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Adenia Glauca Adenia Glauca

Adenia Glauca

Botanical Name — Adenia glauca

Common Name — Elephant’s Foot

Plant Family — Passifloraceae

Background

Adenia glauca is an arid plant, native to southern Africa, Madagascar, and the Arabian Peninsula. In its native environment it grows in rocky terrain as a tall, deciduous, woody climber. It's bulbous caudex stores water during periods of abundant rainfall, making this a very drought tolerant species. In its indigenous environment it can grow up to three meters tall, while plants cultivated indoors typically reach up to two feet in height. While a pleasure to look at handle this plant with care.  Adenia glauca contains a poisonous sap that is highly irritating if it is ingested or comes in contact with skin.

Growth Requirements

Sun

These plants enjoy bright light, and will thrive in 5-8 hours of direct sun per day. If possible, keeping the caudex shaded while providing full sun to the leaves and stems is ideal. 

These plants grow well outdoors during the warm spring and summer months. In the winter place indoors in a sunny windowsill. 

    Temperature/ Humidity 

    • These plants grow best in warm, sunny weather. They plants are fairly tolerant to high heat, though ideal temperatures range in the high 70s. 

    • In the fall and winter months keep Adenia glauca indoors where it will be sheltered from extreme cold. Temperatures above 60 degrees fahrenheit is preferred, while consistent temperatures below 44 degrees will be detrimental to the plant. 

    Water

    • Adenia glauca should be watered regularly when it is actively growing in the spring and summer months. Water thoroughly, fully saturating the soil. Be sure to let soil dry out completely in between waterings. 

    • Ease up on watering during the colder months. These are deciduous plants that will lose their leaves in the fall and winter. Fewer leaves means these plants are using less water and energy, so be sure to lighten up on watering when leaves are scarce, otherwise your plant may fall victim to root rot. 

    Soil/Roots

    • These plants like a mixture that is gritty, and fast draining, in addition to being fertile and mildly acidic. A good cactus or succulent mix would work great in this case. Pumice stone is an excellent amendment for providing additional drainage and aeration to the soil mixture. 

    • Coco coir is another great addition to the soil here, as it will retain moisture while draining excess water freely. It also provides structure, allowing roots to easily permeate and anchor themselves into the soil. 

     Flowering

    • Adenia glauca bloom during the summer, between the months of June and August.

    • Flowers are modest and small, ranging in color from a pale yellow, to a light green. 

    • Adenia glauca produce imperfect flowers, with male and female flowers being borne on different plants.

     Fertilization

    • During the active growing season apply a fertilizer made for cacti and succulents about once every 2-3 weeks. 

    • Use an acidifying fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and potassium, for example a 5:10:10 solution. 

    • Apply fertilizer only during the active growth season. In fall and winter hold off on fertilizing and ease up on watering in general.  

    Propagation

    • These plants are most easily propagated from seeds. While it is possible to take cuttings, these generally do not produce a caudex. 

    • As a rule of thumb, plants grown for seed production are generally started from cuttings since these bloom more frequently. Alternatively, ornamental plants are generally started from seeds since these are more likely to develop a caudex. 

     Health

    • Adenias can be prone to root rot when overwatered. 

    • Adenia glauca are not particularly susceptible to pests, though it’s always wise to keep an eye out for any bugs, especially in the spring and summer. 

    • During the warmer months check your plant for any signs of bacterial or fungal infections such as leaf spot, or wilt disease.

     Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)

    • Little pruning is needed to maintain adenia glauca. Prune away unhealthy looking leaves. 

    • Repot during the active growth season, once the caudex starts running out of room to grow, roughly every 2-3 years. 

     Toxicity

    • Adenia glauca, and produces a poisonous sap. Wear gloves when handling the plant, particularly when pruning. If you do come in contact with the sap, wash your skin immediately. 

    • This plant is toxic and should be kept away from children and pets.

    Photo Credit

    Valentino Vallicelli