Trachyandra Tortilis: The Ultimate Exotic Indoor Plant Guide

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Trachyandra Tortilis is one of the most unique succulents to inhabit the planet. Native to South Africa and parts of Madagascar, this succulent grows best in the winter of a hot climate with little water.

It’s very rare and expensive to purchase and grow, but the results are definitely worth it in its unique design! 

It’s not often you find a little succulent like the Trachyandra Tortilis. The shapes of the plants can vary from curved to curly and chaotic to simple, which is what makes it such an exciting house plant.

If you’re looking to become a new plant mom or dad to a Trachyandra Tortilis, or you may be experiencing some issues with your current plant, you’ve come to the right place! Here is our ultimate guide to the exotic Trachyandra Tortilis. 

General Description and Classification

Family: Asphodelaceae

Genus: Trachyandra

Species: Trachyandra Tortilis

Native Location: South Africa and Madagascar

The genus to the Asphodelaceae family was first defined back in 1843, and are native to various parts of Africa, Yemen, and Madagascar.

Trachyandra is a succulent that can come in either tuberous or rhizomatous perennials, and can sometimes be slightly hairy. They are small and grow in a variety of unique formations.

The most popular species of this genus include the Trachyandra Hirsutiflora, Trachyandra Falcata, Trachyandra Saltii, and of course the Trachyandra Tortilis. 

Physical Description

The leaves of a Trachyandra Tortilis come in a formation of between 4 and 8, and grow upwards in a curly fashion. Some tangle with one another and others are separated.

These leaves can either come in a tuberous or rhizomatous perennial, so some are shaped more like a tube and others are flat. They tend to grow between 10 and 15 cm when they have fully matured. 

These are winter plants, so they only flower in late winter and early spring. The blooming lasts only a day, and the flowers are pale green, pink, or white star-shaped flowers.

They don’t grow from the leaves, however, instead they grow from solid stalks from the base. Once they blossom, they’re gone the next day! 

Summer vs Winter 

As Trachyandra Tortilis is a winter plant, they go dormant in summer for roughly one month. Don’t worry if your unique plant is looking a bit dire in the summer, this is meant to happen!

Whatever you do, don’t overwater it in the hopes that it will be revived. During this dormant month, you only need to water it once or twice once the soil has dried.

It requires ventilation during the warmer months, so make sure it is in a well-lit place in a pot that can breathe properly. Once summer passes, your plant will start to look more alive. 

How long do they live for? 

Succulents are designed to last a long time, and the Trachyandra Tortilis is no different.

With good maintenance (and it doesn’t require much maintenance at all), these exotic plants can last several years to even decades. It’s hardy and so unique, so they deserve the best care so they can live their best lives. 

Care Guide 

Whilst these unique plants don’t require constant maintenance, the care they require is very specific.

It is therefore not recommended to own one of these as a beginner, as you may not understand the intricate requirements it needs. It’s not like a regular cactus succulent that barely needs watering and can reside anywhere!

Sunlight

As Trachyandra Tortilis is native to South Africa, this little succulent thrives in sunlight. However, exposure to too much harsh sunlight could shorten its lifespan significantly.

We recommend placing this little fella on a windowsill that has access to sunlight throughout the day for around 5 to 6 hours.

Whilst this may confuse people as it is a winter plant, it is important to remember that South African winters will still provide sufficient sunlight. 

Water 

As this plant is a succulent, it does not require much water. The best way to tell if a plant needs watering is to see when the soil is completely dry.

You can usually tell this by touching the surface, but you can also go as far as to stick your finger further into the soil. If it’s slightly damp, it doesn’t need watering. If it’s completely dry, it might be time to hydrate it. 

In the dormant months of summer, this plant requires only one or two watering sessions at most. The regrowth time period begins in fall, which is when the plant soaks up the most water and therefore requires hydrating once a week (ish). 

As with any plant, there is a real danger of over-watering. A succulent can actually drown if the soil hasn’t completely dried out before watering them, so avoid this!

Food 

As with all plants, the Trachyandra Tortilis requires feeding. Although it is a succulent that doesn’t need excessive nutrients, they still need food!

We recommend feeding their dry soil with fertilizer once or twice a year to encourage healthy growth, leaving your plant looking curly and bouncy as ever. 

Soil

Due to the risk of over-watering and drowning, this plant requires soil that naturally ventilates itself. Fortunately, there is succulent soil available for this specific reason.

This soil mixture works well with rocks and sand that help to drain and soak up the water. 

Temperature and Humidity

As we have explained before, this plant loves sunlight and hates over-watering. The key factors you need to consider when owning this plant include the temperature and humidity levels.

Don’t confuse sunlight with high temperatures, however, as this is a winter-growing plant after all.

The best temperature for this plant is between 41 and 59 degrees fahrenheit, which is why they love sitting by a cool windowsill to bask in the sunlight rays. 

As with water, these plants do not do well in humid conditions. They need proper ventilation to breathe and to soak up the water without it festering and dampening the soil, which will ultimately kill the plant. 

Repotting and pruning 

This is where Trachyandra Tortilis is the most low-maintenance plant of all, because it doesn’t require constant repotting. The leaves grow slowly from the roots, so they don’t need pruning. 

Cleaning

Due to the coily and curly-leaf structure, these plants will get dusty. Not only will it affect the plant’s health as the dust will clog up the breathing pores, but this can also affect your own breathing in the long run.

We recommend using a little damp paintbrush to clean away any dust or debris. Some plants require water spraying, but this could risk over-watering the succulent. 

Propagation 

As these plants are so rare and expensive to find, it’s a good idea to propagate them to expand your little Trachyandra Tortilis family. Fortunately, succulents are easy to propagate from either leaf cuttings or seeds.

As propagation from seeds can take a long time – often over a year before the plant starts properly growing – we recommend the leaf cutting method. Here is how to propagate them properly! 

Leaf cuttings: 

  • With sharp and clean scissors, cut a leaf from the plant without twisting it. 
  • Wait several days until the plant grows a callus – cells which tend to a plant’s open wound much like how a cut becomes a scab or scar on a human. 
  • In a new potting mixture (watered and now drained), plant the cutting and water the soil. Let it dry out, and then continue the watering process as normal. 

Where To Buy a Trachyandra Tortilis 

As these plants are exotic and rare, it won’t be easy to buy them. Collectors and breeders may hold on to their plants to preserve them. The best places to find seeds or plants to buy would be either online or at a specialist plant trade fair.

Online websites such as Amazon can often sell these plants at a high price, but specialist plant fairs offer the chance to speak directly to the sellers and collectors. 

Final words

So, there you have it! The complete guide to the Trachyandra Tortilis. As exotic and complex as these plants may appear, the care and maintenance requirements aren’t actually too difficult to follow.

However, these requirements are incredibly specific, and therefore should only be followed by those who understand succulent plants. These are a rare and unique species that must be protected and preserved, so the care requirements must be followed precisely!

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