- Dioscorea elephantipes : Tortoise plant
- Family : Dioscoréaceae
- Origin : South Africa
- Height in its natural environment : 3 m
- Hardiness: 10°C
- Flower colour : yellow
Height : about 5 / 10 cm
Description of the plant
PLEASE NOTE: the Tortoise Plant is a rare, slow-growing plant, we offer small subjects formed of a small bulb and the beginning of a leaf stem.
Tortoise plant or elephant's foot, animal or plant? We lose our Latin!
This plant is a real curiosity of nature: its caudex, growing over time, gradually draws scales from the furrows that form on its bark. You can see your choice of a turtle shell or an elephant's foot!
Amazing, and capricious with that! Indeed, it alternates the periods of strong growth where it makes grow its stems with pretty heart-shaped leaves and the periods of rest where only its caudex remains; without logic, without warning, according to his mood! It's up to you to adapt, by drastically reducing watering during resting phases and by arming yourself with patience ...
Its cooked tuber, very rich in starch, is edible and is nicknamed Hottentot bread, people of southern Africa.
To tame, it is worth it !
Also known as : Hottentot bread, Elephant’s foot,…
When you receive your plant, repot it in a pot slightly larger than the bucket, which must be well pierced. Avoid pot covers which prevent residual water from draining away and encourage fungal diseases. Choose a fine potting soil, ideally with added perlite or sand to lighten the substrate (do not use garden soil or acidic soil such as heather). Then plan two repottings per year (spring and autumn), gradually increasing the size of the pot and adapting it to the size of the root network (the roots must have room, but not too much as the plant must be able to dry out its substrate between waterings). This avoids having to add fertilizer, which always risks burning the fragile roots of the plants and making the plant wither as soon as the fertilizer is stopped.
Moderate watering: watering should be copious (the whole root ball should be wet), but wait until the substrate has dried deeply before watering again (you can stick your finger in the soil: as long as you feel moisture, do not water). Your plant will recover better from a lack of water than from an excess of water. Always water at the base of the plant, and do not mist it, because stagnant water in the armpit of the leaves favors cryptogamic diseases. If your atmosphere is too dry, put bowls of water nearby (above radiators for example), so that evaporation humidifies the air.
For an indoor planting
A true houseplant, place it in a warm and bright place, like a veranda or behind a window, direct sunlight suits them perfectly.
For an outdoor planting
This plant is not frost and/or cold resistant and should not be planted outside except in limited parts of Southern Europe.
Our plants are grown naturally, without chemical fertilizers, so we advise you to repot them regularly (twice a year) rather than adding fertilizer.
In case of pest attack
If your plants are under attack by aphids or other pests, the best way to control them is by hand. Change their soil, remove as many undesirables as possible by hand and then shower your plants with a strong stream of water to eliminate any eggs that may be present. Spray them (insist on the underside of the leaves) with liquid black soap diluted in water. Repeat the operation several times at a few days interval. Take them outside in good weather, rain, sun and wind will kill most of the aggressors!