Saturday, July 7, 2007

Monadenium Dormancy Dilemma

This spineless Monadenium ritchiei is doing well on my patio where it’s exposed to northern light. I’ve had it outside since very early spring, and it continues to do well, even in our extreme heat, as long as I provide regular water and some occasional fertilizer. If I exposed it to more light, its leaves would turn a reddish hue, but I like it just the way it is.

Monadenium genus is in the Euphorbiaceae family and comes from tropical East Africa. There are 50 species of Monadenium, and they are usually deciduous. The loss of leaves in the fall signals the start of its winter dormancy, but that has yet to happen with this one, so I continue the water as long as it has leaves. Pink flowers (actually cyathia) come just before dormancy, but since this plant has yet to become dormant, it hasn’t produced cyathia.

The M. ritchiei cannot take temperatures below 50˚, so it comes in the house with other sensitive plants in November and stays there until about mid-February.
I've read that plants with moderate dormancy needs should not be tricked into an eternal summer state by bringing them in the house in winter as this can kill them after a year or two. But, since cold temperatures can also kill this species, I have a dilemma.

Lucky Day--7/7/07.
The date 7/7/07 comes up just once this century, so enjoy it. However, I'm old enough to remember last century's 7/7/77. Now that was really a lucky day!

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