What Are the Common Types of Caudex Plants?

Caudex plants are excellent for people looking to add variety to their indoor gardens. These plants have a long history, dating all the way back to the 1800s. Most people don’t realize that many of the plants their grandparents grew in their yard were actually caudex plants. T
A caudex plant.

If you are an ardent succulent lover, you must have encountered a caudex plant and wondered what it was. The swollen trunk is the main giveaway. Also known as caudiform plants, caudex succulents are popular, even though the overall concept of this plant remains unclear. Most succulents in this category also have exciting names making them unique. They make great indoor decorative plants since they have an attractive appearance. Although most caudex varieties are succulents, we also have caudex trees, vines, and bonsai.

So, what are some of the common types of caudex plants? The best-known type of caudex plant is probably Stephania erecta. Also known as the “potato plant,” this plant has a tuber resembling a potato. The tuber is deliberately potted above the ground level to contrast beautifully. The other common types of caudex plant include the beaucarnea ponytail palm, known for its prolific green foliage; the Madagascar palm tree, known for its tall, thin leaves; the Euphorbia stellata; Rock fig caudex plant; and Begonia partita caudex plant.

This blog post discusses some common types of caudex plants and their unique characteristics. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

What Are Caudex Plants?

Before we dive into the common types of caudex plants, it’s crucial to understand what a caudex plant is.

The term caudex is Latin, meaning “tree trunk” in English. So, in Latin, it is used to refer to the axis of a woody plant, such as the palm tree. These plants are usually classified as Pachycauls, meaning “thick stem.”

Caudex plants are known for their characteristic swollen stem or trunk. This stem/trunk helps to store water during dry periods, making them drought tolerant and drought resilient. The swollen stem also makes them aesthetically pleasing when grown in pots or other containers.

A stephania Caudex plant.
Caudex plants are known for their characteristic swollen stem or trunk.

The caudex stem and roots are never below the ground. Some people call them “fat plants” thanks to their unique appearance.

One of the reasons the roots stay above the ground is to help the plant withstand a rough period before it starts growing swiftly when the weather conditions improve.

The stem stores enough water and nutrients to nourish it through prolonged drought spells.

These plants feature a substantial center storage space and are highly delicate. Their leaves will only be present when the weather conditions are favorable.

So, don’t be worried if your caudex plant sheds its leaves for several months in a year.

These plants are slow growing but great for indoor and outdoor decorative purposes. They also make great gifts since they can serve as a living reminder of special moments shared by two people.

Common Types of Caudex Plants

Now that we have discussed what caudex plants are all about let’s get into the common types of caudex plants.

Beaucarnea Ponytail Palm

The Beaucarnea ponytail palm is also known as the “Elephant Foot plant” and is one of the most popular caudex plants in the world.

It is famous for its evergreen foliage and large trunk. The leaves are ponytail-like and curled hence the name “ponytail palm.”

This succulent plant adds a touch of the tropics to every room in your house. If you want to add a lovely caudex plant to your home without investing much effort in caring for it, the Beaucarnea ponytail palm is the best option.

A Beaucarnea Ponytail Palm exposed to sunlight.
It is famous for its evergreen foliage and large trunk.

It can be grown as a bonsai and requires less light and water than other palm trees.

Unfortunately, the Beaucarnea ponytail palm rarely blooms indoors, but it can produce beautiful flower stalks when grown outdoors. Clusters of yellow flowers will emerge from the leaves in the summer if the conditions are right.

The Beaucarnea ponytail palm can reach up to 16 feet when grown outdoors but rarely goes beyond seven feet when grown indoors.

The plant thrives in relatively strong light since it is classified as a desert plant. However, it can endure moderate shade but will need to grow faster.

Since the root system of a Beaucarnea ponytail palm is similar to that of a cactus, you don’t need to water it frequently.

Generally, consider watering it every two weeks, although you can cut it to weekly if exposed to direct sunlight.

Plant it in specialized palm soil and apply fertilizer in spring and summer. Use a liquid cactus fertilizer every two to four weeks. Cut down the fertilization frequency to once every month during the off-season.

