[IGS] P. xerophyton

Dear Mimi,

Anything to keep a chat going! You wrote:

> I have a Pelargonium xerophyton MV2685, a desert woody
>succulent who in my home just survives - it seems to go into dormancy
>during winter, dropping almost all leaves, then I keep it fairly dry and
>in summer some tiny leaves appear, that's all. It is all in all just 8
>cm high and a mini shrub qualifying for the bonsai competition. I have
>it potted up in half sand half soil and now I would like to know more
>- how to make it grow (more)
>- how to entice it to bloom
>- how to treat it better (should I continue watering in winter for
>I have been very scarce with water since I am afraid for rot in such a
>desert type little plant.

In nature it is growing during the cool time of year and is dormant when
temperatures are high (40 to 50 C). I suspect it may be the lack of light
together with light watering that makes it drop leaves in winter. In
Holland it may be best to treat it as a summer grower. I know that
nurseryymen do that here to get plants up to shipping size. Like many of
the succulent pels it can be kept growing all year even though a period of
dormancy is recommended. So, try giving more water in summer, lots of
direct sun and a dilute fertilizer. It will grow, but not rapidly and it
will get lots of green foliage. In Holland it may be easier to let it rest
over winter. Maybe treat it as you would a Sarcocaulon - we had that
discussion recently.

In my new source of info, Van der Welt, they say it retains some foliage
all year in its habitat and may flower in either Spring or Autumn. So,
while it goes dormant to preserve moisture it still has one eye partly
open, waiting to burst out once it gets moisture. That's why it should do
alright for you as a summer grower. I am letting mine grow this summer and
it is doing fine. If the mix is really fast draining and contains not much
organic matter you should not be afraid to water it more often. A better
mix than yours of half sand, half soil would be a third of sharp sand, a
third of perlite and a third of pumice or, if you cannot get pumice, some
small grit or pebbles. In that mix some liquid fertilizer is needed.

San Diego, California

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