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.
A little guide on how I keep my Monilaria alive:
I wrote a guide a while ago on how to grow Monilaria from seeds. Read this first if you’re starting there. Good luck!
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.