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Trichodiadema densum (Miniature Desert Rose)

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Scientific Name

Trichodiadema densum (Haw.) Schwantes

Common Names

Miniature Desert Rose, African Bonsai

Synonyms

Mesembryanthemum densum, Psilocaulon densum

Scientific Classification

Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Trichodiadema

Description

Trichodiadema densum is not a cactus, but could be mistaken for one. Its leaves are succulent and end in a circle of stiff hairs, giving the plant a similar appearance to some species in the cactus genus Mammillaria. It is a compact, mat-forming, perennial shrub up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, with woody stems and thick, fleshy roots. The green leaves are up to 0.8 inch (2 cm) long and each tipped with a crown of white hairs. The daisy-like flowers are vivid carmine-pink, up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, opening in the morning and closing later in the day. They appear from fall through spring.

Photo via flickr.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zones 9b to 10b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 40 °F (+4.4 °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 which are not especially large and sometimes very small, and affects the way they need to be treated in cultivation.

The basics of care are very simple, with free-draining soil, plenty of sun and ventilation, and regular light watering in the right season. Yet the difficulties are endless, trying to adapt to the Mesembs' own adaptability and to follow their growth habits in your particular conditions.

These plants require a loam-based compost with the addition of extra drainage material such as 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 freezing point. There are some Mesembs which 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.

Origin

Trichodiadema densum is native to South Africa (Cape Province, Willowmore).

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