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Conophytum calculus (Marble Buttons)

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Scientific Name

Conophytum calculus (A. Berger) N. E. Br.

Common Names

Marble Buttons, Cone Plants, Dumplings, Button Plants, Living Pebbles

Synonyms

Mesembryanthemum calculus, Conophytum calculus var. calculus, Conophytum komkansicum

Scientific Classification

Family: Aizoaceae
Subfamily: Ruschioideae
Tribe: Ruschieae
Genus: Conophytum

Description

Conophytum calculus is a small, stemless succulent with rounded bodies that multiply with age and cluster together to form dense clumps. Leaves are fused into a spherical body that grows up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) in diameter. They are completely smooth and hairless, chalky-green to pale yellowish-green, always without any spot. New leaves are formed inside the existing ones, and when, after a year, the leaf body starts to die, a new one emerges from inside. The old leaf becomes a thin, dry, and smooth, beige-colored sheath, sometimes turning black, which persists on the plant. Nocturnal flowers are golden yellow to dark orange and appear in fall.

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b: from 35 °F (+1.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).

How to Grow and Care

Most Conophytums need bright light but do not like too much intense sunlight. To avoid sunburn, place them in a position to receive a few hours of full sun in cooler periods of the day.

These plants thrive best in a porous growing medium that will drain quickly. Use a commercial succulent soil specially designed for growing succulents or make your own mix.

When Conophytums go dormant in the spring, they require little or no water. In the fall, when plants will begin growing, it is safe to water deeply, allowing the soil to dry before watering again.

Conophytums are light feeders, and they do not need fertilizer at all unless they are repotted every two years. It is best to feed at the beginning of the growth period and just before flowering.

These succulents will benefit from repotting. They typically need to be repotted every 2 to 4 years, depending on the pot's size and growth rate. The best time to repot a Conophytum is at the beginning of a period of active growth.

Conophytums are easily propagated by division. They can also be grown from seeds.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Conophytum.

Origin

Conophytum calculus is endemic to the winter rainfall regions of the Cape provinces of South Africa and the southern part of Namibia.

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