Cyphostemma juttae, commonly known as Wild Grape, is a slow-growing succulent with a vast swollen trunk. Due to its distribution, Wild Grape has evolved and adapted very well to survive. The presence of white, drooping, papery bark pieces on the yellow-green stems is very typical of this species. In summer, this helps to reflect away the sunlight to keep the plant cool. The thick fleshy stem and leaves act as water reservoirs in times of drought. A fully-grown plant can measure up to 6.67 feet (2 m). The leaves are large, ovate, fleshy, toothed, shiny, and fall off during the winter months.
Flowers are inconspicuous, but the large grape-like bunches of bright wine-colored berries that appear near the end of summer make this succulent a true showpiece for container and garden alike.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Wild Grape is a very sought-after plant for the garden, as are other caudiciform plants such as Baobabs, Adeniums, and Tylecodons. It makes a superb container or open garden subject in and around the garden, especially around swimming pools and courtyards. Because this species grows mainly in the summer, it must be kept dry during the colder winter months. It is an ideal accent plant for a rockery or planted in a large container on a sun-protected patio.
Wild Grape grows best in loamy or sandy soil where drainage is optimal. Adding plenty of river sand and general compost will greatly improve drainage in heavy clay soils. Soil quality can also be improved dramatically by lightly adding some bone meal into the soil. Although smelly, the effect on soils is quite remarkable. As a rule of thumb, use only organic products, such as those based on seaweed extract, especially the plant will be feed regularly. Organic products will not burn or damage plants.
As with all succulents, be careful not to overwater. This plant can survive with very little water, but too often, plants die due to excessive moisture. If you live in a very wet area, keeping your plant in large containers is preferable to easily moving to a sheltered place. This also helps where severe frost occurs as Cyphostemmas are not completely resistant to frost.
The seeds of Wild Grape can be sown in winter. Although they take a considerable time to germinate, success is almost guaranteed. Propagation can also be undertaken by cuttings. Cuttings or truncheons can be rooted in coarse river sand. Again it is important to water with caution, especially after the cuttings have rooted.
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