How to Care for a Trachyandra Tortilis

It is better to grow your Trachyandra Tortilis indoors, in a room with plenty of bright indirect light and good ventilation. Make sure to use well-draining sandy soil and adjust the watering schedule according to the season.

This succulent is one of the most unique plants you’ll ever see. The guy looks like something from another planet because of its curly, ribbon-like leaves.

Trachyandra was first described as a genus way back in 1843. It is part of the Asphodelaceae family. By the way, quite a few species are endemic to South Africa – no wonder it is practically impossible to come across a Trachyandra in a common garden center.

Fun fact: all ribbon-like leaves are different as they depend on the genetic makeup of every plant.

It is quite difficult to stumble upon this fascinating plant. So, if you ever find a Trachyandra Tortilis, adding the succulent to your collection will be a great decision. This plant will look extremely cool in your apartment and will add an extra touch of magic to any room.

Indoor vs Outdoor Growing

This rare plant that is native to Madagascar and South Africa is best grown indoors. However, if you really want, you can place your Trachyandra outdoors, in case you live in a place with the right temperature range (41 and 59°F).

Warning! Trachyandra Tortilis is not the best plant for newbies. This succulent is extremely rare and relatively sensitive. Get such a plant only if you are ready to invest your time in making the beauty happy.

How to transport the fella outdoors?

A week before transporting the plant to your garden, start placing the little guy in a protected spot outdoors for a few hours during the day (bring them back in at night). The spot has to be out of the wind and partly shaded.

Over the course of the week, start exposing the little guy to more and more wind and sunshine (do remember that direct sunlight can harm the lush leaves).

Best Location for Your Trachyandra Tortilis

You can plant the succulent outdoors. But it would be much better if you place it indoors.

Find an area where the air circulates freely (good ventilation is a must for a Trachyandra Tortilis). The plant also needs a lot of sunlight, so placing the little guy on a window sill is a great decision. However, you would have to protect the gentle leaves from the hot sun during summer.

You can also choose to display the beautiful plant on your desk or coffee table.

Soil for Trachyandra Tortilis

You should pick well-draining soil for your succulent.

For example, you can use a rich succulent potting mix with plenty of sand perlite and rocks. Your Trachyandra will grow well in riverbeds and quartz patches.

Watering Your Trachyandra Tortilis

The plant is a succulent. No wonder it is sensitive to overwatering. So, never give the houseplant too much H2O.

During fall, winter, and spring, you might have to water the beauty only every two weeks or so. The summer is the houseplant’s dormant period. During that time, your Trachyandra Tortilis is going to need some water once or twice a month.

Before watering the plant, you have to make sure that the soil had fully dried out. Check it with your finger and if there is no moisture, then you can generously water your green friend.

Water the plant according to the ‘soak and dry’ method. Water the soil until it’s completely soaked and let it fully dry out before giving H2O to the plant again.

Trachyandra won’t tolerate wet soil. Too much moisture can lead to various unpleasant conditions and even to the plant’s death.

Like all the other succulents, Trachyandra Tortilis can store water in its roots and leaves. This is exactly what makes it appear fleshy and swollen (in a good way).

But if the plant gets too much water, the stems, leaves, and roots will swell up and, in the end, might even burst. This will lead to the appearance of black spots.

Warning! When watering your succulent, make sure to water the soil, not the leaves or stem. Too much H2O on the leaves can lead to mold.

Take the recommendations mentioned above into consideration, but don’t be afraid to adjust the watering schedule according to your plant’s needs.

Humidity for Your Trachyandra Tortilis

These succulents hate high humidity. The moisture level should be kept at around 50%.

The plant might start to rot and become prone to fungus if the room has high humidity and poor ventilation.

Light Requirements

Your little friend needs plenty of bright, indirect light. Make sure to place the guy in a room where it will be able to get at least 6 hours of light every single day.

Direct sunlight should be avoided as it can harm the delicate leaves. If you have noticed some black spots on the green plant, it means that the succulent has been hurt by the sunrays.

Fertilizing Your Trachyandra Tortilis

If you have recently repotted your plant, there might not be a need for fertilization at all as the right soil has plenty of nutrients.

In case you feel like it is necessary to add some extra nutrients to the soil, go for organic fertilizer. Apply it at half-strength and only during the winter season. This is when the houseplant is actively growing and might need some additional support.

Adding fertilizer once or twice a year should be enough to encourage healthy growth.

Bear in mind that any fertilizers have to be added sparingly and in small quantities. Your Trachyandra Tortilis lives in well-draining soil and you shouldn’t let the fertilizer change the soil’s texture.

Best Temperature for Trachyandra Tortilis

The succulent doesn’t like extremely high temperatures. Ideally, you would want to keep the temperature between 41 and 59°F.

Maintaining the right temperature is vitally important for a variety of reasons.

