Tavaresia is a genus that includes at least two species (Tavaresia barklyi and Tavaresia angolensis) of succulents native to southern Africa. Short, erect, 6- to 14-angled stems carry rows of tubercles furnished with three fine white spines, which gives the plants a cactoid appearance. Technically, these spines represent a modified leaf-spine with two side stipules, unique to this genus. Stems take on a dramatic dark coloration in a sunny position, contrasting with the spines. The large funnel-shaped flowers make these plants attractive to collectors. Swellings near the tips of the coronal lobes are also unique to this genus.
Light: Tavaresias prefer light shade rather than full sun, although stems may not color up under shady conditions.
Water: They should be at all times sparingly watered (best rainwater with some occasional fertilizer). In the wintertime, they hardly require any.
Temperature: A minimum winter temperature of 41°F (5 °C) is acceptable, providing that soil is kept absolutely dry.
Soil: These plants grow well in light gritty soil that drains well.
Tavaresias are mainly grown by plant collectors, lovers of succulents, and enthusiasts who enjoy growing unorthodox-looking plants. They come from summer rainfall areas, are intolerant of excess water, humidity, and low winter temperatures, and are easily destroyed by molds. Flower buds drop off easily in response to the slightest touch or unfavorable conditions.
Plants are usually propagated by cuttings, which, as they are very fleshy, they should be allowed to dry a week when they may once be put singly into a pot. Grafting Tavaresia on Stapelias is often useful and can be recommended.
Pest and Problems
Keep their roots free of mealybugs, as fungal attacks often occur due to damage to stems by insects. A layer of grit on the compost surface prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of the stems and minimizes the chance of a fungal attack on the roots.
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