Succulent Macros

I haven’t really posted any little succulent pics in a while because many of them are dormant during the spring and summer and don’t look like much. After our recent rain storm they are springing back to life so it is time for an update.

All of them are plants that I started from seed except for the Fenestraria. Most of them are in two or three inch pots so that should give you an idea of their size.

Frithia pulchra

Frithia pulchra

Titanopsis primosii

Titanopsis primosii

Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. rhopalophylla

Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. aurantiaca

Stomatium alboroseum

Crassula barklyi

Crassula macowaniana

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera

Lithops optica ssp. rubra

Mitrophyllum dissitum

 Mitrophyllum dissitum

 Mitrophyllum grande

 Monilaria pisiformis (I am not convinced that any of my Monilaria are going to survive dormancy. There is a bit of green in some of them but they are not doing much)

Cheiridopsis glomerata

Gibbaeum comptonii

Oophytum oviforme

Muiria hortenseae

Muiria hortenseae

The last four – Cheiridopsis glomerata, Gibbaeum comptonii, Oophytum oviforme, and Muiria hortenseae were left in their original seedling containers way too long. For little mesembs (especially tricky ones like Muiria and Oophytum) it is a balancing act on potting the plants up into individual pots. Too soon and you may kill them. If you wait too long, however, they become overgrown and their roots are so entwined it is difficult to extricate them from each other without doing damage or even killing some. I had planned on potting them up in September, after returning from a trip back east, but while I was gone the drip irrigation on my nearby container plants had sprung a leak and water was shooting up like a geyser a few times a week.  It filled the tray they were in with water so they were soaking for a few days. Not ideal for any succulent!  I let them dry out for a bit and then proceeded with potting them up and happily most of them are looking pretty good. The Oophytum are still a bit dodgy but those are tricky plants to begin with. If they fail I’ll try again and be more careful next time.

January 1st Mesembs

I had this plan to take photos of my Mesemb seedlings the first of every month so I would have a record of their growth. I was doing well with my project but fell short these past few months.  I’ll try to start it up again (but no promises!).

Cheiridopsis glomerata sown 3/11/2012 and badly in need of being pricked out and given their own pots.  The problem is I have nowhere to put all those little pots! I am going to remedy that soon though.

Gibbaeum comptonii sown exactly a year ago today!

Muiria hortenseae also sown a year ago today. To tell the truth I am a little nervous to pot these guys up. They are supposed to be tricky and they are doing so well. I’m afraid if I mess with them they will all drop dead.

Oophytum oviforme are also said to be tricky.  They are very tiny and slow-growing too so that makes me even more nervous to pot them up.

Lithops optica var. rubra 

Honestly it is a miracle I have kept any Lithops alive a year and a half.  I have killed more Lithops than any other mesemb.

Mitrophyllum grande (left) and Monilaria pisiformis

These are also a year old today and have been potted up and growing outside since spring.  They went dormant over the summer and I am shocked that they Monilaria survived.  They were all just a few millimeters tall when they went dormant and nothing was left but a few wisps of papery dried up husks. But they sprang to life with the fall rains and the one pictured and a few others are already about an inch high. This one even branched already.

The story for Dactylopsis digitata is not as happy.   Another tricky one to grow they are not thriving since coming out of dormancy. Their old dead leaves are still clinging to them and they have put on little growth. This is supposedly pretty common. I expect they will just wither away.

Mitrophyllum dissitum however are doing really well. Sown 1/16/11 so almost two years old. This past summer was their first dormancy and I was surprised how huge they had become once the rains started in fall and they started growing again. For a while I was nervous about them because like the Dactylopsis their old dried skins were also clinging to them.  But the wet and humidity of a few rainy days in November seemed to do the trick and the old skins washed away.

I think I need to start up some new mesembs and other succulents from seed.  They are far more forgiving than regular herbaceous and woody plants so I can go out of town and not worry about them too much.  People are always raving about Mesa Garden so maybe I will place an order with them when their 2013 seed list comes out.

