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How to Grow and Care for a Persian Carpet Flower (Edithcolea grandis)

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Edithcolea is a monotypic genus with a single species, Edithcolea grandis. The genus is named after Miss Edith Cole (1859-1940). She collected the type material for this plant together with Mrs. Lort Philips in 1895, during a botanical expedition (1894-1895) led by Mr. Ethelbert Edward Lort Phillips (1857-1944) from Berbera to the Golis mountains in northern Somalia.

Edithcolea grandis, commonly known as Persian Carpet Flower, is a succulent plant with remarkable flower. The carrion-like smell of the flowers attracts flies and other insects for pollination.

Persian Carpet Flower is occasionally cultivated as an ornamental in desert gardens worldwide. It has a gained a reputation as a particularly difficult plant to keep alive, because of its very specific growing needs with much light and relatively high, above 60 °F (15 °C), winter temperatures. It is very susceptible to root rot at low temperatures.

The stem of Persian Carpet Flower is eaten as a vegetable in Ethiopia and Somalia.

Photo via flickr.com

Growing Conditions

Light: Partial sun or light shade.
Water: It require moderately watering through the growing season, but enjoy plenty of water and some fertilizer in hot weather. This helps them to flower freely. Allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Water sparingly in winter according to temperatures.
Temperature: Winter care presents no problems at 60 °F (15° C) with plenty of light.
Soil: Since roots are quite shallow, use a succulent mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering.

Propagation

Easiest with stem cuttings. Allow cuttings to dry a day before planting. Stems must be laid (not buried) on gritty compost and will then root from the underside. It can also be grown from seeds. The seeds should be sown in spring in moist, sandy peat moss.

Repotting

Repot every 2 to 3 years in spring, well before the first new growth emerges.

Pests and diseases

This plant is very susceptible to stem and root mealy bugs and damage from these may well initiate fungal attack. If you do have problems with a stem or with basal rotting, you can reliably isolate the healthy parts, dry them off, and reroot them in moist compost.

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