A true collectors plant, this is rarely seen and easily grown.
Fockea is a caudex forming plant from South Africa. It can be grown in any number of ways. The most common for home use is to grow them with caudex exposed as a sort of bonsai.
The caudex or tuber, can grow up to 60cm across and weigh up to 45kg (around seven years – good things come to those who wait and gardening wouldn’t be as much fun without the anticipation). And you can be happy having it as it is and growing it as a ‘Bonsai’ plant.
The plant is topped with twining, vining stems of mid green leaves that can grow up to 4m long (when in the ground, they won’t be so vigorous in pots). They will hold to a support, or at first grow upward and then bow to their own weight, growing 20-30cm a year. The leaves are around 2.5cm long. In cold climates or under stress they may be deciduous, but usually hang on to a leaf or two. You can cut the tendrils, but in doing this the caudex will not grow as much.
Late summer to autumn little greenish flowers open (around 1cm) they have a sweet but light perfume. In the wild they are pollinated by fruit flies.
In the wild the plant uses the tuber to store water for drought (there it can survive for years without water) and it is mostly underground, in good years it takes advantage of the moisture and grows with vigour.
Plant into a cactus or succulent mix in a pot of a similar size or slightly larger, as you repot you can expose more and more the caudex (once exposed it doesn’t grow very much). As the plants grow you can pot them on to larger and larger pots as required. Grow in bright, filtered light. Water well, then allow the soil to dry before watering again. Keep relatively dry in dormancy. If you are growing yours outdoors, ensure the soil is sharply drained. They can grow indoors in a brightly lit position, but without good light they won’t do much. In the ground they will grow much bigger, but in a pot they will only grow to the assigned size.
Fockea as it was named for Dutch botanist, Charles Focke (1802-1856). Edulis – edible, thought it takes a bit of work to remove the toxins so we don’t recommend it.
Supplied as: Pots