Okay, brutal honesty time. I have NO IDEA how to take care of Conophytum. I seem to have exploded one. No more water until Fall 😦
In light of this error, I’ve been trying to research Conophytum and their care, but haven’t found any really sound sources of information. There is certainly more information available about Lithops; thank goodness! As for the Conophytum, I’ve found various sources that say they should completely dry out over the summer and one should not resume watering until Fall. Many growers stop watering their Conophytum around this time of year and don’t start up again until August. The Conophytum completely dry up. I mean COMPLETELY…to the point you’d think they were dead for sure! Miraculously, they emerge from their shriveled paper sheaths unscathed once watering resumes. Amazing!
This is what Steven Hammer had to say about Conophytum in his article “The New Mastering the Art of Growing Mesembs”…
“Thanks to the increased popularity of Conophytum, the collective conosciousness has been raised and everyone has realized that these dwarfs need a lot of water! On a recent autumn trip to Europe I was surprised to see several expert growers watering their plants just as often as I do in New Mexico. I’d thought that my arid air had necessitated this frequency but I should have recalled that the most difficult species, C. rugosum, often grows near winterbournes (water courses that run only in winter. Updateing editor).
It is no surprise that many species grow so well in dank greenhouses: they are adapted to shady, moisture-trapping crevices. However, a balance must be achieved between a cool situation in which the plants are evenly moist and one in which they receive enough warm sunshine and near-dryness to bring out their finest contours and colors. The more sun, the shorter the internodes, the more compactly attractive the plants, and the greater the danger of desiccation.
In fall and winter conophytums like subtle but constant moisture. In early fall this may mean watering at least twice a week and in some cases it means daily watering! In any case, frequent shallow watering produces the best results, Of course the instruction “keep evenly moist” is, like Nixon’s perpetual five o’clock shadow, somewhat paradoxical; one can but try. Winter botrytis is a danger in humid conditions: growers must cut away spent flowers before they are attacked by it, as the floral tube can become a fatal conduit into the plant’s heart.
At a certain point in late winter the roots stop accepting water, and the tissue of the current leaf-pairs starts to collapse. This is your cue to withhold water. Plants entering dormancy often shrink alarmingly. Once the resting sheaths are properly formed, the large-bodied species can be left quite dry; the smaller, more delicate species will appreciate light weekly refreshment. If the leaf-tips pop out prematurely (i.e., in early spring), this is no disaster, but remember that premature exposure invites burning unless the plants are watered frequently. You may well find that many conos will behave exactly like your lithops.
As the popular song tells us, breaking up is hard to do, but large older clusters are better off divided. You can retain and reroot substantial chunks of a mature plant and subdivide the rest. This is best done soon after the plant flowers.
Raising the genus from seed to seed is the best way to understand it. I sow most species in early fall but a few certainly grow better if sown in mid-summer (e.g., C. burgeri and C. ratum) and more should be tested for their summer suitability. I have the worst results with spring sowings: the young plantlets start out confidently but then they confront a blast of heat before they can prepare for it. Born into moist heat, they would have a better chance of adapting.”
I guess I took the “watering loving’ part a little too seriously. Hopefully my guys are young enough to recover.