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Caudiciform & Bulb Succulents
Thick Caudex Rarities, Super Drought Tolerant
Caudiciform (cah-DIS-i-form) & Bulb Succulents take the term "fat plants" to a whole new level. These varieties are not necessarily closely related, but they share a distinctive form. Caudiciforms have a swollen caudex, a woody area between the stem and roots that stores water. Bulb succulents grow from a bulbous food reserve of modified leaves. In cultivation, both are often planted "high" with at least part of the caudex or bulb exposed above the soil. Pachycaul succulents are also included here, and form a stout, tree-like trunk. Read on for special care info for these rare and unusual succulents.
Though genetically unrelated, all these plants come from particularly dry, sunny climates. Their swollen caudices, bulbs, and trunks help them store enough food and water to make it through long dry seasons. Most also slow down their growth and experience seasonal dormancy to tolerate extended droughts. A deciduous caudiciform will lose its leaves during dormancy, during which time it's important to keep the plant dry. The foliage will re-sprout (usually in spring) when the rains return in the wild or the gardener resumes watering. Refer to each plant's description for more specific seasonal care info.
As drought tolerant plants, caudiciform and bulb succulents need rapidly draining soil to prevent rot. In the wild, most grow in rocky soil, so this Bonsai Jack Gritty Mix is a great substitute in cultivation. Be sure to plant in containers with drainage holes, ideally in a porous material like these Terracotta Pots.
Caudiciform and bulb succulents can be planted high with their bases mostly exposed above the soil line. They require plenty of sunshine and lots of patience, as they are slow-growers and spend part of the year without leaves. Pests and disease can be mitigated with proper watering and airflow. If they do invade, spray thoroughly with 70% isopropyl alcohol every day until the issue is resolved.