May Mesembs and Other Succulent Seedlings

Lithops optica var. rubraLithops sp.Lithops sp.Cheiridopsis glomerataGibbaeum comptoniiOophytum oviforme
Muiria hortenseaeHaworthia truncataCrassula barklyiCrassula macowanianaCheiridopsis cigarettiferaCheiridopsis cigarettifera
Mitrophyllum dissitumMitrophyllum dissitumP1170101.jpgFrithia pulchraMixed MesembsDactylopsis digitata
Mystery CheiridopsisCheiridopsis purpureaTitanopsis primrosiiMonilaria moniliformisNewly pricked out Mesemb seedlings.Monilaria pisiformis

It’s the first of the month again and time for a succulent seedling update. Click on the thumbnails to be brought to Flickr where you will find the name of each species and the date the seed was sown and other notes.  Each of these plants is pretty tiny.  Most are under an inch tall or wide.  The largest are the Mitrophyllum dissitum at about two and a half inches tall.

April Mesembs

If you remember from last month from now on I am just going to post updates on my mesemb seedlings at the start of each month.

My newest babies.  Cheiridopsis glomerata started 3/11/12.

Gibbaeum comptonii are a little creepy looking at this stage.  They remind me of Surinam toads which are probably my number one phobia in the world.  /shudder

Stomatium alboroseum

At just three months old I think these Monilaria pisiformis are ready to be transplanted into their own pots.

Mitrophyllum grande also need to be repotted.  They are overcrowded and starting to show signs of stress.

Oophytum oviforme

Muiria hortenseae are growing very slowly compared to the others.

Lithops optica var. rubra were sown last June.

Dactylopsis digitata are supposed to be a bit difficult to grow. Only three seedlings (sown last June) survived and this is the biggest.  It seems to be doing OK.  They have grown inside on my windowsill all this time but I think this week they are ready to go outside.

This is the mystery Cheiridopsis (I think) that was mixed in with the Dactylopsis that I didn’t have the heart to thin out.  It has grown huge and looks quite different from all the other Cheiridopsis I am growing.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera is over a year old.

While I was photographing my mesembs I noticed these little mystery insect eggs neatly lined up on some bird netting.  Anyone have any idea what they are?  Hopefully something friendly.

Mitrophyllum dissitum is over a year old.  This is my nicest specimen.  Some of the others are a bit damaged as they try to shed their old growth and one looks like it might have slug or snail damage.

Frithia pulchra

This Cheiridopsis caroli-schmidtii is not one I grew from seed. I bought it a few years ago at a Cactus and Succulent show.  I noticed yesterday that it had started flowering though which is good news.  It is the first time it has bloomed in two years.  Conditions for all my succulents are much better than they have been while I was apartment living so I can expect to see lots of new growth and blooms.

Cheiridopsis purpurea was started last June.  Yellow is probably the most common flower color in mesembs so I try to find species with purple flowers if I can.

Titanopsis primrosii was also started last June. I had really high germination with these and they were so cute I didn’t have the heart to thin them out too much.  So I probably have about twenty of them. They have been growing very nicely.

Finally I just wanted to give a little update on my post last month on pinching seedlings. A few days after the post I went back and pinched again and now about ten days later they look like this:

Helipterum roseum ‘Pierott’ started 1/13/12

I’ll probably plant them out next week.



March Mesembs

Remember back when I lived in West Hollywood and I only had a balcony and the only pictures I had to share were my Mesemb seedlings?

Well things have obviously changed but I still love my babies.  From now on I am only going to take pictures of them on the first day of each month though.  Should be more fun to see how they change from month to month.

First batch is of the 3 month old babies that were started January 1st when I had just moved in to my new place.  Photos were taken with my (slightly) better camera so you can see the juicy water cells up close.  They look like little lizard scales made of translucent green pearls.

Mitrophyllum grande

Stomatium alboroseum

Gibbaeum comptonii

Monilaria pisiformis (so cute!)

Oophytum oviforme

Muiria hortensea (ignore the Mitrophyllum that snuck in on the right)

Haworthia truncata


My Mitrophyllum dissitum are over a year old and were recently potted up into their own little containers. Normally mesembs like this would have a dormant state (either in winter or summer) where they either rest or completely whither away and dry up and then when the rainy season begins they burst forth with new growth.  Seedlings seem to go through accelerated growth though and shed their old leaves fairly often.  I guess now that these guys are over a year old it might soon be safe to let them go through their seasonal dormancy but I need to research it further.  Recently a few of them have started developing new leaves and they look a bit like a lizard shedding or a butterfly coming out of its chrysalis (or hell maybe even some sort of alien parasite bursting out of its host).

Mitrophyllum dissitum new growth emerging.

