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Hey plant friends!
I’m Maria, the "Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady" with a mission to help you care for plants successfully, grow your indoor jungles, and cultivate more joy in your life. I've got tons of content for you here on the blog, on the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, and Bloom and Grow Youtube Show to help you keep blooming and keep growing.
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.
Growing Joy: The Plant Lover’s Guide to Cultivating Happiness (and Plants) by Maria Failla, Illustrated by Samantha Leung
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.
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.
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.
If you’re looking for caudex plants that are easy to care for, Matthew and Stephen suggests the following options:
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.
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