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How to Grow and Care for a Pearl Plant (Tulista pumila)

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Tulista pumila, formerly known as Haworthia pumila, is the largest species of the genus Tulista. This succulent from the Western Cape, South Africa, is a small, Aloe-like plant, up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall and with warty, white tubercles on the leaves. It is commonly known as Pearl Plant or Miniature Aloe.

This species hybridizes easily and naturally with Astroloba corrugata, with which its natural range overlaps. The resulting natural hybrids are named x Astrolista bicarinata.

The leaves of the Pearl Plant are mashed and used by traditional healers as soap. The leaves crushed and broken up can also be used as a poultice. Horticultural uses include planting in rock gardens and they also make wonderful miniature succulent pot displays. In larger gardens they can be used with great effectiveness as mass plantings in a bed.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Pearl Plant is a popular plant in cultivation, though it can be slow-growing. The plant requires well-drained soil and it is one of the few Tulista species that thrives in full sun. The plant rarely offsets, so most propagation is by seed, though leaf cuttings can also be rooted when larger leaves are used.

Propagating from fresh seed is easy. Seed older than 18 months in most cases is not viable unless kept under cool, dry conditions. Seed is similar to those of Aloes, but much smaller. Sow the seeds in fall in a well-drained, rich, loamy soil. Sow no deeper than 1.2 inches (3 cm). Water enough to keep the soil merely damp and ensure the growing medium is not soggy. A very wet growing medium will cause damping-off of the seedlings or result in the seeds rotting. Viable seed should germinate with 21 days.

Once the seedlings are strong enough, after about one year, transplant into containers. Initially keep strong sunlight off the young plants. Once the plants have adapted to stronger light they can be planted out in the open.

The plants live for about 30 to 40 years if they are looked after properly. It grows relatively slowly from seed and it takes about 5 years for a plant to reach flowering maturity.

Source: pza.sanbi.org

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