Counter to what the name might suggest our next succulent is not as prickly as its thorny peers, but just as chubby and charming. The Echeveria, a rosette forming succulent, belongs to the Crassulaceae family and is native to the arid areas of Central America.
Echeverias are closely related to Graptopetalum, and have been hybridized to form the Graptoveria. They’re so similar in fact that you’ll have a hard time telling the difference. In any event, these fat fingered succulents make very popular houseplants, due to their hardiness and beautiful colours.
Care: Echeverias like dry air and plenty of sun, so position them in spots where they get loads of sunlight for most of the day. They require well draining potting soil in containers that drain thoroughly.
Water: Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering. This will depend on the location of your plant and the conditions of your home so stick your finger in the soil to make sure it’s bone dry before you give it a good watering. During the winter months they require even less water. As with most succulents overwatering will cause your plants to rot.
Propagation: Echeveria’s produce offsets or baby plants that you’ll see popping up around the parent. Carefully pull these out and replant them. You can also propagate them by laying leaf cuttings on top of the soil. Sometimes plants can grow heavy and break off when you handle the pot. Simply stick them back in some soil and they should take again.
This large genus of succulents produce a myriad of colour varieties that can range from turquoise to a light lime or mint. These cool hues are perfect for creating a calm and tranquil atmosphere in your home. Some species have magical gradients like light green to pink or purple. Use these tones together for a surprising colour scheme that’s a perfect balance of serenity and zeal.
Philodendron Rojo Congo
Say hello to my new friend Philodendron Rojo Congo. We met a couple of weeks ago, when this curiously coloured character found its way onto my desk. It took me several google attempts to ascertain it’s species, but I wasn’t completely surprised to discovered it to be yet another Philodendron – the Araceae family does after all, have close to 500 different species.
The Philodendron Rojo Congo can be identified by the bright red colour of young foliage. As the plant ages, the lance shape leafs turn a deeper darker green while the leaf stems retain their deep Auburn hue.
From the ancient Greek “philos” which means “love” and “dendron”, meaning “tree”, the name philodendron describes the species’ propensity for winding around trees. But unlike it’s brother Monstera, the Rojo does not share this climbing character. Instead, like the Xanadu, this philodendron is self-heading, which means it grows upwards and outwards.
Native to South America, the Rojo Congo prefers partial to shady areas but does not tolerate cold temperatures. This low maintenance perennial makes an excellent houseplant thanks to its sculptural appearance and good looks, plus it keeps the air clean while doing so.
Caring for your Philodendron Rojo Congo
Names: Philodendron Rojo Congo.
Family: Araceae, native to South America.
Water: Regular or weekly interval, ensuring the soil remains moist, but never soggy.
Location: Shady, temperate areas. Diffused natural or indirect sunlight like a northern exposure as direct sun will cause leaf burn.
Soil: Fast draining acidic to neutral soil.
Toxicity: Toxic to pets and children.
Soft green droopy leaves:Your plant needs some water. Give if a good dousing and it should perk up quickly.
Yellow droopy leaves: Could be due to overwatering. Check your pot to ensure that it drains well and that your plant is not sitting in water. Always feel the soil with your finger before water. If the soil is wet, or moist, do not add water – this will cause the roots to rot.
Brown crispy spots on leaves: Leaf burn from too much direct sun. Move your plant to a bright but not sunny spot with indirect light.
Few leafs dropping off at the bottom but the other leafs look healthy: A healthy plant will at times drop off older leaves. If the rest of the plant is healthy, it should not cause worries.
Saggy, drooping leaves even after watering: Your plant may at some point get too big for its pot. If the plant looks otherwise healthy, but a little lethargic, consider wether it might be time to give it a slightly larger home. If this is not the case a nitrogen fertiliser could help rejuvenate it.
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Story + Photos by Barbara Cilliers