Marble Buttons - 20 seeds

Marble Buttons - 20 seeds


Conophytum calculus is a small, but very tough, low growing, stemless succulent with individual rounded “leaves” (fused together into one body) that multiply with age and cluster together to form a dome-shaped cushion. The spherically-shaped leaf bodies are completely smooth and hairless, characteristically opaque (non-transparent and non-glossy) and have a chalky-green to pale yellowish green color. The leaf bodies are always without any spot or detail and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. New leaves are formed inside the existing ones and when, after a year, the leaf body starts to die, a new one emerges from inside.

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The old leaf becomes a thin, dry, and smooth, beige colored sheath, sometimes turning black, which persists on the plant. It flowers in autumn and has spicy, clove-scented, golden yellow to dark orange flowers which are nocturnal. They only open at night.

Conophytums love to grow in pots, as they are naturally adapted to growing in cramped spaces. The easiest and most popular method of propagation is by taking cuttings. These should be taken a few millimetres below the growing point, which is where the base of the body joins to the woody stem/sheaths.

A slightly acidic growing medium is best, and can be made up using equal parts of sieved, well-composted potting soil and coarse river sand. Bright morning light and some shade in the afternoon is ideal for the plants. Use warm water in fine sprays to moisten the plants from autumn to spring and be sure to leave them dry and shaded in their dormant period during the summer months.

Propagation via seed is slightly more effort but definitely rewarding. Seeds are ready to sow as soon as the capsules are dry. Use the same soil as for cuttings, but use a 2mm sieve to sift the soil and sterilise in the oven for an hour at 180 degrees Celsius. Sow the seeds thickly and cover with a layer of fine gravel, no deeper than 2mm. Let the pots soak in water from below and cover with plastic or glass. After a week, leave the covering slightly ajar to prevent algae growth. Most seeds will have germinated in ten days.

After two weeks, remove the covering and mist the seedlings daily and soak from below once a week. During this time they should not be allowed to dry out, only until their first summer comes around, a time at which they should be watered only every two weeks. Seedlings are better off left together for at least the first year after which they can be pricked out in clumps or as individuals and transplanted