Cotyledon

 In Category Cactus

Family: Crassulaceae
Habitat: Arid regions of Southern Africa
Cultivation: The cotyledon is simple to grow: It prefers full sun exposure and rather high temperatures, with the minimal above 10 ° C. Watering can be relatively abundant in summer (every 2-3 days) and then be gradually reduced in autumn and winter.
Curiosity: They grow slowly and do not produce flowers before three years of age. Their name comes from the typical shape of a spoon of its leaves, from the Greek word kòtile (cavity) because of its leaves  with a hollowed shape. It has got the same root as the word “cotyledons”, used in botany to indicate the two halves of the same seed or legume.

COTYLEDON KEY FEATURES

The genus Cotyledon shares with the other Crassulaceae a good spread in our country: they are very beloved plants and purchased for various reasons, ranging from cheap price, lack of thorns (they are therefore easier to handle than other genres), to the fleshy and decorative leaves. They are from South Africa.

The cotyledon have fleshy leaves, generally persistent and only in a few  species they are deciduous (destined to fall in the winter season) that grow in two by two along the stem, in a position opposite to the other. The shape is generally oval or round and the color is greenish-bluish, with different nuances depending on the variety, the age and on the state of health. Even the stem is fleshy. In young plants it is alone but over the years can also be highly branched.

The flowers have different shapes depending on the species, sometimes are gathered in bunches and have an orange color more or less intense. Thy come out at the center of the rosette formed by the leaves.

VARIETY AND TYPES

Below are some of the most common varieties of cotyledon:

  • Cotyledon orbiculata: leaves, large and fleshy, they have slightly red margins and grow in rosettes that are lower than the ground level. In this way the plant, with age, tends to cover the soil in which it is located.
  • Cotyledon tomentosa: the leaves have a typical thick white hair and fleshy tops. It remains small (maximum 30 cm in height) but has a very fast growth if it is watered with regularity.
  • Cotyledon ondulata:  it is easily recognized by the particular form of the leaves: these have, in fact, a wavy edge that makes them very decorative and very suitable, for example, to be inserted inside compositions.

Other varieties that you can find in the market are:

  • C. Lewisia
  • C. Macrantha
  • C. Ladismithiensis(comune soprattutto nella variantevariegata)
  • C. Barbeyi
  • C. Paniculta
  • C. Teretifolia

TIPS FOR GROWING

Like other Crassulaceae,  the plants of cotyledon are usually quite easy to cultivate and have a rapid growth. They are afraid of mealy bugs, but a well-ventilated area should be sufficient to avoid this risk.

Let’s see how to cure cotyledon.

  • Choose an exposure in full sun, preferably in a ventilated location.
  • They require a rather high temperature: it must remain, in fact, above 10 ° C. During the winter months it is therefore appropriate to move them in a sheltered place, even if you do not live in a particularly cold areas.
  • Watering can be abundant and regular in summer: the growth of plants will benefit. In autumn and winter it can be reduced up to be completely suspended.
  • The cotyledon have no particular claims as regards the ground: but it has to be well-drained and not too heavy. It can be fertilized from May to August once every 3-4 weeks.
  • The cotyledon grow rapidly and the roots, in a season, reach all the space at their disposal. For this reason it is better to pot them every spring. The first watering, after the repotting, shall be done by immersion of the vessel.

The multiplication of this plant can be done by cuttings, by seeds or by pollens. The pollen is probably the fastest and safest method. For the cuttings, it is recommended to use the period between May and June and use a stick fitted with at least 3-4 leaves.

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