Chlorophytum suffruticosum is a perennial caudiciform plant native to East and Central Africa. The linear leaves reach up to 15 inches (37.5 cm) long by 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide. The grass-like leaves sprout from the top of a succulent stem up to 12 inches (30 cm) in height and 1.5 inches (4 cm) thick. It is a strange looking plant with the stems rising from a flat, knobby looking tuber that grows at soil level. Plants in the greenhouse have reached 15 inches (37.5 cm) across with as many stems arising from the tuber. It is an easy plant to grow and is hardy in the landscape in USDA zone 9-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plant blooms sporadically throughout the year. The small, 1.25 inch (3.2 cm) white flowers are borne on up to 12 inch (30 cm) panicles. There are up to 25 flowers per panicle with blooms opening every few days.
Culture: Chlorophytum suffruticosum need partial shade with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts sand or perlite. Plants are placed in a lightly shaded location and receive about 4 hours of direct sun per day. Although they look very succulent, they need to be watered and allowed to dry only slightly before watering again. If plants are allowed to dry out for very long, the plants will lose their leaves. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. During the winter months, water is somewhat restricted, but the plants are never allowed to dry out. If temperatures drop below 40°F (4°C) for very long, plants are not cold hardy; the tubers may rot if they are in the cold for too long.
Propagation: Chlorophytum suffruticosum plants are propagated from cuttings and from seed when available.
Chlorophytum suffruticosum was featured as Plant of the Week August 5-11, 2005.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.