Habitat: South Africa, South-eastern Namibia
Cultivation: Easy. Plenty of light, scarce watering, mild temperatures and a well-draining substrate will do well.
Curiosity: Its name was chosen in honor of Professor K. Dinter, to which the suffix was added, that in Greek means “flower”.
Dinteranthus is a genus of succulent plants in the family Aizoaceae, native to South Africa and Namibia. These plants are really similar to Lithops, either in the aspect and the cultivation tecniques. It’s really appreciated for their extremely unusual and ornamental shape. The most common species found in commerce is undoubtely Dinteranthus vanzylii.
Their habitats are very arid areas, with the little rain all concentrated in March and also during the Summer. They usually grow in sand and gravel among quartz stones, at a variable range of altitudes.
Many species of Dinteranthus have been given common names such as “Living Stone”, “Split Stone Plant”, “Green Stone Plant”, “Stone Plant”. That’s because of their odd appearance: they actually look more like pebbles than real plants. This shape is essential to fit in the harsh conditions of their natural environment, where they are able to resist to extended periods of drought and to avoid being eatten by herbivores.
Dinteranthus are tiny plants, as they don’t exceed 4-5 centimeters in height. They can be either solitary or clumping plants and are usually stemless or with a short, inconspicuous until invisible stem. Unlike Lithops, they grow completely above ground, with the exception of D. vanzylii, which is partly subterranean like Lithops, with the top of each leaf exposed above soil.
Their leaves are arranged in opposite pairs that look like small beaks. Their shape is semi-circular and they are always grey, with the upper part blotched in different colours, usually reddish but also orange or purplish depending on the species. From the fissure between the two leaves of the pair, new leaves sprout off, always in a opposite-arranged couple, oriented perpendicular to the older leaves.
Also from the central fissure in the “beak” of leaves, the flowers sprout. They are usually bright yellow, with abundant petals, similar to yellow daisies. After blossoming, old leaves dry up and leave space to new ones. In this moment, plants shouldn’t be watered until the old pair of leaves has completely dried up. Their fruit is a pod.
VARIETY AND TYPES
Here below are the species of Dinteranthus recognised to date.
- D. inexpectatus
- D. inexpectatus
- D. margaretae
- D. microspermus
- D. pole-evansii
- D. vanzylii
- D. wilmotianus
Check our online shop to find them!
TIPS FOR GROWING
Dinteranthus are not difficult to grow. Here below are our cultivation tips:
- Put your Dinteranthus in a bright spot: they need the maximum amount of light possible.
- Watering should be regular all over the year but unfrequent: once a week is ok, always waiting anyway for the soil to dry up completely. During the coldest Winter months, keep the plant completely dry until it looses its old leaves (this happens in March-April). Pay attention to root rot.
- Dinteranthus should be kept at temperatures above 5ºC. To stay safe, shelter it during the Winter, keeping it completely dry.
- Choose a well-drained substrate, possibly with an abundant mineral part, a high degree of grit, coarse sand, and pebbles.
- If you choose to grow them outdoors, put them in a rocky garden, in dry rock crevices, well exposed to direct sunlight, and shelter it from Winter rains and low temperatures.
- Fertilization should be carried out once during the growing season, using a product high in Potassium and low in Nitrogen, diluting in water half the dose recommended in the product label.
Repotting is not ferquently necessary, as Dinteranthus tend to remain small. Choose small pots, as plants grow in larger ones have shown a less developed flowering.
The propagation is usually carried out through seeds or dividing older clumps. The easiest method is undoubtely the division of the clumps. Nevertheless, also sowing is not difficult and usually gives good results.