The genus Faucaria consists of less than ten species of small succulent plants, each of which has numerous subspecies; in nature they all develop only in southern Africa.
It is a fairly widespread plant in cultivation in Europe, as it tends to adapt very well to cultivation in the apartment, flowering even in less than ideal cultivation conditions.
It produces flat rosettes consisting of triangular leaves, which develop in pairs, starting from the center of an already developed pair of leaves. The name of the genus comes from the Latin fauces = jaws, by observing a plant it is in fact immediately understood how this name derives from the fact that the pairs of young leaves, of elongated triangular shape, often characterized by thin pointed teeth on the external edge, remind the jaws of a carnivorous animal.
The thick, fleshy leaves are green or gray-green in color, with sometimes white dots on the outer edge, and often small teeth on the outer edge of young leaves, which tend to flatten as the foliage develops. Over time the plants can cluster, forming more neighboring rosettes, covering all the available space; specimens grown in conditions of strong exposure to direct sunlight often develop pink or reddish colors.
In spring, and sometimes also in autumn, the faucarias produce large flowers similar to daisies, of a golden yellow color, sometimes orange; there are species with pure white flowers.
Faucaria - Faucaria">Cultivating the faucaria
These are succulent plants with a fairly simple cultivation: water in the growing season, drought in the cold season; starting from small pots, filled with a soil characterized by excellent drainage, water only when the substratum is dry, from March-April to September. In the other months of the year it is watered sporadically, and only in the case of plants grown in the heat, in the apartment. In the period with more watering, fertilizer for succulent plants, rich in potassium and poor in nitrogen, is mixed with the water every month or every 15 days.
The ideal substrate is the specific one for succulents, if we want we can prepare it too, by mixing universal soil with an equal quantity of washed river sand and lapillus or pozzolana or pumice stone, with a fairly fine grain size; in this way we will obtain a very drained, unclogged substratum, which over time will remain free, and will not compact even if left without watering for a long time.
Faucarias can bear short periods with intense cold, but they fear prolonged frosts, in winter they should therefore be grown at home, in a poorly heated area, or in a cold or temperate greenhouse; to encourage flowering, it is good to allow the plants to enter vegetative rest during the cold season, and therefore avoid growing them all year round in an artificial perennial spring. In fact, they are plants that tend to adapt, and often even if grown throughout winter at 20 ° C, when spring arrives, as soon as the days get longer, they bloom freely.
There faucaria it needs repotting every 2-3 years, when the roots of the plants come out of the pot; we avoid placing it in excessively large pots. The lit specimens can be divided at the end of winter, to obtain more plants. These succulents are easily propagated by leaf cutting, or even by seed, since after flowering they produce small fruits, often containing fertile seeds.
The Faucariae and the sun
As with many succulents, faucarias are native to arid and very sunny areas; despite this they do not seem to like the warm and bright sun of the long Italian summers, which often causes a strong reddish color on the leaves.
For this reason, faucariae are generally grown in a bright and sunny place all year round, avoiding direct sun in summer. To do this, it is sufficient to screen the plants in summer, using a curtain, a fairly dense mesh net, or placing them in a semi-shaded place, sheltered from the sun during the hottest hours of the day. Let's remember that moving a pot from a constantly sunny area to a semi-shaded one will change the needs regarding watering, allowing us to water the plants less often.
Faucaria: The Aizoaceae
The genus Faucaria belongs to the Aizoaceae family, it is a succulent plant, almost all native to southern Africa; the aizoaceae are all plants with particular shapes.
A good part of species make up the group of so-called living stones: succulent plants with a very similar appearance to small pebbles.
Another good quantity of aizoaceae is constituted by plants similar to faucarias, consisting of pairs of fleshy leaves, green or gray-green, with large flowers similar to daisies.
To the aizoaceae also belong all the species that were once united in the mesembrianthemacee family, very common ground cover plants for cultivation in the garden, as they produce profuse flowers in spring; the success of these plants has made it possible to produce numerous cultivars, with flowers of practically every color, from bright pink to intense fuchsia.
Some of these plants have naturalized throughout the Mediterranean basin, so much so that they are now considered as plants belonging to the Mediterranean scrub, a typical example is the carpobrotus, a vigorous ground cover plant, with large fuchsia flowers; also aptenia is now widespread in much of the Mediterranean, and is also grown in the garden.