How to Grow and Care for Avonia
The genus Anacampseros was split into Anacampseros and Avonia from South Africa, and Grahamia from the Americas and Australia. Many plant labels and plant nurseries have not yet caught up with this change, so all these plants may still be seen labelled as Anacampseros.
Avonia is reserved for the species with tiny leaves hidden by papery stipules which form a protective layer along the stems. These bright white scales reflect a proportion of the solar radiation and protect the leaves from the noon-day sun. The small, solitary, greenish-white flowers are produced on the tips of the stems. The roots form a small caudex.
Light: Avonia do well in light shade to full sun. High levels of light are needed to flower and for good plant development.
Water: Water normally in the growing season from March to October, keep dry in winter.
Temperature: It is quite frost resistant if kept dry, hardy as low as 23°F (-5°C).
Soil: Since roots are quite shallow, use a cactus mix or add extra perlite or pumice to regular soil potting soil. A gritty, very free-draining compost is suitable, and clay pots help the plants to dry out between watering. For best results, use a shallow pot, and only use the smallest diameter pot that will accommodate the plant.
Fertilizer: Feed with a high potassium liquid fertilizer in summer.
Photo via kakteenfreundemuggensturm.de
The seeds germinate very quickly at temperatures between 59 and 70 °F (15 and 21 °C). In cultivation the young Avonia plants develop much quicker than in their natural surroundings, where they don't get ample water supply. Generally they are not easy to raise from seed as too much water kills them immediately, which also happens when they are not watered at all.
Although regarded as a choice and difficult plant, in cultivation it is relatively easy. Avonia grow very slowly and requires careful cultivation. Clustering in cultivation, if grown correctly, it will reward the grower with generous displays of tiny flowers. Avonia grow well at moderate to cooler temperatures in partial sun. Bright light enhances leaf colors and makes for a compact plant. They enjoy a gritty free-draining soil with added organic material and low to moderate watering depending on the species. A collection of these plants can be housed in quite a small space.
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Avonia – Growing Sheet
|Cultivation||They require an environment in full sun and well ventilated, with minimum temperature of 6-7 ° C. Frequency of watering: regular (twice a week in the spring / summer).|
|Curiosity||In their native area, the Avonia roots were dried and then used to produce beer, honey and bread.|
The Avonia: Key Features
Although there is a big confusion for what concerns the classification of Avonie and Anacampseros, it is now believed that the Avonia is a separate genre with its unique characteristics.
They are from tropical and sub tropical Africa regions, from which they are extended to the Americas. They are dwarf succulents that grow on the sunny slopes.
They have large roots that form a fleshy caudex which comes out just above the ground level, remaining partially underground. The caudex can reach from 5 to 10 cm in diameter and it works as a water reserve.
The aerial part develops instead in thin branches, scaly, and they offer the most possible protection from strong sunlight and they wrap themselves on each other taking the form of a low bush, or they widen from the caudex as the hair of the mythological Medusa.
Caudex and roots are perennial parts, while the branches grow back in the spring.
The flowers are small, they can be white or purple depending on the species. The avonia flowering, which suddenly is covered with color, is a pleasant sight but unfortunately very short: the blooming, in fact, lasts a few hours only.
In the Avonia Quinary, the most widespread , the flowers are self-fertile: the enthusiast can therefore replant and get new plants with little effort.
Variety e Types
These are the varieties of Avonia recognized today:
• Avonia albissima
• A. dinteri
• A. gariepensis
• A. herreana
• A. mallei
• A. papyracea
• A. perplexa
• A. prominens
• A. quinaria
• A. recurvata
• A. rhodesica
• A. ruschii
• A. ustulata
• A. variabilis
The most common in the market is definitely the Avonia Quinary, that is due to its characteristic of producing self-fertile flowers which makes this plant easy to reproduce.
Tips for Growing
The Avonie are particularly sensitive when they are young and has not formed the caudex yet: this is the moment in which we must pay more attention to the frequency of watering, because the plant is not able to manage the water supply yet. For the proper formation of the caudex it will be necessary a few years.
These are our guidelines for a proper cultivation:
- Put the plant in full sunlight.
- If left completely dry it can tolerate temperatures till -5 °. However, we recommend during the winter to put it indoors for proper vernalization.
- In summer it has to be watered regularly but making sure that there is never standing water: frequent watering is ideal (2 times a week) but light, so that the soil has got time to dry out quickly. Then we suggest to reduce the frequency of watering in the fall and then stop completely during the winter.
- We recommend draining soils with perlice or pumice and, possibly, to use clay pots to facilitate the rapid drying of the soil. The fertilizer should be used with great care: please use a poor nitrogen one and in small doses, about half of those which are recommended on the label for the other plants.
- Being dwarf succulents, it is usually not necessary the repotting.
The reproduction is via seeds. The seeds are very small, almost invisible, and to germinate they usually need 10-15 days with a temperature between 15 and 21 degrees.