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Her trivial name aptly recognizes the obscure shaped tuber of a turtle plant. Located in the arid regions of South America, the succulent plant has developed a conspicuous caudex that ensures its survival. As it grows slowly, its decorative tendrils sprout out of it year after year. Lush with shiny, heart-shaped leaves, the Dioscorea mexicana is a real feast for the eyes. Anyone who now suspects that exotic rarity can only be cultivated by experts will be pleasantly surprised. As the following care tips explain, the succulent is pleasingly uncomplicated.
- Plant family of yam plants (Dioscoreaceae)
- Name of the species: Dioscorea mexicana
- Trivial name: turtle plant
- Herbaceous climber with a semi-underground kaudex
- Diameter of the storage organ up to 100 cm
- Not hardy and usually one year old
- Inconspicuous flowers are rare
- Capsule fruits in fall with winged seeds
- Use as ornamental, food and medicinal plant
The turtle plant does not thrive on a tightly cemented schedule, but is flexible in its growth. In the local regions, you can usually assume that she wears her leaves dress in spring and summer and rests in winter. The reverse order is rare, but occurs in some copies after all. This applies in particular to older Dioscorea mexicana of more than 50 years, which can be discovered in specialist shops. If these were imported from South America at an advanced age, they have adjusted their vegetation rhythm to the local conditions and are very likely not to change it. The conditions on the site are therefore primarily based on growth:
- sunny to partially shaded place at the south or west window
- ideally with shading in blazing midday sun
- warm temperatures of 18 to 25° C during growth
- during the rest period 12 degrees Celsius are accepted in the shady place
The nature of the substrate requires no special effort. Commercially available cactus earth fulfills the requirements very well. Optionally, optimize the permeability by adding coconut fiber, perlite or sand. In contrast, classical potting soil is too nutrient-rich and should be enriched with peat or peat substitute as well as fine-grained quartz sand.
If the supply of water and nutrients to a Dioscorea mexicana is based on the alternation between growth and rest, the care is appropriate to the species. Overall, adequate restraint in casting and fertilization dominates. As a succulent, the plant tolerates a prolonged dry period, so it can be left alone for a few days. At the latest when the caudex sinks and softens, there is a need for casting.
- Water moderately but regularly during growth
- the substrate should dry between waterings
- Waterlogging is essential to avoid
- just pour so much in the rest period that the turtle plant does not dry up
After a few months of wasteful foliage, the wilting gradually sets in. Before cutting off the tendrils at the caudex base, give the plant enough time to assimilate the nutrients. This process is important for its continued existence, as the Dioscorea mexicana creates reserves for the next growing season in its storage organ.
Sooner or later it will be too tight for a turtle plant in the planter. Repotting is ideally done at the end of the vegetation break, because at this time the stress is the lowest.
- Tear the turtle plant and free it from old substrate.
- Cut rotten, sick roots and cut into long strands.
- In the new vessel above the water drain create a drainage from gravel or potsherds.
- Fill in a thin layer of potting soil and position the plant in the center.
Since the turtle plant in our regions can rarely animate for flowering and thus does not produce fruit with seeds, the specialist trade offers certified seed. So the propagation by sowing succeeds:
- Fill pots with lean substrate or coconut fibers
- Insert the seeds approx. 1 cm deep without pretreatment
- Sift thinly with sand or vermiculite and moisten well
If the tender cotyledons slide out of the seeds, the growth is now progressing rapidly. Within a short time, the first true leaves are thriving, so that there is an intense narrowness in the growing vessel. This is the signal to poke the seedlings in individual pots. These are filled in half with a mixture of cactus clay and sand or an adequate aggregate for best permeability. In the substrate press with the Pikierholz or a spoon a small hollow. The young plant then lift out of the previous soil carefully and put it in the middle of a fresh Pikiererde. The tiny root ball is now covered as high as before, so that the caudex can develop unhindered. In ideal conditions in a partially shaded place, at temperatures between 20 and 28° C, you can look forward to a beautiful tuber of 1 cm in diameter within 3 weeks. If the turtle plant has completely rooted this pot, it will take its final bucket with substrate for adult specimens. Until then, keep the succulents constantly moist, avoiding waterlogging. It is not fertilized at this stage.
Conclusion of the editorship
On the windowsill, the turtle plant sets fascinating accents with its eye-catching caudex. Immigrated from the arid areas of South America, the succulent plant does not require sophisticated care. As long as the fluctuating water and nutrient requirements are taken into account during the growing and resting periods, everything is in order. At the same time, if there are warm and bright conditions in the location, the chances are good that Dioscorea mexicana will accompany you for many decades as a loyal member of your family.
Worth knowing about the turtle plant soon
The turtle plant is an absolute plant rarity. It is one of the most beautiful caudex plants. These are plants that come mainly from the driest regions and can store water in their caudex, a storage organ. Only then can they survive there.
- Dioscorea mexicana resembles a turtle in its structure. Your storage organ is a tuber.
- Although she does not look like that, she is easy to hold. It forgives even longer periods of drought.
- The above-ground, bark-shaped tubers can reach a size of up to one meter.
- In addition, such a plant can become several hundred years old.
- In contrast to the shoots, the caudex grows only very slowly.
- The turtle plant is undemanding and easy to clean.
- What is important is that the plant or the tuber gets a lot of light.
- In the summer you can put them outside, so that they get a lot of light.
- Since the plant comes from an area where the soil is sparse and mostly humus-free, they should be planted in a similar mineral substrate.
- Such a mixture should contain split, sand and lava granules.
- With the addition of humus you have to be careful, because then the soil also stores water and this can lead to decay.
- Some lovers of caudex plants also use cactus soil as a plant substrate. The tuber is put into it.
- After planting must be properly poured. Stagnant water should be avoided.
- Then you pour about once a week, but always sparingly. Dry periods of up to 3 weeks, the plant can survive well.
- It can be fertilized with cactus fertilizer. In mid-May, the plants are slowly getting used to water and fertilizer.
- In late summer, both water and fertilizers will be reinstated.
- When the plant grows up, it drives a shoot. This grows quickly, up to 20 cm a day.
- The best thing is to tie this shoot to a trellis.
- It can grow up to 3 meters long before any leaf shoots appear.
- Without trellis, the instinct grows chaotic and that does not look so good.
- In winter, the turtle plant is not poured. She should be warm and bright.
- You do not have to cut. The plant usually dies in winter, so it is unnecessary to cut them.
- The dried leaves are cut off at the caudex base.
- The turtle plant can be propagated with seeds. The germination period is only one to two weeks. One uses Aussaaterde (Kokohum).
- Sowing best thrives in a small greenhouse. You put it warm and bright, but not in the sun.
- The temperatures have to be high, between 25 and 30 ˚C.
- Pouring is very economical. Favorable is a high humidity.
- The plant is pretty sturdy. It must not be too wet, then it will rot.
- Pests rarely infest them.