Firstly, your Trachyandra will show optimal growth in this temperature range and, if the time is right, will flower.

Secondly, the right temperature makes the plant more resistant to pests and different diseases.

Dormancy

Another thing that makes Trachyandra Tortilis so unique is the fact that the plant’s dormant period is in summer. During this period (for about a month or so), it will show no or very slow growth. It might also look a bit weaker and drop the leaves, but that is fine.

Unlike a lot of other plants, the beautiful Trachyandra Tortilis is a winter species.

In summer, leave the pot in a warm, well-ventilated spot and water the little guy once or twice a month.

As soon as fall comes, the plant will ‘wake up’. During this period, your Trachyandra will start growing relatively fast. So, it might require more water and a bit of fertilizer every now and then.

Toxicity

You might already know that not all succulents are 100% safe. For example, Aloe Vera and Jade can be poisonous for cats and dogs.

Thankfully, a Trachyandra Tortilis is relatively safe. Of course, you still wouldn’t want your pets or small children to chew on the plant’s lush leaves.

The houseplant’s juice is not toxic but remember that you might be the ‘lucky’ one who has an allergy to one of the components. Simply be careful when handling the plant and if you notice any redness on your skin make sure to clean the area and use gloves in the future.

Propagation

You can propagate a Trachyandra Tortilis from leaf cuttings or seeds. It is definitely worth giving one of the methods mentioned below a try as these succulents are extremely rare and being able to grow your own baby Trachyandra is an incredible experience.

Seeds

The truth is that it might take you up to 3 years to get a baby plant from seeds. But, if you are willing to play the waiting game, here is a simple step-by-step guide:

  • You are going to need a few small pots (at least 2-3 inches deep) with the seeding soil or a fresh growing mixture.
  • Burry only the larger seeds about a third of an inch deep into the soil. Sprinkle the rest on top of the soil.
  • Moist the soil and cover the pot with polythene – this will help maintain high humidity.
    Tip: if you don’t want to cover the soil, you can simply use a spray bottle to water the soil after about two-thirds of it become dry. The soil should not be soggy.
  • The little ones need plenty of bright indirect light. You might want to place the pot on a window sill. If you are using artificial light, the babies will need around 12 hours of light and 8-10 hours of rest.
  • You don’t want to overfertilize the soil, but you can give the future succulents a small dose of a dilute fertilizer every week or so.
  • You can uncover the pot as soon as you spot some tiny shoots.
  • Repot the tiny fellas only once they reach about 5 inches.

Leaf cuttings

Propagating the succulent from leaf cuttings is a much faster option.

What kind of leaves should you choose?

Look for healthy, plump leaves that are uniformly colored. Flat, dehydrated leaves with spots, marks, and discolorations are unsuitable for propagation.

Make sure to remove the whole leaf together with the base.

Hint: use sterile scissors to cut off a leaf. For this particular plant, using a knife is not the best decision, as you might damage the leaves.

How to propagate leaf cuttings?

Once you have cut off the leaf, leave it for about 4-5 days on a piece of paper towel so that it can callous over. After that, plant the cutting in well-draining soil and water it whenever the soil becomes dry (do not water the little guys straight away, wait for at least a few days). Plant the cutting in the pot, once it is ready.

You will notice tiny pink roots growing from the cut end only in about a month.

Hint: you might want to dip the end of the cutting into a rooting hormone.

When to propagate?

Between the middle of fall and the middle of winter.

Repotting

You might want to go for a clay or terracotta pot for your Trachyandra Tortilis. Of course, any pot should have a drainage hole to prevent overwatering and moisture build-up.

Such materials allow moisture and air to penetrate the pot as they are porous. Bear in mind that terracotta starts to release moisture a bit faster when the temperatures rise. So, you might need to water the plant a bit more often (but do check if the soil is dry anyway).

Repot your Trachyandra Tortilis as soon as you bring it home (they usually come in plastic containers). Simply get the plant out of the container and gently remove the soil from the roots.

Tip: always pay extra attention to the roots, when repotting your green friend. Look for signs of decay or pests.

Before placing the plant in its new home, you can carefully prune the roots – this manipulation encourages growth.

Make sure to spread the roots out, when filling the pot with soil. Leave the whole thing to dry for a week or so and only after that you can start watering the plant.

You wouldn’t need to repot your Trachyandra Tortilis too often (about once a year). Find a new home for the little guy only once it had outgrown its previous pot. And make sure to fill the pot with new soil that is full of nutrients.

Flowers

The little guy blooms in late winter and early spring. During this time, you might notice a flower stalk with white, yellow, or grayish star-shaped flowers (some have a light pink color).

Yes, the lovely blooms do not grow from the leaves. A special solid stalk that looks nothing like the plant’s leaves will, at one point, erect from the base of the Trachyandra. And that’s exactly where the flowers will grow.

