Monday, August 12, 2013

About the Elephant Foot plant

This almost sculpture-like succulent plant is botanically known as Adenium obesum. It was given to me as a gift several years ago by a kind friend. It was sold as a bonsai plant!  It had not been "bonsai-ed", nor would it be very suitable for such a process. It did come in a bonsai pot but that is not enough to claim a plant is a bonsai. This Elephant foot is not a bonsai although its shape looks like it could be one. I have seen other plants for sale as bonsai plants when they are not. Ponytail palms and sago palms have been sold under this guise. 

I highly recommend to anyone who would like a bonsai plant, that you do some research into the specialized art and science of bonsai before buying one. They need a fair amount of devotion if they are to live very long. Many true bonsai should be living outdoors most of the time.  

This noble succulent is commonly known as an Elephant foot plant, Desert rose or Impala plant. My Elephant foot has been wonderfully easy to care for in my sunny window. This one is just about ready for the next size pot and can grow as tall as 6 feet or 2 meters high!  I may have to move eventually in order to keep all my plants, although this is a slow grower. I've kept it in a kitchen window because, surprisingly for a succulent plant, it likes humidity. The steam from boiling pots and tea kettles are very welcome to the elephant foot. It blooms from time to time with soft trumpet-shaped flowers in varying shades of red. The amount of sun it receives determines the depth of the color of the flower.

The Adenium obesum is a native of East Africa, Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique 

Care Instructions--- 

  • It needs some direct sun. Full afternoon sun indoors is fine for it.  
  • This one, in a 6" diameter pot  (15 cm) I let dry out about 1/4" below the soil line and water it thoroughly with about 1 pint or up to 1/2 liter of water. Plants in larger pots should dry out a 1/2"- 1" (about 1-3 cm) below the soil line. It does like a good soak when necessary, especially when blooming. 
  • This succulent does like humidity so you may want to mist it with water daily, if your place is on the drier side. Fertilize regularly for the best growth and blooms. You may want to stop fertilizing briefly, if it is in bloom.
****To see short video clips on plant care from my 90's TV series, click here:
  The Indoor Garden TV

 In the top picture, its fruit has gone to seed and the seeds are ready to to scatter. In the bottom picture, if you look closely, you can see the unusual fruit that it produced after flowering.   

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