Xerophyta retinervis

Started by CG100, November 10, 2023, 07:00:24 AM

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There is a very old conversation here where the same results as with me are mentioned, but has anyone tried this plant from seed recently?

I have sown it twice with the same result, so far - rapid germination, they make 2 leaves around 2mm or so long and then do nothing. One was using a gritty slightly alkaline compost, the other using ericaceous compost plus sand, both kept very damp.

The first sowing just petered-out over several months. The current seedling are only several weeks old so far, but haven't grown since very shortly after germination.

Steve Marak

I can't help with the question, as I've never gotten seeds from either of the two Velloziaceae I have - this one, Xerophyta retinervis, and X. (formerly Talbotia) elegans. 

I don't want to hijack the thread, but if you have advice on pollination, I'd love to hear it. X. elegans in particular flowers freely every spring, but has resisted all my attempts to self it. I don't know if this is due to self-incompatibility or if there's a trick, and haven't found much information.

A friend who spent time in Brasil with Burle-Marx and saw a lot of Vellozia in habitat, and grew some, thinks it should be straightforward, but Xerophyta are from the African branch of the family so ??

I'd also appreciate a pointer if anyone knows of sources for other Velloziaceae.



Following @Uli's suggestion on the Lanaria thread, I invested in a packet of mycorhizal fungi/bacteria treatment, sold for improving performance of cuttings. It was a semi-random choice as I have never used anything similar previously - semi-random insofar as it was the cheapest available   :D

I was surprised when it arrived last Friday - fine grit, mixed size from fine sand to maybe 2mm across.

I ground a pinch of it into 5-10ml of tap water and threw that into the top of the 8cm pot of Xerophyta seedlings.
Today several of the ~30 seedlings are showing a third (first real) leaf (a lens is needed to see them currently)!!!! None got that far in the previous batch, so I have all fingers crossed.


Update for anyone finding this thread in the future.......

I transplanted the seedlings into pots with markedly alkaline and acid composts and they did far better (general appearance and survival rate) in acid. When removing them from the original pot, they very obviously had essentially no significant root system - the base of the stem ended in a tiny "blob" - they looked like tiny matches, with a leaf at the opposite end to the "head" (the root end).

A very few have made a third and forth leaf (first true leaves are indistinguishable from cotelydons, assuming what is seen as first leaves are cotyledons).

I have sprayed with seaweed extract and maybe that and the addition of  mycorhizal fungi/bacteria had marginal or no effect.

I strongly suspect that the seedlings/plant are incredibly slow-growing, which is "confusing" things. Maybe anyone interested in raising the plant from seed, needs to start as a very young person?

I have sown small numbers of seed of X. viscosa and X. hereroense in the past couple of weeks - update on those as and when they appear (so far no obvious germination, so far slower than retinervis).


Since they prefer acid soil,  you might try this on one or two seedlings to test it.

Get a water soluble 25-25-25, and dilute it 1/8 recommended strength.

That will either push the victim too hard and kill it, or give you amazing results.
Marc Rosenblum

Falls City, OR USA

I am in USDA zone 8b where temperatures almost never fall below 15F  -9.4C.  Rainfall 50"+  but none  June-September.  We seldom get snow; but when it comes we get 30" overnight.  soil is sandy loam with a lot of humus.  Oregon- where Dallas is NNW of Phoenix.


Thanks @MarcR - I will have a proper survey of what remains and give it a try if there are any potential martyrs.

I will buy seed again - it isn't expensive and the couple of batches from different sources have germinated well.

I am disappointed that so far the other two species have shown no sign of germination after the several days that X. r. has taken each time I have sown it.