Cotyledon Growing, Care & Cultivation
Cotyledon - Hardy drought tolerant, easy to grow outdoors or as container plants. Ideal for the Australian Mediterranean climate.
Cotyledons have recently been assessed to having 10 to 11 species it was much larger group incorporating Adromischus, Dudleya, Tylecodens, and others, which now have their own individual genera's. Cotyledons are small prostrate plants to medium sized shrubs to 2 meters. All have succulent leaves and thickened stems.
Cotyledons name comes from the first two leaves that a dicotyledonous plant seed has after germination. That appear as opposite large fleshy rounded leaves. Cotyledons continue on this way, each new set are oriented at 90 degrees to the previous pair. Flowers are tubular and colourful mostly red, to orange and yellow. on short to medium stems 10 to 20 cm long.
Cotyledon orbiculata variegata
They originate mostly in South Africa over a wide area, and up through the drier areas to the Arabian peninsular. They generally inhabit dry rocky areas, and some are only on cliff-faces such as Cotyledon pendens and Cotyledon papillaris. This would indicate their need for a well drained well light sunny or exposed area.
Some cotyledon leaves are Farinose (white powdery flour) or white or silver powder this helps to reflect the heat and light from the leaves in extremes of heat. Some leaves are quiet pubescent (small fine fur) such as Cotyledon tomentosa and its cultivars. a few are deciduous (lose their leaves) like Cotyledon paniculata in summer.
South Africa has winter rains and long hot dry summers. So watering is best in Autumn and Spring with a bit less water in winter. Cotyledons are very tolerant of drying out in Summer, but if given extra or good watering they will grow well at this time breaking their dormancy. Some Cotyledons are inclined to shed some or all of their leaves when stressed in summer.
Cotyledons are incredibly hardy, drought tolerant, and forgiving to grow, Just watch for too much water, a well drained mix is essential, many are easy to grow outside in the garden if the soil is well drained, they are considered mildly frost tolerant. Cotyledon leaves are mostly edged by a darker line especially near the tip of the leaves. these are often good contrasting colours, such as Cotyleton orbiculata Oophyllum and others develops subtle colour variations like the new Japan hybrid White peach, especially in cold and dry weather.
Cotyledon tomentosa White variegation
There are some lovely and well known variegate forms such as Cotyledon tomentosa both yellow and green variegates Oophyllum has one and C orbiculata undulatifola has a very nice variegate Cotyledons range over a very large area and Cotyledon orbiculata has the most amazing range of leaf forms while retaining the same name large silver pig ear types to green. long thin leaves some with wavy edges. also compact forms are now available
Cotyledon tomentosa Yellow variegation
Propagation is mostly done with cuttings. As leaf propagation is not very successful. cuttings taken with the cut 1 cm below a node is best you can do a single leaf cutting with cutting the stem in half. or just having a pair of leaves, all works well.
Some new ones to watch for Japan has been developing some lovely shaped leaves with good colours Cotyledon White Peach a lovely soft blushed pink on white. Cotyledon Choco Line is a silvery white with a dark chocolate wavy line on the outer edges of the leaf. Two other new one I have heard of is C White Sprite and C Mint Truffles
Cotyledon Choco Line
Our nursery would have about 15 species cultivars and hybrids.