Unfortunately, the flowers last for…less than a day! So, you can consider yourself lucky, if you ever notice your green friend blooming.

Fun fact: Trachyandra Tortilis is a long-living plant – it can thrive for decades. You can literally pass it through generations. This fact increases the chances of seeing the little guy flower.

F.A.Q

How big does a Trachyandra Tortilis get?

The succulent usually grows up to 25 inches. The green leaves can be around an inch in diameter. One plant usually has between 4 and 8 leaves.

Do I need to prune my Trachyandra?

No, the leaves of this unique plant don’t need pruning. However, you can carefully prune the roots, whenever you repot the green guy.

Are there any pests that can harm my plant?

In general, a Trachyandra Tortilis is a pest-resistant plant. But, at one point, mealybugs can become a problem. Unfortunately, it is easy for these pests to hide in the spiral leaves.

If you ever notice that your beloved plant had stopped growing during spring, winter, or fall, the chances are high that the little guy is suffering from a pest infestation.

To get rid of the insects, you would have to find and wash off every single one of them. If the infestation is severe, you can use an isopropyl solution or 70% rubbing alcohol to spray on your plant (apply the solution at least a few times).

Pests are attracted to wet soil and fertilizer. So, in order to avoid any bug-related problems, you should keep the soil well-drained and only use small amounts of fertilizer during the growing period.

Where can I buy a Trachyandra Tortilis?

You might never come across this succulent in a common garden shop as the plant is extremely rare.

What you can do, is try and get your hands on this curly beauty through an online store. You might be able to find seeds and even actual plants on eBay, Amazon, and so on.

Bear in mind that online stores can have waiting lists. So, make sure to contact the seller.

You might also come across a Trachyandra Tortilis at plant fairs and exhibitions. If you didn’t find what you were looking for, you can always ask some of the exhibitors for useful contacts.

What are the most common problems with Trachyandra Tortilis?

These succulents are prone to root rot. Such a problem will occur if you tend to overwater your green friend. Rot roots are unable to transport any nutrients to the plant; as a result, the little guy might die.

The leaves might turn yellow, in case you leave the houseplant without any water for too long. Moreover, your Trachyandra might also develop a few black spots on the stem, if it’s thirsty.

Should I remove the dry leaves?

Yes, if any of the leaves have dried out, you should remove them from the pot as they can continue to steal moisture from the healthy parts of the plant.

To remove the leaves, use sterilized scissors (you might find it challenging to perform the manipulation with a knife).

Tip: to sterilize your equipment, you can use a 10% bleach solution and soak the scissors in it for about half an hour. Bear in mind that fresh batches of the solution should be made every time (it has a short lifespan).

Do I have to clean my Trachyandra Tortilis?

Yes, dust can ‘stick’ to the plant’s peculiar leaves and clog its areolas, making it challenging for the little guy to breathe. In the long run, the dust might affect your health as well, so try to clean all your plants on a regular basis.

To keep your friends sparkling green, you might want to use a paintbrush. It will help you gently clean all the spiral leaves. You can dip the brush in water but be extra careful as the plant doesn’t like too much moisture.

Conclusion

A Trachyandra Tortilis is hard to find and impossible to forget. Jokes aside, you will be lucky to find this rare beauty in cultivation. The plant also comes at a relatively high price point and, unlike the majority of succulents, is quite delicate.

Yes, the actual recommendations might not sound too tricky. But you have to be able to keep an eye on your succulent and adjust the conditions if the pretty plant shows any signs of stress or any disease.

All these facts combined make a Trachyandra Tortilis not the best houseplant for beginners. However, experienced plant lovers and those who ’understand’ succulents would definitely appreciate such a marvelous gem.

How to care for a Trachyandra Tortilis? To make sure that your beauty thrives, you would have to…

  • Place the Trachyandra Tortilis in a room will a lot of bright indirect light.
  • Keep the temperature between 41 and 59°F.
  • Ensure that the room is well-ventilated and that the humidity levels are not higher than 50%.
  • Use only well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes.
  • Water the plant according to the ‘soak and dry’ method every 2 weeks or so and adjust the watering schedule in summer when your Trachyandra Tortilis goes dormant.
  • Use only small amounts of fertilizer during the growing period.
  • Repot your green friend once it outgrows the pot.

If you manage to follow all these guidelines, your Trachyandra will be happy and healthy.

Getting your hands on the actual plant can be challenging. You might have to get some seeds from an online store and try and grow those, but the process may take you a few years.

Of course, once you finally manage to become a proud owner of a Trachyandra Tortilis, you might want to try and propagate it. Such rare and unique plants can make incredible gifts. Or you can always leave the ribbon-leaved clones in your collection.

Finally, a Trachyandra Tortilis is the kind of plant that you can pass on to your next generation as it lives for decades. Not a lot of plants have such a superpower, by the way.   

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