T. paniculatus is native to Cape Provinces and Namibia where the plant grows on rocky slopes and in the parts of arid southwest Africa that have winter rainfall.
T. paniculatus is a tree-like succulent belonging to the Crassulaceae botanical family. The succulent tends to grow in clumps and is the largest of the tylecodons. The stem is stout, thick, peeling and is greenish yellow in color with a yellow papery bark. The succulent can reach up to 1.5 m in height and 0.6 m in diameter. The plant is a caudiciform so it forms a thick and woody subterranean caudex, from this the plant branches. The leaves are spirally arranged, obovate to lanceolate, bear in clusters towards the tips of the stems. The leaves are fleshy, bright green in color and deciduous in summer. Blooming occurs from the late spring to the summer and buds are borne at the apex of the plant. The terminal inflorescence is a panicle. The flowers are funnel-shaped, from orange to yellow in color. The fruit is a capsule containing tiny, light brown, seeds.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 6°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
The name of the genus Tylecodon is an anagram of “Cotyledon”, another genus of succulent plants from South Africa. Tylecodon were considered part of the genus Cotyledon up until 1978, when they were classified as a separate genus. The name “paniculata” it’s a Latin word and means “tufted” and it refers to the inflorescence of the plant.
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