Astroloba spiralis subsp. foliolosa
Astroloba foliosa is native to Cape Provinces where the plant grows in Karoo region: a semi-desert area with a remarkable succulent biodiversity.
Astroloba foliosa is an uncommon and beautiful succulent belonging to the Asphodelaceae botanical family. The plant forms many offsets from the base and can reach up to 20 cm in height and 5 cm in diameter. The stem is a rosette of opposite dark green leaves, arranged in a pentagonal pattern. The leaves are triangular, curved outwards, smooth at the touch and of shiny color, slightly pointed at the apex. Blooming occurs during the rainy season and the blossoms are borne at the apex of the stem. The inflorescence is a raceme: it is actually an elongated stem which bears many solitary, equipped with a peduncle, flowers. The flowers are star-shaped, creamy white tinged with green or yellow. Pollination is carried out by insects or sunbirds and they form little, ovoid capsules as fruits, which contain small, black to brown seeds.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant in nature grows in the shade of other plants so the best exposure is in partial shade. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. Temperatures below 10 ° C can damage the plant so it is best to shelter it or place it in a cold greenhouse during the winter. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be a well-draining and porous soil, so you can use a standard cactus soil or a mix of fertile soil and sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. During the vegetative period you can water the plant every 5 days with half a glass of water, checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use cuttings. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C.
The name Astroloba, which comes from the greek words “Astros”, meaning “star”, and lobos, lobe, refers actually to the star-shaped lobes of its flowers.
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