Schwantesia

Family: Aizoaceae
Habitat: Southern Africa: in particular, Namibia and South Africa.
Cultivation: Schwantesias are easy to grow like many Aizoiaceae, as they are not very demanding in terms of soil though they need plenty of sun and air.
Curiosity: This genus is named after Gustav Schwantes, a German botanist who lived between 1881 and 1960.

KEY FEATURES

The Schwantesia genus groups a series of small succulents native to southern Africa, mainly Namibia and South Africa. Its habitat consists in dry, semi-arid areas, where it grows in crevices of quartzite rocks. Many species of Schwantesia are threatened by habitat loss.

Schwantesias tend to form little clusters of inconspicuous stems, each one bearing a rosettes of succulent, greyish-green leaves. They are low-growing plants and never exceed a few centimeters of height.

They have short, succulent stems that are also inconspicuous. Upon them, the leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, and the new leaves appear from within the old leaf pair fissure.

The leaves are the main attractive feature of this plants, along with their flowers. They are greyish-bluish green, succulent, with a triangular section and a rough surface at touch. Depending on the species, they can be more or less elongated – ranging from long “clubs” to broader forms. They have smooth edges, with a few exceptions in some species. In some species, moreover, the edges can be red.

The flowers are yellow, daisy-like, with numerous (up to 50 in some species!) long, narrow petals. Usually they don’t exceed 3-5 centimeters in diameter.

Fruits of Schwantesias are usually capsules. A capsule, in botany, is a dry fruit that opens when ripe. In Schwantesias, the capsules open in 5-6 valves when ripen, to release small, pear-shaped seeds.

These are the species of Schwantesia currently recognized to date.

VARIETY AND TYPES

These are the species of Schwantesia currently recognized to date.

  • S. acutipetala
  • S. australis
  • S. borcherdsii
  • S. chrysoleuca
  • S. clivorum
  • S. cognata
  • S. constanceae
  • S. dissita
  • S. herrei
  • S. loeschiana
  • S. marlothii
  • S. moniliformis
  • S. pillansii
  • S. pisiformis
  • S. proxima
  • S. ramulosa
  • S. ruedebuschii
  • S. scutata
  • S. speciosa
  • S. triebneri
  • S. watermeyeri

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TIPS FOR GROWING

Like other Aizoiaceae, they are undemanding plants and very easy to grow.
Here, as usual, are our cultivation advices:

  • The best position, for Schwantesia, is in full sun, in a well ventilated spot.
  • These plants can’t stand low temperatures. It is recommended to keep them always above 6-8°C.
  • Water carefully to avoid the risk of rot. Twice a week will be enough. If the plant is thirsty, you will notice that the leaves loose their turgidity.
  • These plants are not very demanding regarding the soil type. Use a mixture of peat and fine gravel or sand to obtain a very draining soil.
  • Repot every 2-3 years, choosing rather large pots.

The most common method of reproduction of these succulents is the leaf cutting. To perform it, cut a leaf at the base with a well-sharpened knife with a disinfected blade. Let the wound dry well (it may take about 2-3 days) and partially bury in a sandy soil at a temperature of about 20 °C, leaving it moist until the seedling has rooted well.

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