Ceropegia woodii f. variegata
C. linearis subsp. woodii
Ceropegia woodii is widespread in Canary islands, Africa, Madagascar, Asia and Australia. Its native country, however, is South Africa, where the plant grows on well-drained soil, in half-shaded spots, in partially dry climates. The variegata form is actually a nursery cultivar and can’t be found in the environment.
C. woodi is a herbaceous, succulent plant, often used as a houseplant for its highly decorative potential. It has a falling habit its leaves are heart-shaped! It is an evergreen vine, with its trail, wiry stems reaching 3-4 meters in length. The stems are dark, deep purple, very elegant, and the leaves look like the ones of cyclamens. They are dark green, veined in hints of silver-white. Leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, and the pairs are spaced 5 centimters from each other along the stems. The main difference between the regular form of C. woodi and the variegated one lies in the leaves: while the regular form has dark-green leaves, shaped like the ones of cyclamens and with a white, central pattern, the variegated form has a pale yellow as the predominant colour: of course there’s still some green, but it’s paler and it’s usually located in the central part of the leaves, near the petiole. Moreover, the “hearts”, in the variegated form, are less pronounced, and the leaves are almost rounded, with a little depression on the petiole. The variegated form has also pink and white areas, in addiction to the yellow parts, in these spots, chlorophyll is absent. The arrangement of the colours on the leaves will never be identical in different plants. This feature makes each individual absolutely unique and, for this reason, very sought after by collectors.
Its roots and stems may develop tubers. When they form on the stem, they grow from the nodes. The common name of this plant, “Rosary vine”, is precisely due to the tubers hanging from the stems. Flowers look the same both in the regular and the variegated form. They are very odd: bulbous, more enlarged at their base and narrowing towards their top, they are curved upwards and usually numerous on a stem. The peculiar blooming of C. woodi f. variegata is one of the reason why it’s very sought after. The blooming season occurs in late-summer or in Autumn. From the flowers, horn-shaped pods develop. They host little seeds, equipped with a parachute-like structure that has the function to help the dispersion of seeds through wind.
C. woody f. varigata forms striking trailing stems, so abundant that they end up to look like green, extremely decorative “green skyfalls”, if grown in hanging pots. Here below are our cultivation tips:
C. woodi f. variegata requires partial shade, with some hours a day under direct sunlight (2-3 hours).
This plant requires a minimum temperature of 5-8ºC. If the soil is maintained completely dry, it can also stand short frosts, down to -5ºC.
Water your C. woodi f. varigata regularly during the growth season: every week will be enough. Wait always for the soil to dry up completely before each watering and let the water drench completely through the pot: stagnant water might cause tuber rot.
Choose a cacti mix, very well-draining, better if further enriched with 50% of inert materials such as pumice, lapilli or clay. This substrate should be not so poor.
Fertilization should be carried out once a year using a specific product for succulents, better if rich in Potassium and Phosphorus and, as usual with succulents, poor in Nitrogen, as this element may cause the formation of excessively green, fragile leaves, hiding the attractive patterns of lighter colours of the variegated form and making the whole plant more sensitive to rot. You have just to dilute the product iin water during an irrigation.
Ceropegias are generally propagated by branch cuttings or either the tuberous outgrowth that grow among the branches. You have to detach these outgrows from the plant in the beginning of Spring and plant them, paying attention to keep the pot in a warm and humid place, as if it would be a cutting.
C. woodi has been discovered by John Medley Wood, a botanist who was working in Durban Botanic Gardens: a botanical garden in the province of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. After that, the remarkable beauty of this plant made it extremely popular among succulent lovers.
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