Dinteranthus are a group of stemless succulents from the Cape Province in South Africa, close to the Orange river where they get mostly summer rain. They are mesembs, and resemble those genera within the Aizoaceae family to which they are most closely related; namely Lithops, Lapidaria and Schwantesia, although they require even less water and have a distinctive keel along the lower leaf surface. They are named for the professor K. Dinter, Dinteranthus meaning "Dinter's Flower".
The leaf pairs are separated by a deep cleft from which the flower arises. The plants are popular among collectors. Dinteranthus need excellent drainage and a good deal of light. They should be treated like Lithops, though they require less water. They have yellow flowers in the fall. After they bloom, a new pair of leaves develop, used the moisture from the older pair of leaves to grow. The plants should not be watered until the old pair of leaves is totally shriveled. They will take a small amount of frost.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Adult plants of this genus behave like Lithops: summer expansion leading to flowering in fall, followed by a slow transfer of resources in winter; the main difference is that the presence of two active leaf-pairs is not unusual in some Dinteranthus. Dinteranthus require slightly less water than do most Lithops. Excellent drainage is essential, as all Dinteranthus are somewhat prone to rot, Dinteranthus microspermus subsp. puberulus being the most resistant of the six taxa. Their nutritive requirements are amazingly modest and the root systems of even the healthiest plants are minuscule. What they need most critically is good light, which will give them a bone-white aspect. Older long-stemmed plants can and usually should be turned into cuttings and re-rooted.
The real trouble with Dinteranthus is that the seedlings are so tiny that they are apt to damp off. But if the following rules are observed, success is likely. Sow in high summer; use sterilized soil with extra grit and enough peat to ensure high acidity; do not cover the seeds. Place the sown pot in a water bath, cover the whole assemblage with clear plastic and place it outdoors in a bright spot. Wait three full days, remove the pots to your usual place of germination and mist them at least twice a day. Seedlings should be evident within twelve days of sowing; they are extremely small at first and resemble green crystalline raspberries. The object is to induce them to grow as rapidly as possible. If this takes daily mist-feeding, then do it. By mid-autumn the cotyledons should turn greyish-white from a calcium deposition which strengthens them. After this whitening the fissure walls part and the true leaves are visible through the resultant peephole. Thereafter you are home free: treat the seedlings like young Lithops. Delay transplanting until the second set of true leaves is fully formed.
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