Habitat: South Africa
Cultivation: They require an environment in full sun and well ventilated, with minimum temperature of 6-7 ° C. Frequency of watering: regular (twice a week in the spring / summer).
Curiosity: In their native area, the Avonia roots were dried and then used to produce beer, honey and bread.
AVONIA KEY FEATURES
Although there is a big confusion for what concerns the classification of Avonie and Anacampseros, it is now believed that the Avonia is a separate genre with its unique characteristics. They are from tropical and sub tropical Africa regions, from which they are extended to the Americas. They are dwarf succulents that grow on the sunny slopes. They have large roots that form a fleshy caudex which comes out just above the ground level, remaining partially underground. The caudex can reach from 5 to 10 cm in diameter and it works as a water reserve. The aerial part develops instead in thin branches, scaly, and they offer the most possible protection from strong sunlight and they wrap themselves on each other taking the form of a low bush, or they widen from the caudex as the hair of the mythological Medusa. Caudex and roots are perennial parts, while the branches grow back in the spring.
The flowers are small, they can be white or purple depending on the species. The avonia flowering, which suddenly is covered with color, is a pleasant sight but unfortunately very short: the blooming, in fact, lasts a few hours only. In the Avonia Quinary, the most widespread , the flowers are self-fertile: the enthusiast can therefore replant and get new plants with little effort.
VARIETY AND TYPES
These are the varieties of Avonia recognized today:
- A. albissima
- A. dinteri
- A. gariepensis
- A. herreana
- A. mallei
- A. papyracea
- A. perplexa
- A. prominens
- A. quinaria
- A. recurvata
- A. rhodesica
- A. ruschii
- A. ustulata
- A. variabilis
The most common in the market is definitely the Avonia Quinary, that is due to its characteristic of producing self-fertile flowers which makes this plant easy to reproduce.
TIPS FOR GROWING
The Avonie are particularly sensitive when they are young and has not formed the caudex yet: this is the moment in which we must pay more attention to the frequency of watering, because the plant is not able to manage the water supply yet. For the proper formation of the caudex it will be necessary a few years.
These are our guidelines for a proper cultivation:
- Put the plant in full sunlight.
- If left completely dry it can tolerate temperatures till -5 °. However, we recommend during the winter to put it indoors for proper vernalization.
- In summer it has to be watered regularly but making sure that there is never standing water: frequent watering is ideal (2 times a week) but light, so that the soil has got time to dry out quickly. Then we suggest to reduce the frequency of watering in the fall and then stop completely during the winter.
- We recommend draining soils with perlice or pumice and, possibly, to use clay pots to facilitate the rapid drying of the soil. The fertilizer should be used with great care: please use a poor nitrogen one and in small doses, about half of those which are recommended on the label for the other plants.
- Being dwarf succulents, it is usually not necessary the repotting.
The reproduction is via seeds. The seeds are very small, almost invisible, and to germinate they usually need 10-15 days with a temperature between 15 and 21 degrees.