Irresistible-looking succulent plant, fenestraria belongs to the Aizoaceae family and can be found easily in nurseries but also in market stalls. This plant has a very short stem to which the leaves are attached which have a really singular shape: they look like many small clubs. The upper part of the leaves is slightly convex and transparent and has no chlorophyll, so as to allow the passage of light inside the plant, given that when the plant is found in nature, it is often submerged in sand. In short, like many small windows that allow light to pass through, the name Fenestraria also derives from this. The length of these leaves is about three centimeters and the even more particular aspect of this plant is that it produces quite large and showy flowers with wide white stamens that closely resemble the daisies; sometimes the color of the petals can also be yellow or red and their duration is many days.
There Fenestraria It is a perennial plant and comes from the Atlantic coast of southwestern Namibia but also from the northwest and south of Africa.
The English call it "Baby Toes" or the toes of children, due to the similarity of the leaves to the fingers of small hands.
Usually, today, the Fenestraria it is grown and kept in an apartment, preferably in a sunny area and with plenty of light, in the warmer months, however, it can also be placed outside so that it can receive the sun's rays directly, naturally in the less hot hours of the day.
In areas with a Mediterranean climate, fenestraria can also be grown outside, directly on the ground.
Ideal climatic conditions and substrate
Being a succulent plant, it prefers a mild climate and does not tolerate the cold, especially if temperatures fall below zero. It can be said that the ideal temperature for fenestraria is around 10-15 degrees, but if it is outside it can also withstand temperatures not below 4 degrees. However, we must not forget that it is particularly afraid of frost. The fenestraria grown outside, during the winter, must be withdrawn in a greenhouse or in a sheltered place to be sure that they do not suffer damage caused by the cold.
The ideal soil for this succulent plant must be draining and light, in practice a sandy loam, which can be easily obtained by adding 40% of coarse sand or gravel to the normal universal soil.
Watering and fertilizing
The fenestraria must be watered with much moderation because one its bitter enemy is really the excess of water.
When it is necessary to water it, the whole substrate must be evenly wetted, so that the water can reach even the root system. It is good practice to carry out this type of operation when we notice that the soil of the plant is completely dry, we must be sure otherwise it is better to postpone watering for a few days. Therefore we must consider the season in which we find ourselves, the temperature, the type of substrate that the plant possesses and also the size of the pot in which it resides.
To avoid watering during the hottest days of summer.
In general it is preferable to completely suspend the watering operations during the winter, to be resumed then during the spring but with a really moderate frequency.
One or two waterings per month may be sufficient in spring and autumn, while in summer they should be increased without exceeding, however, four times a month.
The fenestraria does not need particular fertilizations, however, only in springs can you administer liquid fertilizer, based on potassium and phosphorus, which can be diluted in the irrigation water.
Pay attention to administering fertilizers that are poor in nitrogen, since, although this element accelerates the growth of succulent plants in general, it could, however, considerably weaken the structure.
Pruning and reproduction
There is practically no real pruning of this type of plant, at most a simple removal of diseased, dried or broken leaves is carried out.
Fenestraria is a plant that reproduces mainly by seed. Generally the seeds must be planted during the spring, when the temperature starts to be around twenty degrees. Once the seedlings are born, they must be extracted from the substrate and repotted in pots with a diameter of at least eight centimeters.
However, there is another method of reproduction, namely by cutting. This operation must be carried out exclusively in the summer and consists in removing some leaves of a fenestraria plant, letting them dry for three days and planting them directly in a vase.
When it is considered necessary, perhaps because the plant has reached considerable dimensions, it is possible to carry out repotting, this must be carried out strictly in the spring. A useful suggestion is to choose wide rather than deep vases, in order to favor the ground cover growth of the plant.
This type of plant does not contract particular diseases. We have already said that it fears water excesses because they favor rot and can rarely be attacked by the red spider that will cause the appearance of dark spots on the leaves.
If weakening of the stems are visible on the plant or if the leaves present a dull color, it will be the sign of wrong care and lack of brightness, which could also cause the absence of flowering
If the leaves appear slightly withered, it will be a symptom of too dry atmosphere, therefore it will be useful to sprinkle the leaves.