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Cacti and Succulents: Alionopsis or Why can't I grow a nice mesemb!

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newtonsthirdlaw
Arlington, TX

January 18, 2013
7:11 PM

Post #9389753

I keep trying with mixed results. I have come to the conclusion that indoors with no temp. variation does not work for me. I also still have them die in the summer heat here. Here are two Alionopsis bought last spring from Lowe's. I suspect I have been too stingy with the water. Wonder why one is so much more pitiful than the other. I did step up the watering and see improvements in both. One day I will figure out how to grow more of this group!

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newtonsthirdlaw
Arlington, TX

January 18, 2013
7:13 PM

Post #9389757

2nd

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Little_things
Port Elizabeth
South Africa
(Zone 10a)

January 18, 2013
9:02 PM

Post #9389814

Hi, I think your golden periods will be around fall and spring. If the summer night temps do not go below 18C (more or less) they will not grow, or rather the roots will mostly go inactive, just like cold dark winters. If they plump up when given water they are still active, but you may give them a little more water. I have also noticed recently that my plants always react immediately when transplanted, and come to realize that my soil might have been keeping to little moisture, I added coconut peat/coir. My main issue was our water has a great buffer action and show very little reaction when I try and lower the pH with vinegar and living by the sea the rainwater off the roof also gives me issues, so recently I switched to bottled water and lower the pH to 6-6.5 in order to improve the ability of the plant roots in utilizing available nutrients. The pH of the soil remains around 7.

Because Aloinopsis has a tuberous root, the roots may be damaged but the plant will survive on the tuber for a while, so pots need to take into account space for tuber, but you would also like to see the leaves plump up with watering - too much and they will burst. Now in summer I mist my plants almost every evening to assist in cooling down the pots, the mist water is gone in 15-20 minutes, but it drops the pot temps and thereby helps the keep the roots from dying/drying out.

Hope some of these observations may be of help or at least give some direction in thinking.
newtonsthirdlaw
Arlington, TX

January 19, 2013
6:52 AM

Post #9389972

I keep trying different things Rian and hopefully will figure out something that works here. Some SA plants are doing ok as completely house plants but I would not say they have put out much growth. Some mesembs decline over time here and I suspect its because they do not get enough warmth in summer in my air conditioned home. Early this spring I am going to move most of them out in a shady spot and try to acclimate them to the weather here. I am learning and it's not as easy to keep them going as I thought!
On a positive note my two pots of baby toes are blooming but those were out in a semi shady spot all summer.
C
Little_things
Port Elizabeth
South Africa
(Zone 10a)

January 19, 2013
10:39 AM

Post #9390149

I think consensus is that when night temps reach 75F, you can bring them in and leaves them in a light area until the temps drop (without water) and then taken them out and give them a good watering to see what happens, once you see growth you are good until it warms up again. Not sure what winter brings, but cold/frost need protection. Many of them do best with morning sun and afternoon shade, and the length would also depend on the season.
newtonsthirdlaw
Arlington, TX

January 19, 2013
11:04 AM

Post #9390177

So you think they might do ok with being out for spring and brought in when it gets hot, which is around May or spring here.
C
newtonsthirdlaw
Arlington, TX

January 19, 2013
1:43 PM

Post #9390358

Titonopsis in afternoon shadow.

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Little_things
Port Elizabeth
South Africa
(Zone 10a)

January 19, 2013
8:57 PM

Post #9390829

Nice T. calcarea.
Let me give you my reference points. We are now in mid summer, our average Temps since beginning is 86F with the highest 100F on a few occasions and humidity starting at average of 85% in the morning falling to 50% around 2pm, then climbing again. I think the difference may be the night temps on average is 64F, 68F being a oddity. This means they cool down sufficiently at night to grow in some cases. I have my whole collection under 2 30% nets with a layer of plastic in between, and recently I measured the lux to be around 2000-3000 in full sun under the net, where it would be around 10000 (guess) in full uncovered sun. The second layer is protection of the plastic against 100km/h winds we get from time to time. Many growers use 1 x 40% net.

I mist them nearly every evening and water them every 7-10 days. I never water enough to run through the pot. Of the 2000+pots, I have no issues, but as I said, nearly had, because I used too much perlite in some and it dried out too fast which cause the roots to die off.
newtonsthirdlaw
Arlington, TX

January 20, 2013
4:33 AM

Post #9390918

We have a very short spring with temps similar to your summer. Summer here has temps 102+ for months on end with night time temps dipping into the high 80's or low 90's. Imagine a mild version of hell. I do know some people keep mesembs alive here and keep them outside during the warmer months. I just haven't quite figured out how to do it yet. Plants like lithops, conos. and baby toes do ok indoors for about a year and then decline. Conophytum in particular seem to stop completing their life cycles when kept under constant temperatures alll year. I only started growing plants from your part of the world a couple of years ago so my experience is very limited. Plants that I have put out for the summer have done much better. The Titonopsis in the picture was put into a cactus bed in early spring. It didn't grow at all and actually shrunk and lost many leaves over the summer but with cooler temps it showed minor improvements and made the one flower. Not sure it would survive a colder winter which we do sometimes get but this winter it is fine so far.
C
Little_things
Port Elizabeth
South Africa
(Zone 10a)

January 20, 2013
6:06 AM

Post #9390952

I think you should maybe try and mail S. Hammer and ask for some guidelines. He will give you more direction I am sure.

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