Sarcocaulon multifidum

Sarcocaulons are an interesting genus of plants originating from South Africa and Namibia.

There are 15 recognised species and they belong to the family Geraniaceae, this being fairly evident when you see the flowers.

One of the most interesting species of Sarcocaulon is S.multifidum, which is a dwarf species with few branches that usually lie close to the ground. They have grey/brown horizontal branches, only about 10cm long, although some larger specimens can be found with branches up to 25 cm long. They rarely exceed about 6cm in height although in the larger specimens this can increase to 10cm.


Fig. 1 S. multifidum in habitat

S.multifidum, when in leaf, is a beautiful plant with a row of fine small feathery leaves running along the stems. Flowers are usually pinkish red, although I have also grown white flowered plants.

It has usually been assumed that Sarcocaulons are winter growers and this can be off putting to a beginner wanting to grow these plants. However in my experience I have found it best to rely on the plants themselves to tell you when they want to grow.

The way I approach it is to water the plants sparingly all year round, with the exception being when the new leaves are just starting to appear, when I increase the water. I keep watering until I notice the small leaves starting to brown off and wither, when I reduce watering back to the sparing regime.


Fig. 2 S. multifidum in flower

I have known this leaf up and leaf drop cycle to happen up to three times per year and I follow this watering regime no matter what time of the year it occurs. Naturally it is essential to have sufficient warmth in the greenhouse to be able to utilise this method and I would suggest that no less than 10 degrees Centigrade is maintained.

Don’t be afraid to give these lovely plants a try, they are fairly readily available and, being quite slow to grow, will not take up too much space.

Bob Potter
Toobees Exotics

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