Sunday, July 21, 2013

An Old Friend Mesemb

Titanopsis calcarea

Woody plants can live a long time, and mesembs ARE woody plants.  Given the proper environment and care most mesembs can be with you for a long time.  My records indicate that the seed that created the T. calcarea shown at the right, was planted in 1995, making this old friend 18 years old.  I have a number of cacti that are older, but I believe this is my oldest seed grown mesemb.  I have a 27 year old lithops but I bought it as a plant.  

Growing Titanopsis calcarea has always been easy for me.  I give it full sun for up to 10 hours in the late spring and early summer, and regular watering from mid spring through early fall.  In winter I give it as much sun as I can, keep it on the dry side, and relatively low night temperatures, often as low as the mid 40's F. (6.5 C.)  I give it some water during the late winter and early spring as it goes into its flowering period.  It is now growing outside in its six inch (15 cm) ceramic pot, and seems as happy as ever.  

In a year or two it will begin to spill over its pot and I really don't want to go to a larger pot.   So, I'll be faced with reducing the size of the plant by dividing it, or at least pruning off parts of it.  For me, the words mesembs and pruning, have never seemed to go together, primarily because I've always had the space to transplant to a larger pot.  Recently I have discussed mesembs with a grower who has very limited space, and practices pruning and dividing as a normal part of their culture.  Sometimes you have to change your growing practices based on the situation and such will be the case with this old friend.  I really won't enjoy cutting it back, but I'll try to do it in a way where you'll never know I did it.  I do have experience pruning trees and shrubs, and mesembs ARE woody plants.        


  1. What a magnificent plant! How dare you cut it! :)
    This easily could be an award winning plant. Make sure to let it enter a competition before you prune it. I think you could also easily find new homes for the cuttings. :)

    1. Hi Rika. My old friend Titanopsis calcarea will be heading for it's place in the show tomorrow. Unfortunately, our mesemb section of the show doesn't get nearly as many plants entered as I would like, but I'll put a few in, including a collection of lithops. I'll take photos and share some on my blog. We'll talk about methods of dealing with an over grown T. calcarea when the show is over. Until then, I won't touch a tubercle on any of its little leaves. Promise.