Pleiospilos nelii Schwantes
Split Rock, Cleft Stone, Mimicry Plant
Pleiospilos pedunculatus, Pleiospilos tricolor
This species is native to South Africa. It occurs in semi-arid areas on the border between the Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
Pleiospilos nelii is a small succulent with one or two pairs of opposite, almost hemispherical leaves with a deep fissure separating them. It grows up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) tall and 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Leaves are grey-green or brownish with many small dark spots. Each year a new pair of leaves is produced. Flowers are yellow-orange, daisy-like, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, and appear from the fissure between the leaves from early spring to mid-summer. They open in the afternoon and close at sunset over a bloom period of several days.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Mesembs are mostly adapted to relatively predictable rainfall patterns rather than extreme drought and irregular rainfall. Total rainfall may be extremely low, but water is available at least seasonally or through fog and condensation. This leads to or allows plants that are not especially large and sometimes very small and affect how they need to be treated in cultivation.
The basics of care are very simple: free-draining soil, plenty of sun and ventilation, and regular light watering in the right season. The difficulties are endless trying to adapt to the Mesembs' adaptability and follow their growth habits in your particular conditions.
These plants require a loam-based compost with extra drainage material like horticultural grit or perlite. They all like good light conditions and plenty of ventilation.
Some are relatively cold-hardy and can even survive mild winters outside. Most will survive temperatures down to the freezing point. Some Mesembs begin to grow in the fall as the temperature drops and the days get shorter.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Mesembs.
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