The Adenia spinosa plant belongs to the Passifloraceae family. It is native to some regions in South Africa and tends to grow in the form of a shrub. This plant has a thick succulent stem that then branches out, with each thick branch bearing several spines and leaves.
The leaves of this plant are dark green and thin and can be oval or elliptical in shape. The flowers are cream and yellow in color and tend to produce an oval-shaped fruit.
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How to Care for Adenia spinosa
This magnificent plant has a natural bonsai appearance. It is not a fussy plant to care for. It requires adequate light, water and feed, especially during its active months. If given proper care, it thrives and can grow up to a height of two feet.
The deciduous plant flourishes in full sun. It loves getting at least five to eight hours of direct light in a day. However, it is recommended to keep the plant shaded during the hottest times of the day.
Adenia spinosa will also grow in partial shade. If possible, place the plant container in such a manner that its leaves and stems receive direct light while its caudex remains under shade.
If the soil is moist, refrain from watering again until the soil has dried out. Stick your fingers into the top inches of the soil to confirm the dryness before you schedule the next watering day.
Once the colder months roll in, give a rest to your watering pattern. Most of the leaves of Adenia spinosa will be lost during these resting months, and the remainder of them will not require as much water. You can water the plant once every seven days.
The caudex needs a porous soil mix. Adenia spinosa thrives in a well-draining, gritty mixture that is rich in nutrients and has a mildly acidic pH. You can use any succulent or cactus potting mix.
If you want, you can add pumice stone to the mix to create aeration and allow drainage. You can also add perlite for moisture retention and drainage.
Adenia spinosa requires an active application of succulent- and cacti-friendly fertilizer during the growing season. Feed the plant every two to three weeks in spring and summer.
Once the climate starts to get cooler, the plant will enter into a dormant state. Suspend the application of the fertilizer during the fall and winter months.
Adenia spinosa loves a bright and warm climate. Although they have a high tolerance for heated temperatures, their ideal growing temperature lies around 70ºF.
It is best to keep the plant indoors during fall and winter since they are not frost-hardy. If consistently exposed to lower temperatures of 40ºF and below, the plant will begin to die.
The plant is appropriate to be grown in the 11a to 11b USDA hardiness zones.
Adenia spinosa does not particularly attract pests. However, during spring and summer, it is best to be on the lookout for mealybugs, red spider mites and other pests that commonly target plants.
In case you spot an infestation starting to take root, spray down the plant with a hose to get rid of the bugs and apply appropriate measures to ensure the infestation dies out.
The plant is sensitive to being overwatered. It is prone to suffering from fungal or bacterial diseases if care is neglected. Look for any signs of disease, like leaf spots, and provide appropriate treatment.
Adenia spinosa does not need to be regularly pruned. If you spot wilted or dying leaves, you can remove them. Besides aesthetic purposes, there is no other purpose for pruning.
Take precautions and wear gloves when pruning the plant since it has a poisonous sap and prickly thorns. In case your skin touches the sap, wash the area of contact immediately.
Repotting Adenia spinosa is not a frequent task. It can be moved into a new pot once every three or so years. The best time to repot the plant is during its growing season.
In case you notice the roots poking out from the pot, you will need to repot the plant sooner. It is a sign that the caudex needs room to grow. Usually, this overgrowth happens every two to three years.
Propagating Adenia spinosa
Propagating Adenia spinosa is fairly simple. You can use a stem cutting or sow seeds. Propagation from seeds is the easiest and the most preferred way to go about the process. This is because plants grown from cuttings may not produce a caudex.
However, if you want to grow the plant for seed production, propagate using cuttings. Make a clean cut and harvest a healthy cutting from the plant. Brush the base of the cutting with a rooting hormone to increase its chances of rooting. Place it in a rooting medium and transfer it to a potting mix when the roots emerge.
Seeds can be sown during the growing season. Since the rate of growth is slow, Adenia spinosa grown from seeds may take several years before they become established.