Conophytum minutum

Synonyms:

The name “Conophytum minutum” has at least two main synonyms: Conophytum sellatum and Mesembryanthemum minutum.

Habitat:

C. minutum, like many other rare succulents, comes from South Africa. Here it grows in rocky areas with a prevalence of granite and quartz, in cracks in the rocks or wherever it can camouflage itself!

Description:

Conophytum minutum is a succulent dwarf belonging to the Aizoaceae family. It is perhaps the loveliest of all the Conophytum because of its very small size.

Its name, “Minutum” refers in fact to its small size: this plant reaches a maximum height of 1 centimeter!

The main characteristic of Conophytum is that they are not plants as we would expect them to be, i.e. with branches, leaves, stems and stalks. These plants are in fact formed by globular green-grayish stems, in the case of C. minutum almost perfectly spherical, with a small slit on the apical part. These stems are actually formed by two leaves fused together and it is they who carry out the photosynthesis.

From the small slit on the top of the stems, in Autumn, showy pink flowers sprout, much larger than the stems and with numerous linear petals. These beautiful flowers bloom during the day, are scentless and have a tubular corolla 8-15 millimeters long, which is like a small tube from which the petals branch off and which raise the size of C. minutum by more than double!

Cultivation:

Conophytum minutum is the perfect plant for beginners: it is in fact very resistant and needs no special attention.

Coming from the southern hemisphere, C. minutum grows actively in Winter, especially from late Winter to late Spring. Under favorable conditions, it continues to grow in summer as well.

It requires well drained soils, like all succulents. If you live in a warm climate zone, C. minutum is the perfect plant to decorate your rock garden, as long as you can protect it from excess winter humidity, covering it if it rains too much to avoid root rot.

Conophytum minutum needs very little water, even in summer. Excessive water can cause ruptures of the little stems and root rot. In summer you will only need to water it when it wrinkles. In winter you should water regularly: water needs are higher during the growing season.

Exposure to light should be direct. C. minutum can withstand temperatures down to -2ÂșC below zero. It prefers ventilated environments.

You won’t need to repot C. minutum frequently as it is a dwarf plant and doesn’t become very big. Fertilization should be done once a year with a specific fertilizer for succulents. If you can’t fertilize it, this plant will be fine: it is used to poor and rocky soils in semi-desert areas!

Propagation:

C. minutum can be propagated both by cuttings and seeds.

Curiosity:

Plants belonging to the genus Conophytum have sedative properties due to some alcaloids present in their tissues.

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