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Caudex Plants with Plant Daddy Pod, Ep 172 - Growing Joy with Maria

 

 

Are you ready to add some unique, eye-catching beauty to your plant collection? Meet the caudex plant—also known as the foot, Stephania erecta, or even the Potato Plant. While these plants may be stunning, they can be a handful to take care of without proper knowledge. Join us as we explore the world of caudex plants with expert guests Stephen and Matthew from the Plant Daddy Podcast. From the well-known Stephania erecta to other varieties that are more accessible and easy to care for, we’ll share everything you need to know to be successful with caudex plants.

In this episode, we learn:

  • [05:07] Are you pronouncing “caudex” correctly?
  • [06:11] Who are Stephen and Matthew of Plant Daddy Podcast?
  • [11:59] What is a caudex plant and why is it called a “potato plant”?
  • [16:21] Finding caudex plants in the wild
  • [18:31] Using caudex plants as decorations
  • [20:21] How Stephania erecta became so popular among caudex plants
  • [23:29] Did Stephania erecta live up to its hype?
  • [25:04] Challenges to growing and caring for Stephania erecta
  • [30:05] Are you looking for hand-knitted, sustainably made weighted blankets?
  • [32:57] Where to find high-quality seeds and edible flowers
  • [34:55] Some tips on how to grow your own flowers!
  • [35:44] Maria’s personal experience with growing Stephania erecta
  • [37:16] What other caudex plants are easy to grow?
  • [37:35] Caudex plant #1: Stephania kaweesakii
  • [38:18] Caudex plant #2: Ant plant
  • [38:50] Caudex plant #3: Dioscorea
  • [39:25] Caudex plant #4: Bigfoot plant (Gerrardanthus macrorhizus)
  • [40:00] Legalities and considerations when buying Stephania erecta
  • [43:05] How can you verify whether the caudex plant you bought is legal?
  • [46:09] What is the best way to care for caudex plants? (Hint: Research is key!)
  • [50:02] How to water caudex plants correctly
  • [56:58] Choosing the right soil for your caudex plants
  • [01:01:10] Where to find wind chimes for your garden or house
  • [01:04:02] Get quality gardening products for your next gardening season
  • [01:06:03] What do we need to know when caudex plants go dormant?
  • [01:10:46] What is ant plant and why is it easier to maintain?
  • [01:19:59] Other caudex plant types (ficus, tropical, botanical, etc.)
  • [01:21:00] Matthew and Stephen’s plans for their plant collections in 2023

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What are Caudex Plants?

Caudex plants, or caudiciform plants, are characterized by a thickened stem or root stock at the base of the plant. This thickened base serves as a storage structure for resources, allowing the plant to generate new growth or sprout new shoots in case of damage. 

Caudex plants can be found in many different plant families and across various ecosystems and growing conditions. Stephen and Matthew noted that caudex plants are often mistaken for potatoes in the dirt due to their thick, nabby base.

In the horticultural and recreational sense, caudex plants are grouped with other thickened storage units such as bulbs, rhizomes, and tubers. 

Caudex plants also come in a diverse variety of looks. Overall, they offer a unique and interesting architectural structure, making them a popular choice for growers and plant enthusiasts.

 

Why is Stephania erecta a Popular Caudex Plant?

According to Matthew,  the popularity of Stephania erecta can be attributed to its round leaf shape. This unique shape is similar to other popular plants such as pilea and hoya, which  gives it a specimen-like appearance, making it a relatively easy and affordable plant to grow.

Another reason for its popularity is its photogenic appearance. The plant’s blue-green powdery glaucous leaves make it a popular choice for Instagram and Pinterest photos. Additionally, the plant’s unique growth habit adds a bit of mystery and intrigue, making it a popular choice among plant enthusiasts.

However, growing this caudex plant can come with its own set of challenges. As Maria points out, there is often a lack of information on how to properly plant them, leading to confusion about how to proceed. Additionally, some may not show visible growth, making it difficult to determine the proper planting position.

Despite these challenges, the Stephania erecta continues to be a popular choice among plant enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned plant collector or new to the plant world, this caudex plant is definitely worth considering as a new addition to your collection.

 

How to Care for Caudex Plants

When it comes to your collection, it’s important to research the specific plant you have as care requirements can vary greatly between different types of caudex plants. In general, they tend to prefer well-draining soil and a lot of light. Many of them can tolerate at least a few hours of direct sunlight on a windowsill or even full sun outside. However, it’s important to note that some may burn if placed in direct, unforgiving sun in certain climates such as Texas or Arizona.

Caudex plants also need to be watered more heavily during their active growth seasons. They can often tolerate drying out between waterings, but it’s important to keep an eye on the foliage. If you notice it wilting or dying back, it’s a sign that the plant needs more water to prevent dormancy.

It’s also important to incorporate perlite, pumice, and grit into the soil to ensure good drainage, and to add nutrient-rich compost to give the plant the resources it needs during its active growth season.

With the proper care, caudex plants can make a unique and beautiful addition to any garden.

 

Caudex Plants for Beginners

If you’re looking for caudex plants that are easy to care for, Matthew and Stephen suggests the following options:

  1. Kaweesakii (Stephania kaweesakii): This plant, formerly known as Stephania Sp. ‘Nova’, is similar in care to Stephania erecta but has a more compact growth habit. It produces one or two or three showy leaves that are known for their beautiful blue color.
  2. Ant plant (Myrmecodia): This plant is a unique caudex plant that forms a symbiotic relationship with ants. It provides the ants with a home while the ants protect the plant from herbivores. These plants are easy to care for and are becoming increasingly popular in garden centers and among plant enthusiasts.
  3. Dioscorea: Also known as elephant plants, Dioscorea is often found in succulent shops and is known for its large, geometric, jagged caudexes that resemble a tortoise shell.
  4. Bigfoot plant (Gerrardanthus macrorhizus): This fast-growing caudex plant is known for its ability to quickly shoot up leaves. It goes dormant and then comes back, making for an interesting addition to your collection.

In addition to these options, there are also many other types of caudex plants that are easy to take care of. It’s always best to research the specific needs of any plant you intend to grow, as different species may have different light, soil, and water requirements.

 

Mentioned in our conversation:

 

Thank you to our episode sponsors:

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