For some reason instead of the normal two leaves this one only formed a solitary, silly, phallic leaf.  I’m curious to see if the new leaf will be the same or will it be normal.  Can’t really tell yet.  It does have two new branches forming at its base which is pretty neat.

And finally this one has completely emerged.  The old leaves should shrivel up over time.

My Frithia pulchra are either sort of dormant or just unhappy.  Apparently they want acidic soil and water.  They got regular cactus mix and whatever my tap water is.

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera. I highly recommend Cheiridopsis if you want to try mesembs from seed.  Very high success rate from seed and very easy to grow on.  Look how branched they have become in just over a year.  They are already becoming sizable little clumps. Most of them don’t seem to have any tricky cultural requirements as adults either.

I’m eager to see what changes next month brings. All the babies in the first pictures are currently growing in a western windowsill in my office and the yearlings are all outside. I did harden them off the first few weeks by bringing them in every night.  There is a frost threat tonight so hopefully they will be OK.


Seedling Army

Back in my post on Monilaria moniliformis I mentioned that I was going to start some seeds of Monilaria pisiformis and that I thought the seedlings were going to be “super cute”.  Well what do you think?

Monilaria pisiformis 1 month old

Pretty cute right?  Pretty good germination too.  What am I going to do with all these Monilaria if they all survive?  I’ll have a tiny green army.

I’ve been very busy this month sowing seeds for the new garden.  Aside from my little succulent I also have seed going from Chiltern Seeds from England, some herbaceous plants from Silverhill Seeds from South Africa, I sowed seed from Plant World Seeds from England, a few batches of old seed I had stored in my freezer including some Clarkia seed from 2002, and Horizon Herbs from Oregon.  Right now I am also checking out Thompson & Morgan and Baker Creek Heirloom for vegetable seeds for my veggie garden.

I have a heating mat on my potting bench in the garage and once they germinate they come inside to the mud room.  Not the spiffiest of arrangements but it will do for now.  Once they get their first true leaves I’ll pot them up.  The weather has been warm enough here to bring them outside too.  At least during the day.

These Calceolaria fothergillii seedlings are so tiny I can barely see them.  Getting any seedling to blooming size is rewarding but something this tiny it will be doubly so.

Monilaria moniliformis

Monilaria moniliformis is cool enough to deserve its own transformation post as it is a bit more dramatic than Conophytums.  I posted about it last year in this thread Dormancy in Mesembs and I am happy to say that it has survived once again despite the fact that it always looks very dead while dormant.  Not only did it survive but this year it has multiplied.  Last year I had just five stems but this year each stem has branched three times.

This is a large (compared to most Conophytums) Mesemb from north-western South Africa in an area called Namaqualand that receives just a few inches of water each winter.  While in active growth the leaves are covered in pearly little water storage cells and shriveled for eight or nine months while the plant is dormant.  It is often listed as being rather difficult to grow but it has been pretty straightforward so far.  Water in October and then regularly when in active growth and then in early spring when it starts to go limp and collapse withdraw water until it shrivels up.  Then ignore it until fall.  It does need high winter light to flower so hopefully when I move I’ll be able to provide better conditions and get some blooms.

I think they look like tragic little burn victims trying to crawl away from the fire when they are dormant.

day 10. I always make sure to get water all over the bodies of the dormant plants to soften the dried sheathes.

day 13. At this stage it was obvious they were branching. Yay!

day 13 close up. The second set of leaves are emerging.

day 14. Now that they are actively growing I usually snap off any old dried leaves that look like they are obstructing the new growth.

day 14. The first set of leaves are the little rounded collar on top of the previous years growth. The second set of leaves are the little bunny ears that emerge. Sometimes a third set of leaves grows as well. Up close you can see the little water storage cells.

day 15

day 15 close up.

day 17. The growth from day to day is pretty dramatic.

day 17 close up. The water storage cells are pretty clear in this picture. I'd love to get a camera with a better macro lens so I could get even closer.

day 23. At this stage of growth they bend toward the light trying to absorb as much light as they can to aid in flower production.

If you are into weird little succulents I definitely recommend looking for these guys at your local cactus and succulent show.  I picked this one up in San Diego a few years ago.  I’ve just received some seed from Silverhill Seeds for the species Monilaria pisiformis.  I’m imagining that the seedlings are going to be super cute!