Fockea crispa is one of the most famous succulent caudiciforms from a historical perspective. Sometime after 1780 an expedition was led to South Africa, the western cape area to find new and exotic plants for Emperor Joseph ll of Austria. Fockea crispa was one of the exciting new plants discovered. The new plant was potted in 1794. According to Gordon Rowley it is the oldest potted plant still alive today. There seems to be some disagreement with this since an Encephalartos altensteinii at Kew Gardens also claims to be the worlds oldest potted plant. In any case it is quite amazing for a potted plant to still be alive after 200 years! This plant resides at Schonbrunn Palace Gardens in Austria. I think this hints at the great ability this plant has for survival.
Fockea crispa is one of the more common succulent caudiciforms for sale at nurseries. It is one of the easiest caudiciform succulents to grow, being a great beginner plant. It was one of my first caudiciform plants. Fockea’s are dioecious, meaning you must have a male and female plant to produce seed. Fockea edulis is another species very similar F. crispa. The leaves on Fockea edulis are not as wavy or “crisped” as F. crispa, and F. crispa seems to have more tiny bumps on its caudex.
Fockeas are very easy to grow. They prefer a well drained soil. I use a 50% pumice and 50% organics for my mix. This “loose” mix also allows for the caudex to grow and expand. The caudex can burn from to much sunlight. I grow my plants in about 50% shade here in California, however the vines are allowed to grow in full sun on redwood lath. If your caudex turns pink or orange-red color give your plant more shade. I water about once a week during the summer months. My plants receive winter rains here in California and seem to do fine with the cool wet conditions. Fockeas will tolerate light frost, but will do best with some protection. Light occasional feeding is fine.
As plants grow and start pushing out of their pots its time to replant into larger containers. Make sure you expose more of the caudex every time you transplant. This can be done with minimal roots left to grow in soil. Give your newly transplanted specimen a little extra shade to avoid sunburn. Fockeas make great “bonsai” succulents. Just add a few special rocks, some gravel as topdressing, and you will have a plant that everyone will notice
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