If you have a warm, dry, sunny flat and room on the windowsill, then this plant will prove a welcome addition to your household.
The genus Faucaria embraces 33 species indige-nous to the deserts and semi-deserts of South Africa. They are relatively small plants with succulent leaves which have fine teeth on the edges curved towards the centre of the plant, making them look like the open jaws of a beast of prey (hence the names by which it is known such as tiger’s chaps and cat’s chaps).
The species has a short firm stem which sends up deep green leaves to a height of about 15 cm (6 in). In time it forms a clump of plants so that it nicely fills the dish in which it is grown. The golden-yellowwhich grow from the centre of the rosette are surprisingly large, up to 3.5 cm (l-¼ in) in diameter.
All species of Faucaria are undemanding plants requiring only nourishing well-drained compost, such, as John Innes potting compost No. 1 with additional sand, and a spot with plenty of sun. The growth period is relatively short; water should be provided from late May and when flowering is finished (in August or September) limited to the minimum, only to keep the compost from drying out completely. Ample ventilation is very important.
Propagation is not difficult — usually by division, though plants may also be multiplied from seed, which has good powers of germination. In the latter instance, however, the grower must have a great deal of patience, for the plants will not produce flowers until after about three years.
Dish arrangements containing Faucaria and other members of the same family from the genera Pleiospilos, Lampranthus and Lithops, which have the same requirements in cultivation, make a striking display. A word of warning, however; water must be definitely limited to the bare minimum for several months, otherwise the plants may be completely destroyed, even though the grower means well.