Table of Content
Baby toes plants are known for their clumpy little stumps that look like a baby’s toes which is how they got their name. Also known as “living stones”, these plants are trouble-free, low-maintenance plants that can add a unique look to your garden. Here’s everything you need to know about growing your own baby toes plants!
What are Baby Toes Plants?
Botanically named Fenestraria rhopalophylla, baby toes plants are mainly indigenous to coastal South African and Namibian regions. What’s so unique about them is that while most of the plant is buried underground, the leaves protrude out above the ground so that they can absorb sunlight for photosynthesis. They’re small plants that only reach up to a full height of 3 inches and produce beautiful white and yellow flowers in the spring or fall.
Growing Baby Toes Plants
Buying a young baby toes plant from a nursery is the most convenient thing to do, but you can also start planting them from propagation. When baby toes plants are mature and established properly, they produce new off-sets on their own.
To propagate them, simply pull out or cut the new off-sets from the parent plants using a clean and sharp knife. Then, keep them aside for a day or two to allow the cut ends to dry completely before planting.
Though baby toes can also be grown from seeds, not many gardeners recommend this method as it’s a much slower and more complicated process. If you prefer to, you can propagate the seeds outdoors or indoors based on the climate conditions in your area. If you live in a cold region that falls under USDA zones below 10, you can grow the plants indoors. If you live in a warmer USDA zone (above 10), you can grow them both indoors and outdoors.
Choosing a Pot and Repotting
Always plant your baby toes plants in small pots that are the same as the size of the plant itself. As they’re extremely slow-growers, they don’t require a lot of space to begin with so in most cases, containers about 4 inches wide would be enough. These containers should also have enough draining holes and should be made of porous materials such as terra-cotta or ceramic for better ventilation and water drainage.
Baby toes plants only need repotting when the plant has outgrown its pot, so this depends on the growth rate of each plant. Apart from this, you may have to re-pot these plants to provide them with fresh growing media for pest and disease control.
Ideal Growing Conditions
Baby toes plants grow best in acidic soil with a pH level of 5.5-7.0. To make your own homemade potting mix, blend equal parts of soil with perlite or pumice to improve its quality.
Light and Temperature
Baby toes are sun-loving plants that thrive in partial shade to full sun. Place them somewhere where they would get at least 6 hours of sun per day. Although these succulents are not cold-tolerant, they can survive in temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.1 Celsius).
However, they’re best grown in temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-24 Celsius). If the temperature begins to drop any lower than that, move your plants indoors.
Caring for Baby Toes Plants
Baby toes plants are succulents, which means they don’t need to be watered often. In fact, over-watering can be more dangerous than under-watering. Follow the “soak and dry method”, the practice of watering them deeply while letting the soil dry out thoroughly between each watering. In the winter and the hottest time of the summer, avoid watering completely as it can lead to split foliage and root rot.
Once established well, baby toes are sturdy plants that don’t need lots of additional nutrition. However, they can do with some light feeding, especially in the growing season. Feed your baby toes with a low-strength, half-diluted organic fertilizer for succulents. Start fertilizing in early spring and keep feeding them once a month. You won’t need to fertilize the plants in the winter since they go dormant during this season.
Disease and Pest Controlling
Baby toes plants are disease-resistant plants. However, over-watering and soggy, clogged soil can cause root rotting and foliage diseases.
In case your baby toe plants are showing signs of over-watering such as discolored or split foliage and root rotting, immediately reduce or completely stop watering them. Remove the sick plants and parts and spray them with a fungicide. If necessary, re-plant them in new containers which are filled with fresh growing media.
Though these plants are pest-free most of the time, they can get affected by aphids and mealybugs every now and then. To treat such infestations, spray them with water and then spray 75% rubbing alcohol or another fitting pesticide at least once a week until the infestation is wiped out completely.
You can make a good pesticide at home by diluting some neem oil and a few drops of dishwashing soap with water. After spraying the plants with this solvent, make sure to keep them out of the sun to avoid them getting sunburnt.
With their out-of-the-ordinary foliage and eye-catching daisy-like flowers, baby toes plants will make an adorable natural decoration for your home. As low-maintenance plants, you’ll find they’re extremely easy to care for and you don’t even need to be a gardening expert to grow them in your own garden.