The Conophytum ficiforme is a perennial succulent species from the Aizoaceae plant family of living stones, pebble plants or cone plants. Rocky crevices is the preferred habitat of the Conophytum genus.
Native to South Africa, the clump forming succulent Conophytum ficiforme grows within rocky crevices within partially shaded areas. They can be grown in containers indoors if the correct conditions are provided and vital care instructions are followed (i.e., soil type, watering and light).
Conophytum (genus) has the Latin meaning of cone plant and ficiform is the Latin meaning of fig shaped, so we could call it a ‘fig shaped cone plant’.
In their natural habitat slow growing Conophytums become dormant during the summer period and receive most of the watering during the mild winter rainfalls. The south west African climate does not have weather extremes and has low temperatures during the night which enables temperate regions to grow this plant easily enough.
Foliage: Like other mesembs the leaves are thick succulent water storage organs that grow from a single stem and a root system (named tapped root). The stem that helps keep the plant cool in hot weather has a tapped root and both parts sit under the soil. This particular living stone has a grayish green leaf with a fissure (slit) in the center. The leaves have a smooth texture and markings that can look kind of red in color. How green or gray the plant appears is dependent on the light it receives, the time of the year and the condition of the soil it grows in.
The clump forming habit of Conophytums enables them to produce more stems from the main plant which forms more lobed leaves. Leaves only grow up to an inch tall and an inch in length.
During dormancy the outer leaves sheath will dry up, ready for new growth.
Flowering: Within the center of the plant a single daisy like flower blooms during fall, usually white in color or pink and white. If you have a large cluster of Conophytum fictiforme plants and they all bloom together they look very spectacular.
Displaying: It’s advised to grow and display these in conservatories, greenhouses or on windowsills and other areas that provide a good balance of direct and indirect sunlight.
Care level:Most mesembs including this species do not need a great amount of care and attention enabling every day growers to grow them, although some conditions must be provided. Temperature drops and lack of watering would not create serious problems, but if you put cold temperatures with overwatering and lack of light, they’re not going to survive.
|Origin:||South – South-West Africa.|
|Botanical Name:||Conophytum ficiforme|
|Max Growth (approx):||Height and length 2.5cm – max.|
|Poisonous for pets:||Not known, but it’s unlikely a pet will chew on this type of foliage, although they could be curious.|
Conophytum ficiforme Care
|Temperature:||The Conophytum ficiforme can cope with various temperatures very well and temperature drops. Consistent temperatures of 65°F (18°C)- 75°F (24°C) will of course enable the plant to grow at its best.|
|Light:||A combination of direct sunlight and indirect light is best suited. A couple of hours of early morning sun or late afternoon sun is best rather than midday. During fall and winter, temperate regions get much less daylight length and this is the time light is important (growing period). If they dont get enough light they are likely to grow slower and blooms may struggle to appear, but nothing harmful should happen unless you water them too much. Some growers may use artificial lighting, grow lights.|
|Watering:||During the dormancy period in summer you’ll only need to water them slightly once a month – misting is even better. After they have bloomed during fall (Oct – Nov) you may begin to water them once a week, but do check if the top soil has dried out first, and if it’s not dry – dont water. The worst you can do for this plant is water it too much….it will kill it. Underwatering is not an issue and easy to notice when the leaves become wrinkly, just add water if they do, they will bounce back.|
|Soil:||Sandy and loamy soil is required, they need air and very good drainage, with a little water retention. A good mix would be 1 part gravel, 2 parts sand with 1 part loam. Ready made cactus potting mix is also fine to use, but I would still add half part sand and half part grit to the 2 parts cactus potting mix to encourage drainage and air circulation.|
|Re-Potting:||Conophytums do not need to be repotted regularly for a size upgrade although changing the potting mix is advised every 2 years to keep the growing medium in good condition. The best time to repot is after the end of the rest period – late July – August. I would use clay pots that enable moisture to evaporate easily from the soil.|
|Air Humidity:||Natural air humidity found in temperate regions seems to be fine for this Conophytum to grow. Plenty of air circulation is required when humidity is high or the air is dry.|
|Propagation:||Propagation methods includes taking cuttings or sowing seeds. Growing from seeds takes time for the plant to mature but they’re not hard to grow from seed. Keeping temperatures consistent at around 21°C is ideal for seed germination. If your plant has a good clump of leaves and stems you can take cuttings and propagate, between Oct – Nov is best.|
|Fertilizer:||The Conophytum ficiforme is not fertilized throughout the growing season like many indoor plants. This is because damage may be caused to the plant tissue and further cause rot. If you decide to try and provide them some nutrients with a little feed do this only once or twice (one month and then the following month) at the beginning of the winter growing period with a cactus or succulent diluted fertilizer (10/10/10). The fertilizer can be added to a water mister.|
Leaves can swell sometimes that’s usually caused when overwatering has occurred. The swelling can cause the skin to break.
During summer this can be quite normal when the plant is becoming dormant and not needing so much sun. The plant will need watering but no overdoing it…..even misting might be enough.
Leaves losing or changing color
The change of color can be the effect of receiving more or less bright light and sun, and is partly normal at certain times of the year. More light brings out the color when they are growing again after dormancy. It’s possible loss of color could also be caused by the type of soil used and/or lack of nutrition, but light and time of year are the most common causes.
Elyssa Goins is an experienced house plant hobbyist who maintains over a hundred plants. She is a gardener, beekeeper, and a proud mother of four. She is a member of the American Horticultural Society, has been published in a Scientific Journal, and loves to talk about her love of plants. For the past twenty years, she’s been all about growing and caring for various fruits, veggies, herbs, livestock, kids, and houseplants. Managing a big garden to feed four growing kids and raising dairy goats has taught her so much about being an excellent plant parent and now is her time to share with you.