Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pleiospilos Plethora, Part Two

The usual Pleios I see for sale are, of course, Pleiospilos nelii, the regular green kind, or with a slight magenta flush. The first I ever bought was this species. It's growing a new set of leaves right now:

And here's the top view, so you can see the newly emerging leaves a little better.

And as I mentioned in Part One, everything gets the same nametag, "Pleiospilos nelii"- even when it is clearly NOT a nelii!

Check out the one on the left. If that's a nelii, I'm Dr. Who!
Even the pleio on the right looks a little suspicious to me, the leaves are angled and not entirely round....

So I re-read the section in Doreen Court's excellent tome, "Succulent Flora of Southern Africa", to try to figure it all out. The revised edition just came out, so it has all the new names and explains what has been moved to where. On pg. 47, for those who are following along in their books, many Pleios were sent to genus Tanquana in 1986, while 3 others were exiled to Titanopsis Land.  Pleiospilos now has 2 subgenera. The first, Pleiospilos, is unbranched or only slightly branched, and includes nelii, bolusii, and simulans.  The second is branched and is called Punctillaria. There is only one species, compactus, which has 5 subspecies.

At this point I admit to some confusion as to what I am actually growing....But hey, they are all cared for in the same way, and they all have those wonderful polka dots.

Now is that a "come hither" look or what??


  1. The living rocks keep being enchanting in a way! The thin one looks like a compactus for sure, and the one next to it is reminding me of bolusii. Still think the last one may be simulans/bolusii, bothers me a little how keeled it is, simulans should be flatter, but time will tell I think. LT

  2. Yes, I think I just need to wait and see how they grow and bloom....

  3. You're not dr. who, maybe some seeds got mixed up? They sure are cool looking plants though, and the dots are very nice. The one in the first two photos sure does look fat! Lol

  4. It is fat isn't it?? And I suspect a lot of these that are sold at nurseries are, in fact, hybrids. Still, since they take the same care, I suppose it's really an academic question. But I would like to find out someday!

  5. I've got a question about P. nelii that I hope you can help me with. I just impulsively bought one off the $2 rack at K-Mart, since it was such a beautiful and unusual plant. It has a drying-up flower, two pairs of leaves, and some new-looking growth way down in the center. The older leaves don't look like they're planning on drying up anytime soon. Also, it's in a very shallow pot, and I am concerned about it. Should I immediately re-pot this plant, and is it okay for me to water after re-potting in its current growth stage? I don't want to kill this lovely plant, and I've read a lot of conflicting information about what times of year I should water it...

  6. Hi, Kat, I hope I can help you. I grow my Pleios both indoors and outdoors. They should be in pots that allow for root growth, I'd say the depth of the pot should be at least double the height of the plant. The soil can be basic cactus/succulent soil. If you don't have that, regular potting soil with added perlite or pumice can work in a pinch. After repotting, wait 3-5 days before watering, so the roots can heal. Regular waterings here (the sunny Southern US) are every 7-10 days, with slightly acidic water (5.5pH is good) and every so often, a tad of diluted cactus fertilizer.

  7. I should also add that Pleios are different from Lithops in that they can have up to 3 sets of leaves growing simultaneously, no problem. But once they get to 4 sets, I've seen rot set in pretty fast. A rotting leaf can be surgically removed with a very clean sharp knife. Hope this helps! I'll probably be publishing a Pleio update soon....