Faucarias

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Faucarias are succulents which are often seen for sale. Attractive plants with traingular leaves and big yellow flowers. They are a genus which readily interbreeds and so plants in retail outlets are usually labelled f.tigrina and are usually anything but f. tigrina. Often they are something  not so pure bred. But a review of the genus reduced faucaria to about only six
species from over twenty variants. many orf the old names are still around though.
Some of the hybrid commercial plants can still be very attractive if you make a good choice.

Faucarias come from arid environments known as succulent veld or semi arid scrub land. The environment is dry and sometimes very cold. The soils in these areas are not abundant in humus or nitrogenous material.
Like most south african succulents they can take a fair bit of cold and a fair bit of heat. But they need brightness and dryness to do well.
When you buy faucarias from a garden centre, really you are looking for plants which are compact and have a mat grey green sheen to the skin of the leaves. Look for plants which have nice chalky markings and featured leaves.
Features may include long whiskers, bone white edges, warts and in some cases variegation.

Faucarias are prone to low light much more than other mesembs and will grow in a straggly upright christmass tree shape with long leaves if they have been grown in low light. This is unatural they should look more like an alpine as
compact as a houseleek. Many nurseries have an obsession with loading the greenhouse windows with bubble pack. This is all very well but it reduces light levels considerably. If in doubt test with a photogarphic light meter inside and out on a sunny day.
If too much fertiliser has been used the leaves will be pumped up and glossy. Plants like these often rot off withjout warning and dont survive well.


Grow faucarias in bright light, in plastic pots which can be normal or shallow. Use a loam based sandy soil. In the UK John Innes No.1 compost is very close to  a good mix add about one third sand. It seems that in the US loam based composts are hard to find so use some garden loam plus sand and a small ammount of compost to create some humus content. A pinch of lime helps bring out the markings.

The real danger time for faucarias is when the humidity level is high and the temperature is high also as in June. At this time avoid watering heavily at all if the plants are not wrinkled or stressed looking then just leave them at alone at this time. They tend to stop growing in the summer anyway and mainly grow in spring and fall. Most faucarias flower in autumn often bearing several big yellow flowers which open in the afternoon.

Faucarias are not self fertile and rquire two plants to make seed. The flowers start off male and become female over a period of four to six days. Pollination is done from a new flower to an old one. The centres of the flowers can be seen to change. Growing from seed is easy and takes about two years to a decent size. Some specimens can flower straight away some take a while.














Some of the best faucarias are true species.
True f. tigrina which has whiskers and chalky spot markings on the leaves.
F.tuberculosa which has white tiped warts on the leaf centres.
F.boscheana which has bone white leaf edges.
F. Smithii which has pink tinges.
F. Candida which has big white flowers.

If you really like thes plants and want diferent forms think about growing
stomatiums. They have a nice diverse range of forms and scented night flowers.













Another close relative carruanthus caninus makes a n attractive pot plant with
flowers on stalks.

 
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