Welcome to the Succulent Series. We are already into the hot October weather and this week we discuss an interesting species that is perfect for scorching heat- the Dyckia.
This razor-sharp spider-shaped plant with biting edges and unusual appearance is the hardier sun loving cousin of the tropical bromeliad. Belonging to the family Bromeliaceae, they originate from Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil. The Subfamily Pitcairnioideae houses this species with over 120 types. Here are a few types of this intriguing and unique Bromeliad.
Dyckias are not true succulents. They cannot store water in their leaves and simply enter a period of dormancy if drought or extreme heat strikes. Their tough leather-like leaves do well to protect them from the elements, however, and they will fit in well with a xeriscape garden, alongside other drought tolerant plants.
Pictured above: the Dyckia Platyphylla
How do I incorporate Dyckias into my garden?
Dyckias are as hardy and resillient as the toughest cotyledons, euphorbias and sun-hardy aloes. Integrate them into your landscape in hot spots alongside other hardy succulents to create texture and interest. Plant them in and amongst taller succulent species which will provide contrast.
Planting a bed with barrel cacti, various euphorbia milii and euphorbia firesticks, cotyledon chalk fingers and dyckias will be an instant water-wise hit. Place large boulders in the bed to ground the installation and scatter rocks in the landscape for low lying texture.
Green, red or yellow leaves are most commonly edged with sharp silver margins. A tight rosette forms and cascades down, making an excellent plant to “drape” from a pot.
Whilst most bromeliads flower once and die (much like Agaves) Dyckias can flower repeatedly. Once estabished they are hardy and do not need much care. Dyckias can range in size from roughly 10cm to half a meter in diameter.
Some species will produce pups (offsets) whilst others divide naturally at the head. Offsets can be removed and planted. Do this when the offsets are half the size of the original plant. Roots will develop slowly and may need rooting hormone to stimulate them. If potted, Dyckias will become thickly grown and will need to be separated, whilst if in the ground they will over time form a dense low growing ground cover.
Dyckias require very little water once established, unlike their water loving cousins, the tropical Bromeliads. However in the growing season they do appreciate water to stimulate growth spurts. They enjoy sun and heat and will thrive where not many other plants will. There is no need to fertilise.
They will do well in the same soil as succulents: loose, aerated and well draining is the key.
Did you know?
- Dyckias can withstand short periods of frost and are also drought tolerant.
- The family Bromeliaceae is the Pineapple family- think about the stemless form and burred silvery leaves of a pineapple and this will make sense.
- The roots are for balance, not for intake of nutrients from the soil. The Dyckia takes up its nutrients via it’s leaves.
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