By: Liz Baessler
Concrete leaf plants are fascinating little specimens that are easy to care for and sure to get people talking. As living stone plants, these succulents have an adaptive camouflage pattern that helps them blend into rocky outcroppings. And in your home or succulent garden, it will help add beauty and interest to your life. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow a concrete leaf plant.
Concrete Leaf Succulent Info
The concrete leaf plant (Titanopsis calcarea) is a succulent native to the Western Cape province of South Africa. It grows in a rosette pattern of gray to blue-green leaves. The tips of the leaves are covered in a rough, dense, bumpy pattern that ranges in color from white to red to blue, depending upon the variety. The result is a plant that looks remarkably stone-like in appearance. In fact, its name, calcarea, means “limestone-like”).
This is likely no accident, as the concrete leaf succulent grows naturally in the crevices of limestone outcrops. Its stony appearance is almost definitely a defensive adaptation meant to trick predators into mistaking it for its surroundings. In late autumn and winter, the plant produces striking yellow, circular flowers. While they detract a bit from the camouflage, they are really beautiful.
Titanopsis Concrete Leaf Plant Care
Growing concrete leaf plants is relatively easy, as long as you know what you’re doing. In the growing period of late fall and early spring, they do well with moderate watering. The rest of the year they can tolerate a decent amount of drought. Very well-draining, sandy soil is a must.
Sources vary on the plants’ cold hardiness, with some saying they can tolerate temperatures as low as -20 F. (-29 C.), but others claiming only 25 F. (-4 C.). The plants are much more likely to survive a cold winter if their soil is kept completely dry. Wet winters will do them in.
They like some shade in summer and full sun in the other seasons. If they receive too little light, their color will steer toward green and the stony effect will be lost somewhat.
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With fascinating foliage and large yellow flowers, Titanopsis calcarea although not widely offered for sale is regarded as the most desirable of genus.
This is a low growing mat forming succulent from South Africa and is one of the kalkvygies (chalk mesembs). It is the white incrustation on the leaves that adds interest, and the effect varies depending. You will need a very free draining soil to grow this plant, usually some added pumice or similar to a normal succulent potting mix.
‘Mimicry Plants’ Concrete Leaf Plant (Titanopsis Calcarea) – Tropicals/Houseplants
These succulents offer leaves with an interesting texture, similar to a concrete texture. This low-growing succulent has interesting plump, but flat leaves. Well suited as a houseplant or in dish gardens. Place in filtered sunlight and with good drainage. Water sparingly, and let dry out completely between waterings.
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How to Grow Succulents Fast
When plant hobbyists and succulent parents say ‘grow’, it could mean one of two things. The first is the physical growth of a small plant into a bigger, more mature succulent. The second is the propagation of a mother plant to grow multiple smaller plants.
Whichever you’re hoping to achieve, we’ve got the tactics to help you get there.
Increasing Succulent Size
A large, mature succulent can become the crowning glory of any garden, creating a focal point across your lush, lively, outdoor space. Some succulent types have the potential to grow several feet in height and diameter, and may be a brag-worthy accomplishment for any enthusiast hoping to flex their botany muscle.
There are many different ways that you might be able to increase the size of a succulent, and these simple tips should help you achieve just that:
Provide enough space – Just like a fish contained in a bowl, a succulent that’s limited to a small amount of space won’t reach its maximum growth potential. Varieties like echeverias actually thrive best in large pots or garden plots where there’s no competition or crowding.
Succulents with single heads – like the Echeveria Fiona – can grow several feet in diameter when left to thrive in a garden alone. If you’re interested in creating an arrangement of succulents, allow the main crowning plant variety to reach full size before planting any other specimens around it to prevent stunted growth.
Meet needs for sunlight – Sunlight is a succulent’s main nutritional source. These babies adore sunlight and grow best when provided the amount of natural light that they need. Keep in mind – not all succulents have the same sunlight requirements. So tailoring your care to meet those specific needs could mean the difference between a healthy plant and a lopsided monstrosity.
Most of the succulents on our list require the most sunlight which is good new for low-effort plant keepers who don’t have the luxury of time to keep moving plants around throughout the day. Remember though, not all succulents will thrive with long bouts of direct sunlight exposure. If your plants start etiolating or turning upwards, then you might not be meeting their sunlight requirements.
