always for a very informative comment Bob! :) Care to participate in the Ch. meyeri v. minor discussion, too? I'd love to read your thoughts on that.

      Ch. denticulata and Ch. cigarettifera are completely different, from what I see. Or rather it is a completely different scale. Ch. cigarettifera are much smaller and the leaves are much thinner than Ch. denticulata. If not watered they get even thinner and softer and almost look like grass. On the Ch. cigarettifera photo, two multi-branch adult plants are growing in one 5x5cm pot with enough room to spread. On the Ch. denticulata photo, a 5x5cm pot can barely hold one plant. Ch. denticulata are massive, even when not watered.

      Thank you for your trust in my skills. Watering is always tricky. Fixed schedules like those of lithops and conos are in fact helpful - "when in doubt - follow the schedule" type of thing. With opportunistic plants the watering pattern puts a lot of pressure on the grower :D

      Have a wonderful weekend!