Stephania erecta

Also known as the “Potato Plant,” this plant has a tuber resembling a potato. The tuber is deliberately potted above the ground level to contrast beautifully. It features long, thin stems, fleshy oval leaves, and a single tuber.

The Stephania erecta is native to Central America and is also grown as an ornamental plant in some parts of the world.

It requires little care and maintenance since it can survive without water for long periods.

Therefore, you don’t have to worry about watering your plant regularly. The soil should, however, be kept slightly moist.

A Stephania erecta exposed to sunlight.
The tuber is deliberately potted above the ground level to contrast beautifully.

The Stephania erecta is a great fit for indoor and outdoor environments since it doesn’t require direct sunlight. It does, however, need plenty of indirect sunlight to grow healthy.

You can also put your plant in a shady spot outdoors or place it near but not directly in front of a south-facing window indoors.

The Stephania erecta should be planted in light, well-drained soil mixed with some organic matter.

You should also use fertilizer during the growing season but reduce the frequency of application once the active growth slows down.

This plant doesn’t need any pruning or trimming and can be grown in containers of almost any size.

The Stephania erecta is an excellent choice if you want something different and unique to add to your home. It has an intriguing shape and can quickly draw attention with its eye-catching appearance.

The plant is also easy to care for and doesn’t require much maintenance, making it an excellent option for novice gardeners.

Madagascar Palm Caudex Plant

The Madagascar palm caudex plant is another classic caudex plant that makes a beautiful home decoration plant.

The most outstanding feature of the plant is its tall, thin, tapering leaves that envelop its stem. This plant produces beautiful flowers resembling frangipani blossoms.

The Madagascar palm tree can easily be recognized by its spear-shaped, dark green leaves and its single, strong trunk that may contain thorns.

The trunk is always grey. The plant produces tiny flowers every spring, but they may last up to the beginning of summer. The flowers are mostly white but can also be red, pink, or yellow.

A Madagascar Palm Caudex Plant exposed to sunlight.
The Madagascar palm tree can easily be recognized by its spear-shaped.

When grown outdoors, the Madagascar palm tree can grow up to 24 feet tall with an array of spiral leaves at its top. However, it only goes up six feet tall when cultivated indoors.

This caudex plant may take up to a decade to reach maturity. It thrives in full sun, although it can tolerate partial shade.

It is highly sensitive to excessive water. Therefore, you must let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions.

It generally prefers well-drained soil with a pH of between 6 and 7.8. Feel free to apply fertilizer on your Madagascar palm at the start of summer and spring. Be sure to use liquid fertilizer for better results.

Rock Fig Caudex Plant

The rock fig caudex plant is known for its dense roots and stems that extend above the ground.

It features a short, thick trunk with long branches branching in different directions. The plant produces small, clustered green leaves with white veins running through them.

This caudex plant can be grown outdoors and indoors since it is easy to care for. When placed outdoors, it prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

Planting the rock fig in a pot with plenty of drainage holes is good since it is highly susceptible to root rot.

Rock fig plant in a rocky area.
This caudex plant can be grown outdoors and indoors since it is easy to care for.

Outdoors, the rock fig can grow up to five feet high, while indoors, it won’t exceed four feet tall. Therefore, choose a large pot for the plant’s root system.

To keep your rock fig caudex healthy, it needs regular watering in its growing season (spring and summer).

You can water it twice weekly, but let the soil dry completely between watering sessions. During the winter months, reduce watering as the plant takes a rest.

It would be best to fertilize your rock fig caudex once or twice a month during the active growing season.

Use a balanced fertilizer and dilute it with water before applying it to the soil. The rock fig won’t require pruning since its natural shape is impressive.

Final Thoughts

Caudex plants are great for the home decoration since they add an exotic look to any space.

Many different caudex plants exist, such as the Stephania erecta, Madagascar Palm tree, and Rock Fig Caudex plant.

All these plants require relatively similar care but have unique features that make them stand out.

With the proper care and attention, you can create a beautiful living piece of art from these beautiful plants.

So why not try it and bring some natural beauty into your home? Good luck!

Last update on 2023-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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