Saturday, February 1, 2014

An Old Friend Mesemb


Rabiea  albipuncta


Some years ago I grew a number of different mesembs from seed, including Rabiea albipuncta.   They all had a common trait, they were possibly winter hardy in my area.  I wanted to add South African succulents to my winter hardy beds.  Ten plants of R. albipuncta were planted outside, but it wasn't the winter that was their challenge, it was rabbits.  The cute little rabbits that hopped around and through my yard seem to have a special fondness for South African succulents and nearly ate them all.   Of the 10 Rabieas, only one survived, and I removed it from the bed and potted it up.  That was 12 years ago and it is still with me.   Now, it's another of my "old friends."


  1. Stunning!!
    And even more so because you have grown it from seed!
    Perfect shape, perfect leaves. A dream :)
    I have a much smaller one and even though I find it is kinda okay (now I'm embarrased to show it after yours! :D ) it tends to dry off bottom leaves. How do you keep yours from doing it? Cold overwintering I guess...

    Knowing how easily Rabiea leaves get damaged it is just amazing how perfect your plant is :)

  2. Hi Rika, Now you make me *blush*. Thanks for the very nice comments. Yes, it is a nice plant, but I really haven't done anything special for it. However, two factors are involed in its general good health. (1) It gets a lot of sun. (2) It is potted in a rather heavy potting media, 50% well mineral soil, specially a sandy loam soil. The potting mix drains well but also hold some moisture for a relatively long time; this means it really never dries to the point where a lot of the fine roots die off. This is the type of potting mix Steven Hammer calls his "Mabel Mix." It's good for growers like me who don't water as regularly as they should. Succulents can tolerate going very dry, but it isn't the best way to grow them because they lose fine roots and then have to spend energy regenerating those roots. On the other hand, this is not a good mix for people who like to water and water frequently. Then, the mix stay saturated with water too long and the roots go without oxygen too long and, like the very dry conditions, this causes the loss of fine roots. The key for good roots is a potting mix that hold some moisture and air at all times. You really never want your mix to be too dry, or too wet. However, in terms of succulents, if you are going to make a mistake, too dry is better than too wet.
    Again, thanks for the comments, it's always nice to get an ego boost, especially from another skilled grower. :)

  3. Beautiful plant. I am going to buy seed of it this year.I only have one small Rabiea but it did flower although the flower could have opened more.