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This evergreen succulent plant, which spreads on the ground with curly branches, looks very decorative. At the same time, the plant is relatively resistant and undemanding to care for. That is why our flower growers liked aptenia so much.
- Aptenia in the wild
- Aptenia cordifolia
- Cultivation of aptenia
Aptenia in the wild
Aptenia is a shrub that grows up to half a meter throughout the year. Its leaves are more than 5 centimeters long and about 3 centimeters wide. The papillae cover the leaf plates. The flowers do not form inflorescences and are planted on short stalks.
The aptenia fruit is a water-absorbing capsule with tiny seeds. It ripens in a couple of months. The plant blooms very luxuriantly, with bright small flowers, in areas well-lit by the sun.
In Africa and Australia, this plant calmly survives drought, but does not tolerate frost. This sun-loving flower needs warmth, so it can be classified as a heat-resistant plant.
In a natural area, for example, in the same Buenos Aires, aptenia blooms from early spring to almost winter. Flowers bloom usually at noon. But indoor plant analogues with different illumination open up in the morning.
The most common aptenia is one-year, but it can be two-year and even long-term. However, its entire active period in the life cycle is about 4 months.
This flower is still little studied. Although it begins to bloom after saturation of all parts of the plant with salts in high concentration. This leads to aptenia to fruiting, after which the death of the annual occurs.
In Australia and California, this adaptable flower grows on depleted soil near landfills, along roads. The salty composition of the soil is important to him for the accumulation of moisture, so this plant can leach the earth, absorbing water-soluble salt from the soil and giving back insoluble dry salt.
It collects throughout the plant, collecting moisture. And salt also helps to create "crystal" skin. It is also noteworthy that the crystal aptenia inhibits the development of neighboring plants, throwing dry salt into the ground, from which the neighbors die. Since ancient times, Africans have included this plant in the composition of ritual drinks, because the juice of Aptenia is rich in psychotropic hallucinogens.
The most common in our area is the creeping cordial aptenia. Its decorative effect makes the plant very expressive in hanging pots. The stems of the plant, similar to thin hoses, hang by 25-30 centimeters.
The leaves of this species are small, only about one and a half centimeters long. They are located oppositely on the stem, have an inverted ovoid shape.
Aptenia blooms are small, deep pink and even scarlet. Flowers are knocked out of the leaf axils in the morning, open all day, and die off closer to night. The flower is no more than one and a half centimeters wide.
It is noteworthy that the plant itself has adapted to escape from sunburn in the sultry African savannah, however, as well as from excessive evaporation. For this, "crystal" cells develop in the tissues of this aptenia, forming a protective film that reflects dangerous rays and absorbs only the useful part of the radiation.
Breeders have developed a hybrid flower shape in different shades of red. And the color of the leaves is formed from the transitions of various shades - from greenish to brown.
Such hybrids, obtained by crossing different species, are very demanding on the soil. They develop best in light, aero- and permeable soils.
When flowering is complete, this insect-pollinated plant forms an angiosperm capsule of four nests. Small poppies do not exceed 1 centimeter in length. It is not strange that its small seeds fall out of the cocoon as dust and multiply quite easily. Moreover, even fresh, only harvested seeds germinate.
There are many subspecies of this popular aizoon plant. Aptenia grows in the dry part of Africa, although it is also found in other regions.
There are many other types of aptenia. But they are less popular in our area due to their inability to adapt to the peculiarities of the climate.
Cultivation of aptenia
The most suitable temperature for growing aptenia is 22 degrees. And since its lighting should be sufficient, they grow a flower on the east and south windows.
Planting of this succulent is made rare, because it develops rapidly, oppressing its neighbors. Aptenia is not added to flowerpots as a planting.
It is also important not to overmoisten the aptenia. The plant can be placed in infertile alkaline soil. This type of aptenia takes root without problems on saturated salt marshes.
It is popular as an ornamental plant. Cultivation takes place in open ground as a curb, and in flowerpots - as an ampelous culture.
You can take any soil for room planting, the main thing is to drain it. Holes are made in the pot at the bottom, a ball of good drainage is covered. Better to add sand. The soil mixture for aptenia includes:
- leafy sand or turf
- loam and clay soil
Aptenia does not need fertilization, so by planting it correctly, you can forget about frequent attention to it. In addition, during one vegetative period, aptenia itself several times becomes an excellent fertilizer, suitable for cacti and succulents.
Reproduction of this type of aptenia is mainly cuttings, because it is already very easy to take root either in water or in moist soil. The predominance of propagation by cuttings is also explained by the fact that it is very difficult to breed Aptenia with seeds.
Often, no attempt is successful. Tiny seeds sown in the ground generally germinate well, but later the seedlings die, due to excess moisture and for some other reasons.
It is necessary to propagate aptenia in the fall, so that during the period of active development in spring, the shoots can grow and take root under flowering in May. A young plant, revived from a flimsy cutting, blooms in spring much faster than the old one. It happens that even half a month does not pass from planting to flowering!
Aptenia is quite unpretentious, and in the open form of cultivation does not need any care at all. The optimal planting site is sunny areas of flower beds. It should be watered sparingly, and minimal in winter.
Aptenia is grown throughout the entire former USSR. But at the same time, she should be provided with proper care and planting in a suitable environment. Of course, this plant will not develop completely without attention. But if you do it at least periodically, then the flowers and greens of aptenia will constantly delight the eye with their lush beauty!
Admire the flowering of aptenia in the video: