This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

December 3, 2015

How to tell if your African Spear Plant is healthy

African Spear Plants are great plants. They're succulents, similar to cactus, and they can be grown from cuttings. That is, you can break off a piece of them, stick it in the ground, and they will grow a whole new plant, very readily. I have a lot of them here, and they're all from cuttings. Of course, many of them failed, which is how I learn stuff. And what I learned was to look at the "pleats".

If you've ever seen a saguaro cactus, you know that its pleats expand and contract depending on how much water it's getting. In dry times, the pleats deepen, and when the plant is getting the right amount of water, the pleats expand. So keep an eye on the pleats on your African Spear Plant and you'll know if it's healthy, or if it's dying.

If you've done everything right, and you have planted the cutting in well-draining sandy soil, and watered often, it should take just a few weeks for the plant to take root. In the meantime, you will see it shrivel up as it "drinks" the stored water from itself.

When the roots establish, the plant can then drink the water through the roots, and the pleats expand. If they never expand, then sorry, the plant didn't make it. Try again. I have a short memory for my failures, luckily! And the successes are there in my garden!
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