Grow outdoors whenever possible – While a large indoor terra cotta pot adorned with succulents might make a gorgeous decorative indoor piece, the indoors can limit the extent of your plant’s growth. Growing a plant under your roof can keep it from all of the vitamins and minerals that it gets from natural light and fresh air.
Whenever possible, grow your plant outdoors. If you’re an apartment-dweller and you don’t have a garden to call your own, then make sure you have a viable windowsill to sit your potted plants so they can get their fair share of sunlight and fresh air.
Increasing Succulent Quantity
Propagation is perhaps one of the most exciting parts of succulent ownership. The ability to grow a new pup from a mother plant can be a real test of your botanical skills, and proves to be a truly rewarding experience for succulent parents of all levels of expertise.
There are a number of ways to grow a new succulent from a mother plant, and these include:
Leaves – Most succulent varieties will grow from the leaves, letting you propagate more than a single plant at any given time. To do so, simply twist any random full-sized leaf off of the mother plant. What you’re aiming for is a clean pull, leaving to segment of the target leaf left on the stem.
Once you’ve done that, you can place the leaf on a bed of soil and observe it over the next few days. A small replica of the mother plant should start to grow at its base. Similarly, the small pup should start to shoot off its own root system.
When it’s ready, the small succulent should disengage from the leaf – which should be shriveled up by now. At this time, you can pot the succulent in its own little containment. Keep in mind that growing a new succulent from a leaf is a 50-50 shot. If you want to increase your chances of success, it would be in your best interest to take more leaves.
Offsets – Take a peek under the bottom leaves of a succulent plant, and you’ll find little pups nestled against its base. These are called offsets, and are essentially small replicas of your mother succulent. They can grow in groups or clusters and may exist all around the mother’s succulent at any given time.
Give the new offsets the opportunity to grow large enough before you take them and plant them on their own. Some offsets will have their own root system, but others will still link to the mother plant by way of a stem.
To remove the pup, simply use a clean sharp knife to cut away the offset with one seamless swipe. Similarly to propagation by leaves, set the offset on a bed of soil and wait for the surface of the cut to callous over. Once it’s dried, it should produce its own root system making it ripe for planting.
Cuttings – Succulent varieties like sedums are the perfect specimen for growing from cuttings. These species tend to grow in long branches, making it easier to select a viable segment to cut and propagate as its own plant.
To grow a new succulent from a mother plant, simply choose a branch and cut it away from the main succulent with a clean, straight knife. The part on the mother plant where the cutting was taken from will likely grow an offset. On the other hand, the cutting itself should callous and develop its own root system.
If you want to make sure your cuttings survive, simply cut off a bigger branch. Larger cuttings with more leaves and a longer stem stand a better chance at survival because of its well-developed structure.
Seeds – If you’re interested in growing succulents fast, seeds might not be the best idea. But it is a potential propagation that’s worth trying anyway if you’re hoping to improve your botanical muscle.
The seeds of a succulent can be found at the swollen base of its flower. Most succulent species will produce flowers during warmer weather – typically from summer to spring – and you can collect the seeds from these flowers after they’ve reached full maturity and are about to wilt away.
Growing them requires some patience and perseverance. Soften the seeds in a water bath for at least thirty minutes before distributing them over a bed of prepared succulent potting soil. Cover the seeds in a layer of soil and mist daily to moisten just the top of the earth.
Keep the soil and seeds in a warm room and away from direct sunlight. Exposure to shade and fresh air should help propagate the seeds. Depending on the variety of succulent you’re working with, it could take as little as 3 days or 4 weeks before you start to see any growth.
Over to You
Succulents are all the rage these days becoming an aesthetic icon for the present generation. So whether you’re trying to ride that hype with your own succulent nursery, or if you’re simply hoping to grow your very own, lush succulent garden, a bunch of quick-growing species should be your best bet.
Our recommendations for the 7 fastest growing succulents should fill up your garden in no time, and bring you maximum returns for what little effort they require. Just give them the sun, water, and care they need, and you’re on your way to welcoming a thriving bed of succulent beauties in just a few weeks’ time.