Few succulent plants can match the rare beauty and exotic look of Trachyandra tortilis. This perennial succulent is native to South Africa and Madagascar and belongs to the Trachyandra genus in the Asphodelaceae family. This exotic succulent is hardly found in cultivation, which makes it even more sought after by collectors. It is known for its longevity and can make an attractive addition to your succulent collection.
Just look at its stunning curly foliage! Unique green spiral leaves up to 25 cm (10″) tall growing on a bulb of 10 cm (4″) in length up to 2 cm (1″) in diameter. Trachyandra tortilis blooms in late winter and early spring with pale yellow star-shaped flowers (lasting just a single day, so keep an eye on your plant and don’t miss the flowering!) on an individual stalk growing from the base of the plant.
It’s the perfect houseplant to display on your desk, coffee table, or counter, and with proper care and a little pampering, this fairy-tale plant will last for a very long time.
It’s quite expensive, but it can make a much-appreciated unique gift for succulent plant collectors.
Before diving into this informative article on how to care for Trachyandra tortilis, check out this video below for some quick facts!
Feature Image Credit @limasgol
How To Care For Trachyandra Tortilis
Caring for Trachyandra Tortilis requires more effort, attention, and care compared to other more common succulents. Not just because it’s a unique and rare plant, but also because, in some respects, it is quite delicate. Because of its high price point, in my opinion, is not a beginner-friendly option. But if you already own one, or you love it so much you can’t stay without one, keep reading the care tips I provide below to successfully grow your Trachyandra.
Light And Water Requirements
Trachyandra Tortilis is not a cold-hardy and grows well as an indoor plant. This succulent thrives in the temperature range from 41 to 59°F (5 to 15° C), and like all succulent plants, it needs some sunlight to stay healthy. Make sure to keep your plant in a bright room, where it can benefit from at least 6 hours a day of indirect sunlight. But avoid direct sunlight that can easily result in sunburn, causing unattractive black spots on its sensitive leaves.
As far as watering requirements, it’s essential to water your succulent according to the season because the moisture requirements are different. Usually, most plants need more moisture during the summer, when they are actively growing, than in the winter months. This rule doesn’t apply to Trachyandra tortilis, since, at the opposite, it goes dormant during summer and grows during winter.
During the summer months, your succulent requires very little water to survive, and only when the soil feels completely dry to the touch. On the other hand, during the fall and winter months, when the plant is actively growing, you should water more frequently, about every 2 to 3 weeks.
The best way to water this succulent is by the ‘soak and dry’ method: you want to water the soil until it is completely soaked and wait until it’s totally dried out before watering again (this may depend on your location and container). Always remember that Trachyandra tortilis is extremely sensitive to overwatering and needs ‘watering with care’, otherwise the roots will rot and the plant will end up suffering from pests and diseases.
Overwatering your succulents can be very damaging: these little plants don’t need much water and not as often as you might think. This is because their leaves and roots have the ability to store water for surviving in extreme weather conditions, giving them a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, a characteristic known as succulence. When succulents get too much water their leaves, stems, and roots start to swell up and eventually burst, causing unattractive black spots.
Pot And Soil Requirements
If you plan to grow your Trachyandra Tortilis in a pot, you should choose a terracotta or clay one with drainage holes to reduce the risk of overwatering and consequent roots rot. Terracotta or clay pots provide a healthy environment for most plants. The porosity of clay allows air and moisture to penetrate the sides of the pot.
That being said, terracotta pots release moisture faster when it’s hot outside, which means you’ll need to water plants more frequently to prevent soil from drying out.
When it comes to soil, you should provide your Trachyandra tortilis with as much drainage as possible because is very sensitive to humidity and doesn’t like its roots to stay too wet. For best results, use a well-draining succulent mix that provides good air-flow for stronger and healthier root growth. For extra drainage, you can add mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite.
As far as fertilizing your Trachyandra Tortilis, if you’ve just repotted it in fresh soil, fertilization may not be necessary since the soil still has plenty of nutrients in it. However, if you do need to add some nutrients to the soil, it is best to apply an organic fertilizer at half-strength during the winter season when the plant is actively growing.
Repotting Trachyandra Tortilis
After you buy your Trachyandra, you should transplant it from its small plastic container to a terracotta or clay one with drainage holes. This will enable the soil to dry quickly and ensure that the plant remains well-drained. Start by gently remove the whole plant from the plastic pot. Then remove the old soil off the roots and look for any signs of pests or decay.
Don’t be afraid to prune roots too – it’s helpful and encourages new growth. Place the plant in terracotta or ceramic pot and fill it up with well-draining soil, spreading the roots out as you repot. Leave the soil to dry for a week or more, then start to water lightly to reduce the risk of overwatering with consequent root rot.
Pests And Diseases
Trachyandra tortilis tends to be quite a pest and disease-resistant plant, but it can still be harmed occasionally by insects, especially mealybugs, given the spiral shape of its leaves, a perfect hiding place for these tiny pests. If you notice that your succulent has stopped growing, it is most likely due, unfortunately, to a pest invasion.
Getting rid of mealybugs can be quite challenging since these pests have a wooly protective cover making them resistant to common pesticides. Treat the infestation as early as possible, when only a few insects are observed to keep the plant healthy and avoid contamination of other plants. With a large infestation, it’s necessary to spray the plants with a 70% rubbing alcohol or isopropyl solution with multiple applications. To completely get rid of these tiny pests it’s necessary to kill and wash off every single one.
How To Propagate Trachyandra Tortilis
Trachyandra tortilis can be propagated from seeds and from leaf cuttings. Being a rare and expensive plant, you might want to try to propagate it using one of the two methods illustrated below.
Let me start off by saying that propagating Trachyandra tortilis from seeds takes a very long time, sometimes a few years and it can be quite tricky. I honestly don’t recommend trying this method, but if you aren’t in any hurry, go for it! All you want to do is place the seeds in a well-draining soil mixture and water only when, touching the soil with your finger, it feels dry.
By Leaf Cuttings
It’s important to choose healthy leaves of your Trachyandra tortilis for higher chances of success. Look for full and plump leaves, not dehydrated and flat leaves. Choose leaves that are uniformly colored without any discolorations, spots, or marks. Do not use leaves that are damaged, ripped, torn, or misshapen. Gently remove the leaves from the stem. Following these easy steps, you’ll successfully be able to propagate your succulent.
- Using a pair of sterile scissors your fingers, carefully cut off a leaf from the mother plant. I would avoid using a knife because the leaves, given their curled shape, could be damage.
- Make sure to remove the whole leaf, including the base that attaches to the stem otherwise your newly propagated plant will not survive.
- Before replanting the leaves in the new soil, allow the leaf to dry out on a piece of paper towel for several days to callous over.
- When the leaves are nice and dry, dip the ends into the rooting hormone (optional) and stick them cut-side down into a well-draining succulent potting mix.
- While waiting for the leaf cuttings to root, keep them in a shaded place, away from direct sunlight.
- After almost a month, you’ll notice little pink roots growing from the cut at the base of the leaf.
- At this point, stick the cuts in the well-drained potting mixture.
- To avoid any risk of root rot or other infections, do no water your offsets right away. Wait for a few days and then water sparingly, only when the soil feels dry to the touch.
Hope you enjoyed reading this article on Trachyandra tortilis and found it comprehensive and enlightening! If you like, feel free to leave a comment or share your knowledge on this topic in the section below.
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