Conophytum ficiforme: Care and Propagation Guide
Conophytum ficiforme, also known as fig buttons, is a very unusual dwarf succulent. These plants have highly reduced leaves and exposed surfaces, and flowers looking like miniature shaving brushes. Conophytum comes from the Latin word meaning cone plant, and ficiforme means having the shape of a fig. So it could be called a ‘fig-shaped cone plant’.
About Conophytum ficiforme
Conophytum ficiforme is a dwarf succulent, almost without stem, that grows in densely packed clusters forming compact mats or domes. It is grayish-green, about 2 cm long and 1 cm thick, with two distinct lobes, and is often depressed at the fissures (gaps). The fig-shaped body is often flushed with purple and has greenish to reddish spots or lines surrounding the fissures and crossing the lobes.
The flowers are much noticeable than the rest of the plant. They are pink, star-shaped with many linear petals that last long and bloom in autumn. They usually appear in the evening and are extremely fragrant.
Native to South Africa, this plant grows in rocky crevices within shady areas. These plants grow flat on the ground, emerging from the ground for only a few millimeters. Distracted passersby may step on them without realizing it and mistake them for rocks. They can be grown indoors if the proper conditions are provided and important care instructions are followed.
143 Types of Conophytum With Pictures
How to Care For Conophytum ficiforme
Conophytum ficiforme plants tend to require a good amount of bright sunlight during the day. However, they can experience sunburn if they are exposed to too much direct sunlight and hot temperatures.
To prevent this, you can keep the plant under the sun during the early morning. If you are growing them indoors, you can keep them on your balcony or windowsill. Once the temperature starts rising, you can shift them into the shade.
You should also avoid immediately exposing them to bright sunlight. Once their dormancy period ends, you can introduce them to sunlight slowly so that they do not burn.
These plants can grow well in warm climates. They can also stand the cold up to a certain extent but not if the temperatures become freezing.
You should water these plants thoroughly and regularly during their growing period which usually takes place from fall to early spring. Watering them once a week or even in two weeks can set a good routine for them.
However, make sure you do not overwater these plants as this could lead to root rot. You should wait for the soil to become dry before you water the plant again.
These succulents tend to enter their dormant state in late spring that can then last throughout summer. At this stage, you should reduce or avoid watering to let the plant rest. If required, you can water it lightly once a month.
Conophytum ficiforme plants require porous and well-draining soil that can quickly get rid of excess water without retaining it or letting it collect. You can easily find a soil mix that is made for growing succulents in a local or online store.
You can also make this soil mix on your own by combining some potting soil with peat, sand, perlite and limestone.
To add to the draining element, you can place this soil in a large well-draining pot or one that has holes to prevent water from pooling in the soil.
These succulents do not require too much fertilizer to grow healthily as they can manage to do this on their own. In fact, you do not need to add any fertilizer until the plant has spent three years in the pot.
However, you can help promote its growth by adding in a bit of fertilizer right before its growing season as well as once it is about to bloom flowers.
You should use a fertilizer that does not contain too much nitrogen. Make sure you dilute it sufficiently before you feed it to the soil.
Pests and Diseases
Overall, you might not face too many issues with this plant in terms of pests and diseases. However, there are still some chances of pests like mealybugs which you can get rid of using a pesticide or insecticide. You can also try using rubbing alcohol.
Apart from these, caterpillars and snails might also get attracted to these plants that you can try to spot and remove.
Root rot and swelling can also take place if you overwater or overfertilize these plants. Discoloration can also take place in some cases, in which case you can change the light or soil conditions.
How to Propagate Conophytum ficiforme
You can propagate Conophytum ficiforme using either seeds or clusters.
Go through the following steps for seed propagation.
- Source the seeds from a reliable online store or from local nurseries.
- Fill a pot or container with the soil mix that is porous and well draining.
- Sow the seeds into this soil. Do not sow them in too deep.
- Cover the seeds with a small amount of sand to prevent water pooling.
- Water them well and wait for a month for the seeds to germinate. You can then reduce the watering level.
You can plant clusters through the following process.
- You will need to cut out leaf clusters from a mature plant. Make sure you include the roots in these clusters along with a couple of leaves.
- Prepare a pot with enough well-draining soil and a large enough container.
- Plant one cluster in each pot.
- Water the soil regularly and provide gradual sunlight to allow the plant to grow healthily.
You can also try using stem cuttings and planting them into the soil using the same method. Make sure you cut them evenly.