While there were oodles of Lithops at Steve’s place, what was truly special was the sheer quantity of amazing specimen Conophytum. They were all just starting to wake up for the winter growth season, and beginning to bloom.
It was interesting to talk Conos with Steve and Oakes and compare their seasonal wake ups to mine. With my plants in the greenhouse, when I visited a month ago my conos and lithops were all still asleep. Nights were still warm, and day time temps were still hitting 100. The open-side greenhouses and his location closer to the coast than I am meant his nights were cooler and his plants were waking up.
The Conophytums pictured here are all specimens whose tags I couldn’t read or didn’t see. I am very guilty of being told latin names in the moment, thinking that surely I’ll remember that one, and then forgetting it within 5 seconds of hearing it.
Steve had many gorgeous plants, and while several of these might look close enough to a species you recognize to name them as such, there were also many hybrids. Selecting for color of flower, body pattern, or color from such a wide array of species makes for some very neat combinations.
With so many textures, colors, and growth habits, these tiny plants were extremely varied the more you paid attention to the little details. Do they clump? Branch? Develop long necks for each plant body? Are the flowers a different shade at the center, are they a flat color, or do they shine?
These were a hybrid with Conophytum cratorum, but what the cross was, I couldn’t tell from the label. Beautiful little pink flowers.
Conophytum are very seasonal growers, looking their best in winter either right as they start blooming, or right after they divide and before their protective papery covering develops for summer. The conophytums I was seeing at Steve’s place were all just waking up, so they were in varying stages of growth or flowering.
Most of the Conophytums I saw were at least several years old, with many being multiple decades old. A few plants were even older than I was!
Unlike Lithops, Conophytum often have distinctly different leaf shapes, some being flat, some angular, and forming in different growth habits. The long necks of the plant cluster above could be left as they are, or potentially divided to create new clusters. I find old clumps like this to look impressive, and be a sign of skilled cultivation, so I tend to leave my plants in clusters.
Naturally, none of my plants are anywhere near as impressive as these from Steve, but I can dream!
I’ll wrap this up with these adorably tiny little Conophytums with their violet blooms. I can’t decide if I like the violet or the orange flowers better.
I’ll be posting more Conophytums this week – I have a TON of photos of distinct species, so check back!