Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mesemb of the Month: Argyroderma

Ah, those lovely "silver skins"--not so easy to grow, but so unique and beautiful. One of their colloquial names is "bababoudjies", or "baby bottoms"!
I have a solitary "Argy", and also this pot of Argies, which are growing in a clump. They weren't identified when I bought them (just a tag that said, "succulent", duh!). I'm thinking they are actually A. congregatum, which do grow in clumps. Could be A. delaetii, framesii or pearsonii, though, because I've seen them clump also, and frankly, they all look pretty darn similar. They are definitely not A. fissum, as those have long, finger-like leaves.

Argies come from the northwestern part of the Western Cape Province in South Africa. They like quartz gravel flats and sunny hillsides. They must be kept very dry in summer, and a little shaded. They'll wrinkle up a bit, but fear not, when they come out of dormancy, they plump up like these.

I can't stress enough how Argies don't like much water. If you take a closer look at the central clump, you'll see what happens if they have too much.
The two Argies on the bottom handled a normal watering just fine. But the smaller one on top had too much, and it split. Chances are, it will survive, but even with a clump of Argies, some may want more water than others. And none of them want much! I only water mine once very two weeks or so, and then, sparingly. During dormancy, they only get a few drops now and then. If you think that's tricky, it is. These are not the easiest mesembs to grow, but they are utterly unique.


  1. Hi Marla,
    What do you use to water these plants? An eye dropper?

  2. Eye droppers can work very well with these plants, and with Lithops, too! Water at the plant/soil interface, not on top of the plant. Argies seem to want even less water than Lithops. I only use eye droppers for watering if one plant in a group needs water but the others clearly don't.

  3. Awesome article!
    So you never water them thoroughly? Like till water comes out of the drainage hole?

  4. Not these guys, David. I notice that they are super sensitive to too much water. On the other hand, I live in a very high humidity environment, and Argies grown in drier environments might like more water. You just have to experiment and see what type of watering they like best. Very porous, quick-draining soil will help prevent any watering mistakes, in any case.