Cheiridopsis purpurea is a South African succulent. It grows in clusters of thick fleshy leaves. The leaves always grow in pairs. In fact, they grow conjoined and separate into 2 leaves as they get older.
The leaves are triangular and sometimes have teeth. The older leaves wither and turn into hard brown protective layers for the new leaves. The magenta-purple-colored flowers are the crowning glory of this succulent and bloom during the winter.
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How to Care for Cheiridopsis purpurea
It is not particularly difficult to care for Cheiridopsis purpurea but it can get a little complicated because it has its growing period in the winter, when all your other succulents are dormant.
However, they are pretty adaptive. Novice gardeners won’t find it too difficult to keep a Cheiridopsis purpurea alive. Here’s how you can care for them:
They need a lot of sunlight to grow. You can expose them to full sunlight. It depends on the climate in your area, but these succulents are used to the hot summers of Africa and can easily tolerate the milder climate in America.
They don’t need too much water, like most succulents. Since they are active during the winter, they need to be watered more frequently when the temperature is low. September onwards, you will need to water it once every 4-5 days.
Follow the same rule you do for all succulents—flood the pot with water and let it drain out. Water again only when the soil is dry.
Use a quick-draining succulent soil mix for Cheiridopsis purpurea. Add perlite to avoid water retention and enhance drainage. Like all succulents, drainage is extremely important. Water retention can cause rotting and fungal growth.
You need to repot often. This succulent tends to grow horizontally, so as soon as all the ground is covered, it will need a new pot to continue growing.
You can add fertilizer about once a month. Choose a well-balanced fertilizer like 20-20-20.
Organic and slow-release liquid fertilizers usually work well for Cheiridopsis purpurea. Adding loamy compost to the soil is also beneficial and increases the nutrient content of the soil.
As it is active in winters, it is quite cold-hardy. If you experience mild winters, you can even place it outdoors. However, if the temperature reaches the freezing point, move the plant indoors.
Pests and Diseases
Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about diseases with Cheiridopsis purpurea. It is a robust plant and is not susceptible to diseases that usually plague succulents.
Pest management is also very simple, as mealybugs are the only pests attracted to this succulent. If you see a fuzzy white growth in the nooks and crannies of the plant, immediately quarantine it to protect it from other plants in your home.
Remove the damaged leaves and use a pesticide on the rest of the plant to make sure there are no viable eggs left. If the succulent is heavily infested, it might be best to just get rid of the plant as mealybugs can be very persistent.
Propagating Cheiridopsis purpurea
Cheiridopsis purpurea can be propagated from both seeds and cuttings. For best results, propagate this plant in early autumn.
If you are propagating by seeds, prepare a potting mix similar to that of the adult plant and place it in a wide and shallow container. Leave about half an inch of space from the top, do not fill the container to the top.
Moisten the soil by misting it with water. Place all the seeds on top of the soil (you don’t need to bury them). Now cover the container with a plastic wrap or glass cover to trap the moisture without avoiding sunlight.
The germination process should start in a few weeks. Be very gentle with the plants because they are very delicate for almost a year.
If you are growing these succulents from cuttings, use clean tools and make precise cuts. Let the cuts heal and then plant them in a well-draining succulent mix. Water every week or until the soil is completely dry. New buds should sprout in a couple of weeks.