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Baby Toes Cries Out For Lighter Watering


Q. I set a small pot of Baby Toes in a sunny window and watered on the same schedule as my other plants. What caused the plant to disintegrate?

A. You gave your Baby Toes too much water. This succulent, Fenestraria aurantiaca, which originated in the Cape Province of South Africa, does its growing in winter and can then be watered sparingly. Summer heat turns this plant off and dictates light sprinkling only.

Baby Toes (Fenestraria) belongs to the Aizoaceae, or Carpetweed, family. Ice Plants (Dorotheanthus) and Mesembryanthemum are related, as well as the living-stone Lithops, Tiger Jaws (Faucaria) and a host of other fascinating succulents.

With a name like baby toes, we can take for granted that this plant might be thought cute or adorable. What turns me on is the translucent window set within the pearly whitish top of each gray-green club-shaped leaf. At home in the sand dunes of southwestern Africa, these exist buried to the windowed tops. In cultivation, the crown is set high to avoid rot.

As a growing medium, expert suggests adding extra portions of clean, sharp sand to packaged all-purpose potting mixes, including the so-called soil-less types. Very dilute low nitrogen fertilizer is applied during active growth.

Baby Toes (Fenestraria aurantiaca)

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