Cephalophyllum is a genus of flowering plants from the ice plant family Aizoaceae. There are currently 36 species in this genus. They are perennial succulent plants that form low mats on the ground and are grown for their showy flowers.
Types Of Cephalophyllum Succulents
Cephalophyllum alstonii is well worth cultivating, considering it produces some of the finest flowers known in the Mesembryanthemaceae family and is probably the most beautiful “vygie” of all. The flowers are a vibrant ruby-purple color with violet stamens and their size ranges up to a remarkable 8-10 cm in diameter.
Varieties of Cephalophyllum alstonii:
Cephalophyllum Red Spike
Cephalophyllum caespitosum is a somewhat limp-leaved species with large flowers with many thin petals ranging in color from salmon to coppery or magenta with a paler center.
Cephalophyllum curtophyllum (Sickle Starfig)
Cephalophyllum diversiphyllum (Variable Starfig)
Cephalophyllum loreum (Thong Starfig)
Cephalophyllum parviflorum (Tygerberg Trailing Vygie)
Cephalophyllum pillansii (Redcentre Starfig)
Cephalophyllum purpureo-album (Fine Starfig)
Cephalophyllum rostellum (Saldanha Starfig)
Cephalophyllum spissum (Dence Starfig)
Cephalophyllum spissum is a slow, compact clumper with chubby, 5 cm long, 3-angled finger-like greyish-green leaves, anisophyllous when young (having the leaves of a pair different in shape and size). It blooms twice a year with showy flowers nearly 4 cm across, displaying unusual salmon-rose-colored silky-rayed petals and a showy white center with colorful anthers.
Cephalophyllum tricolorum (Purplecentre Starfig)
1,000 Types of Succulents [With Pictures]
How to Care for Cephalophyllum Succulents
Ensuring that the Cephalophyllum succulent grows well and in a healthy manner is essential, requiring you to maintain the following key care conditions.
Cephalophyllum requires full and bright sunlight so that it can thrive. If you are growing this plant in a pot, make sure you keep it on your balcony or a windowsill that receives this kind of full sunlight for several hours a day.
However, you should try to restrict these hours of full sun to the morning hours. If the temperatures go beyond 90°F or 32°C, you will need to provide some shade in the afternoon.
Since Cephalophyllum is succulent, the leaves are thick and fleshy enough to store water for a long time, which is why this plant does not require frequent or even regular watering. As long as you can manage to water the plant up to twice a month, you should be okay, although you might need to water it a bit more at the beginning.
A good way to see if it needs watering is to confirm that the soil is completely dry. Do not overwater the plant as this can lead to root rot.
The soil should be extremely well-draining so that all the extra water can seep out of the pot. You can make use of a pot with a drainage hole to help ensure this.
You should also ideally use sandy and loamy soil that has a slightly chalky texture. Make sure the soil is also a bit loose. Its pH can either be a bit acidic, neutral or even slightly alkaline as long as it falls within the 6.1-7.8 range.
Cephalophyllum does not need too much fertilizer. Right when the growing season starts, you can feed it with organic fertilizer or a fertilizer that contains low levels of nitrogen. Make sure you also dilute it so that it does not prove to be too strong.
The Cephalophyllum plants are hardy in USDA plant hardiness zones 9-11. You should ideally propagate these plants in spring or summer. They also continue growing through the winter, although they prefer staying dry during this season, so make sure you water them rarely.
The plants usually tend to flower in winter and spring.
As long as you provide good care conditions with sufficient ventilation, you should be able to avoid pests and diseases, although there are still some common ones you should watch out for. These include mealybugs, red spiders, scales, aphids, thrips, sciara flies and other insects.
If you notice some of these, you can apply an insecticide to get rid of them or simply use some natural oils that can repel the insects from the plant. You might also need to repot the plant if the disease has spread a bit.
If the plant ends up growing too unruly, you might need to prune back some of the older growth. Make sure you also routinely cut off dry and shriveled parts of the plant, including flowers that are past their bloom. A good time to do this is at the beginning of the growing season.
This can help ensure better subsequent growth.
This succulent tends to grow quite quickly, so once it reaches a certain size, you will need to repot the plant into a bigger pot. See if the roots are growing out of the pot or if the growth rate slows down to confirm that you need to repot the plant.
Make sure you use fresh soil and keep the roots intact during this process.
Propagating Cephalophyllum Plants
You can either propagate Cephalophyllum using seeds or cuttings. If you are using seeds:
- Prepare the seeds and keep them moist in a tray before you sow them in the soil.
- Prepare the pot, fill it with the soil mix, and add other materials if required.
- Sow them in the soil and cover them with a thin layer of sand.
- Wait for up to two weeks for the seeds to germinate and ensure that you provide suitable care.
If you are using cuttings:
- Use a knife or shears to remove a branch with its roots in place. Do this in the month of April or May.
- Dry this branch out for a day or two, cut it into stems and dip them in a rooting hormone to quicken the growth of roots.
- Sow the cuttings in the soil and wait for the plantlets to grow.
- You can then transfer each plantlet into a separate pot.