We had our first rains a couple of weeks ago here in Northern California, and knowing that they were coming, the plants were kept pretty dry. All of my plants were hit by the rain on the first day because they really needed water. Surprisingly, that single day of rain was too much water for one of the conophytums and it exploded/rotted out a few days later. Lesson learned, these can't EVER be exposed to even light rains here in Northern California.
The day after the first rain, I made a really shabby shelter and piled them in. Had it been a few days later, I probably would have lost most of these plants! It's really strange how you can water them by hand and it's not a problem, but a slow drizzle all day is just too much for them to handle. When it's cold and rainy outside, I crawl into this shelter and it makes an otherwise gloomy day really bright and happy! It's nice to have these plants in full force when everything else is dead or dormant!
One of the main attractions of conophytums (to me at least) is their super creepy feel. When they're not completely turgid and you give them a little squeeze, it feels like someone's ear! Same can be said about many other mesembs, like Cheiridopsis species... No idea why I find that really fascinating....if you grow conophytums or mesembs in general, why do you like them?
Anyhow, here's some photos, taken Oct. 30, 2016. If you see anything mis-labeled, let me know, this is how they came:
Conophytum friedrichiae, yeah it's spelled wrong on my tag:
Conophytum maughanii-still trying to deflate from that first rain! This is the pot where I lost the biggest plant. The second biggest one has split into 2 plants:
Conophytum limpidum-this has to be a very diverse species because they seem to come in so many different shapes, sizes and forms. This is a really tiny form and they've already bloomed:
Cheiridopsis pillansii seedlings et. al:
A fat Cheiridopsis brownii:
and an overview shot of one of the flats:
And while it's not really on topic, it's growing with my mesembs and is a succulent, so it seems an honorable mention is justified: Lewisia rediviva. Normally, these bloom in the spring, but they started growing in the garage during the summer so they had a super head start. There's literally a population 2 blocks away and the wild plants haven't even emerged yet as of 10/30/16. By the spring time, if they do as well this year as they did last year, this pot will be jammed packed with more flowers than leaves:
Fastfoward a few months later: Around mid to late January, we had an atmospheric river run through Northern California, and it has been cloudy and dark for most of the winter (so far) with a few sunny days mixed in. The makeshift shelter didn't withstand the 65mph winds and the greenhouse plastic was torn off despite placing very heavy cement bricks on top to hold it in place. All of the plants got rained on very hard and endured, cold, cloudy days for weeks afterwards, but fortunately I had kept them dry enough that no rot set it.
I ended up adding even more heavy bricks to hold the greenhouse plastic in place, and it survived an even stronger windstorm a few weeks ago. After many weeks of rain, we finally have a break, and the sun is beaming on the plants.
Here's what everything looks like after the storm, photos taken 2/12/17, check out how big those Ihlenfeldtia vanzylii flowers are in the foreground:
close of up I. vanzylii, they have a very light, daisy-like fragrance:
Aloinopsis schooneesii in full bloom:
Gotta double check the name of this one, Raebia something or other?
Here's a really fat plant of Cheiridopsis brownii. It was surprising that only a few flowers emerged:
close up of the flower:
What I'm starting to learn about some mesembs is that one year, they'll produce small flowers, but as soon as the plant reaches vegetative maturity or has some serious momentum, those flowers can get even bigger!
Here's Ihlenfeldtia excavata, the flowers were relatively small and with the first bloom, it was so unimpressive that I didn't even pick the plant up to look at it. For whatever reason, this time I took a whiff of the flower-OMG!!!! It was heavily perfumed with a deep citrus aroma! I have a much stronger affinity for this plant knowing it smells out of this world and can potentially produce bigger flowers in the future;
This is the first time it's bloomed from seed: