Even more seedlings have woken up and the bunny ears grow longer every day. Right now the temperature drops to 3-7 degrees Celsius at night (it’s a couple of degrees warmer on my glass covered balcony), which is perfect for my winter growing succulents.
I realized that even though the Monilaria are growing bigger and seem to be thriving, a lot of them have died off this summer. The pot became slightly too big for the remaining plants, increasing the odds of rot. So I found this small terra-cotta pot and very carefully dug up my Monilaria and replanted them in the same old soil (diatomaceous earth cat litter). Hopefully they’re happier now.
My plant bunnies have started to wake up! The weather has cooled down dramatically the last couple of weeks, especially at night, and this has triggered some of the Monilaria to wake up from their summer slumber. They’re now 3,5 years old and I have to admit I didn’t think they would last this long.
My 3-year-old Monilaria moniliformis is still very much alive. I realized that I haven’t written about it for quite a while. Right now it’s summer dormant and looks very dead. It will look this way for another 3-4 months.
This is one of the plants I wouldn’t put on a window sill. Partly because it’s downright ugly when it’s dormant, but also because it needs to experience the seasonal changes to be happy. Just like Lithops, it will rely on day length and temperature to know when to grow and when to go dormant. Every fall it will sprout a new set of long green leaves (the iconic bunny ears – which is why this one is also called “bunny ear succulent”) and it will continue to grow and change leaves until spring. It then goes dormant and looks like deep fried unions for 6 months until it grows another set of leaves in fall.
It sounds like the most fussy plant ever, but it’s actually easy to grow. When it reaches adulthood you only need to water (once every 1-2 weeks) when it has green leaves and is actively growing. When it goes dormant you stop watering until it decides to wake up again. It can be hard to judge when to stop watering in spring. Monilaria gradually show signs of going dormant, first by stopping all growth, then it turns yellow and starts drooping. That’s when I stop watering immediately, letting the leaves die off as quickly as possible. If I don’t do this, the plants would stand in water, they can no longer absorb and rot sets in.
My Monilaria don’t always wake up completely on their own. I know it’s safe to water when the temperature outside stays below 10 degrees C. Usually they start to turn slightly more green behind the dead crispy skin, too. After their first watering, they very quickly start to fatten up and the dead skin cracks, revealing a new bulb of green growth. This is followed by a set of cute little leaves, growing from inside the bulb. This should all happen within 1-2 weeks after watering.
I don’t expect mine to flower. Ever. I’ve heard about keeping Monilaria in small pots and making sure they get enough light in winter when it’s actively growing, but that’s not doing it for me. This winter I’ll try feeding them early on in the hope that they build up enough energy to flower before spring sets in.
The Monilaria are looking a tiny bit sad after a couple of nice and toasty days. 5° C and sunny weather heated up my greenhouse-like balcony. The succulents loved it and my Mammillaria spinosissima “un pico” even grew its first flower buds. The Monilaria not so much. I think they’re starting to go dormant..
The Monilaria seedlings are alive and multiplying!
The first pic was taken on the day of the first watering after dormancy.
The second pic shows the first pairs of bunny ears popping up a week later after having broken through the old skin. This one seedling has 10 heads already (one is still hidden under the old skin).
Third pic is the perfect bunny mode, a week and a half after the first watering.
I celebrated their survival with a cute little plant drawing too.
A couple of the Monilaria seedlings have started to wake up from their summer dormancy – maybe a bit too early, like last year. I guess they noticed the shorter days and completely forgot that we’re going through a heat wave at the moment.