Thursday, December 22, 2016

Anacampseros seedlings winter update (20 pics)

Now to a more positive topic. Brace yourselves, this is a huge picture dump :)

Even though I've been posting photo updates on this year's Anacampseros seedlings over on Twitter I have realized that there has not been a proper update on them here in the blog since July! It's time to show you how they've grown.

They started as little blobs that all looked the same but now they look like little versions of adult plants and are pretty diverse. It has been such fun watching them grow. Looking after Anacampseros seedlings is straightforward. It's the adult plants I'm still figuring out (what exactly is their yearly growth cycle again?). There's not much you can do wrong with seedlings. They germinate right away almost at 100% rate and if they made it to first real leaves they'll make it all the way. I was told that I've been too kind to mine, watering them a bit too much, and I agree, some got out of hand. But most of them are perfect little fuzzballs. Thanks for this sense of achievement, cuties, I needed it. They are not immune to mites and darkness and overwatering can be an issue in general but they seem to be more forgiving than mesembs under my growing conditions.

As with many other succulent plants there is always a discussion among the growers on how "hard" they should be grown. The common understanding is that the ideal look is as close to the look in natural habitat as possible. While I share this view it's hard to achieve this in culture. We can try giving the plants the sunniest spot and starve them but in my experience it's harder on the grower than the plants. We tend to take pity and water a bit more than we should. Now that the seedlings are grown into small rosettes it's time to make sure they grow into good natural shapes. I'm not a person to starve plants but short plump leaves with a tan are my goal. And as usual, as I can not give them more light than what comes through the window, water is my only shaping instrument.

Even though they are still young and small I have stopped watering a while ago to give them some winter rest. What it means is - if it's dark outside it's always best to discourage any growth. We don't need them to grow into pale green weeds, do we?

So, here come the fluffiest seedlings. I'm very happy with those. You can barely see the leaves.

Some are less fluffy but it allows you to see what is going on underneath: tiny leaves in a nice round shape.

So cute, hiding in the stones!

These might be a bit too green and the leaves might be a bit long but there's plenty of time for correction.

These are a bit green as well but it might be how they are supposed to look? We'll see.

These however should not look like this! You miss the point when you should stop supporting growth and you end up with weeds that are not pretty. They are on a strict diet now.

These guys are slow growing and I had to push them a bit. The shape is fine for their age but the color needs more tan. We'll get there. (Love the heart-shaped leaves!)

Looking at the older seedlings, the color of this Anacampseros sp. is great! But the leaves could be shorter. I'll try to work on that.

Here is another example. Some of the older An. vanthielii seedlings got away from me.
Those in a better shape are nice round hairballs. But even they could do with a diet.

Others were unfortunately watered a bit too much at a wrong time. If the leaves are long and of a pale green color and you can actually see the stem - that's no good. Some tough love should bring them back on track.

My very first seedlings on the other hand look like I want them to look.

If you ask me what my ideal Anacampseros shape is, it's a compact round plant with short fat rusty-red leaves covered in fluff that at the same time shows some green at the top, just to reassure me it's alive. The cuttings below look perfect to me :)


  1. Thanks for the update Rika. Now, you're tempting me to grow from seed, which I haven't attempted before. How often do you water your seedlings when you say you are watering them too often? Are you able to control the amount of hair growth? Some of them are really boasting and showing off their very full crowns!

    1. Thanks to you for stepping by :)

      If you decide to grow them from seed be prepared for massive cuteness overload. Most of the seedlings above were sown around February which has turned out to be perfect timing. In fact the overgrown weeds are those that hatched in August or so when the days were getting shorter.
      When they germinated I removed the cover soon after but then made sure the substrate surface was always wet. After 2-3 real leaves came out I was watering based on their appearance. If they got soft and faded I watered. The problem with the bushy An. vanthielii for example was mostly bad timing. You water some that need it and then you think why not water those as well. Or in a different scenario, you water them because they need it and then the next day it's rainy-gloomy for two weeks and the plant goes from a perfect ball into weed-shape. I guess if you grow plants/seedlings under artificial lights you won't have this problem. I grow all of mine under natural light from out of the window.

  2. Have you room for all these seedlings.

    1. At the moment, yes. They are still tiny (all those pots are 5cm). Later probably not, we'll see... there still might be some natural selection happening..

    2. I hope to get another greenhouse for my seedlings.

    3. Lucky you! I have no hope of getting any kind of greenhouse anytime in my life.

  3. They really look great Rika. You have a natural knack for growing plants, at least the succulent type; although I suspect you could grow any type. However, part of your success is that you have few enough plants to give them almost individual care. That is a wonderful way to grow plants if you have the available time. When the number of plants you have increases to the point you can no longer treat each pot as an individual, you have to come up with another type of culture regime (mass growing) and this often changes an enjoyable hobby into work. :) Perhaps this is one reason I've never had a greenhouse; I've been afraid to turning my joy with growing succulents into a job. Of course having no greenhouse could also have something to do with not having a lot of money. ;)

    I continue to be fascinated by your ability to judge your watering decisions. I understand holding back on watering to limit undesirable (stretching) growth and keep plants compact, but there is a fine line with seedlings between keeping them dry to limit growth and keeping them dry to the point where the fine roots die and there is not enough water reservoir in the small leaves to keep the plants alive. I've had seedlings simply die because I withheld water too long. You have seemed to avoided this. I've never known anyone handle this watering balance so well. Perhaps your substrate (pumice) plays an important role in this but I've very impressed with how you keep your seedlings so compact and natural but don't run into problems with more root loss from insufficient water.

    I don't know if you will ever get a greenhouse, although you never know, but I do know that you have developed the ability to grow greenhouse quality plants without one. Yes, it takes you a bit longer, but your plants are a nice looking as any I've ever seen in a greenhouse. Well done.


    1. Hi Bob and Happy New Year! :)

      Hmm, yes, I imagine the approach would be quite different if the plants are grown in large quantities in a big greenhouse. The individual approach will probably only go for some favorites ;) I still look at my plants every day. These days they don't need me much and there are barely any interesting changes (except seeing new cases of mite damage...). Being able to sow seeds on a large scale must be nice though...

      The fine line is difficult. If the seedlings grow slowly it's very hard and you might need to abandon the whole "keep them in shape" thing in order to just make them grow from 1mm to 3mm somehow XD I have not figured out Avonia yet. So slow. So small. All the above Anacampseros seedlings were unproblematic. Keep the soil constantly wet until there are a couple of leaves there and then gradually slow down. There's no recipe. You do it just by watching them.

      Thank you for encouraging me. Last year was not a good one for plants and I feel quite disappointed. Hopefully this year is better.

  4. Glad I found your blog, I just plant lithops seed on tropical country(Indonesia) this is my third attempt. How I found information from your blog. Thanks

    1. Thanks a lot for reading and commenting! :) Good luck with the new sowing!

  5. Very cool, and Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is more peaceful for us all.

    1. Happy New Year to you too Marla :) Always happy when you step by.