June 22, 2011

Tiger Jaws!!

I managed to get an invite to a special succulent sale here in Austin a couple weekends ago, and there were loads of plants I'd never seen before.  Some were part of the owner's personal collection, but fortunately there was an awesome selection for purchase.  Making like a fat kid in a candy store, I bought up!  It will probably bite me in the butt, but I buy with the idea that the offer might not come around again.  Plus plants are one of my few splurges, and I'm still killing a number of them although the percentage is getting smaller and smaller which makes it a little tricky as far as space goes.

One of the plants I bought was Faucaria felina subsp. tuberculosa (aka Pebbled Tiger Jaws, Tiger Jaws, Knobby Tiger Jaws, Shark's Jaws, Faucaria tuberculosa, and Mesembryanthemum tuberculosum).  You might be wondering why there are so many synonyms, and the reason is that this plant has been placed in a couple different genuses/species.  The most recent move was in 1999 when Groen and Van Der Maesen condensed the 30-something species in the Faucaria genus into 6!  So Faucaria tuberculosa was labeled a subspecies of Faucaria felina.

This is a low-growing, clumping succulent native to South Africa.  The individual plants are quite small (around 2" tall and 1" wide), and the flowers are ridiculously huge in comparison to the plant.  I'm always amazed at the displays succulents create.  Tiny little plant, GIANT bloom!  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of it in bloom, but I do have a different angle on the plant.

I keep finding conflicting information on this plant.  Some say to water somewhat frequently.  Others say to leave it nearly dry.  At the sale, I was told to water every couple weeks or so.  I think I'm going to gauge when the water based on the turgidity of the leaves since they'll shrink a bit when they're dry.  When I repot, I'll probably give it a lot of drainage.

Speaking of drainage, I've been thinking and reading that the concept of "drainage" is a myth.  It boils down to how much air is in the soil.  For instance, my Sarracenia are in a very compact, boggy mix of peat moss and sand, and most of my succulents are in a very loose mix of different ingredients.  The ingredients include things like perlite, vermiculate, gravel, etc.  All the things you think of when it comes to drainage.  However, I've also been adding pine bark mulch to the mix as an inexpensive, lightweight substitute for other ingredients.  The mulch is very loose and doesn't compact too well because of its irregular shapes.  It does stay "damp", but it also allows a lot of air into the mix.  Now I've changed my thinking about succulent potting soil.  It's not about "draining" water from the roots - it's about letting air into the mix.  Ok, now back to Tiger Jaws.

It's in the plant group of living stones which kinda surprises me since it doesn't look like a lithop to me, but the growth/bloom habit is definitely similar.  I'm guessing it's in that group because lithops look like stones, and they probably overshadow all the other members in the group.

And like lithops, I'm having a hard time deciding how to display/pot this plant to show it off.  Should it be grouped with other plants?  Should I let it grow into a large clump in its own pot?  What kind of pot would show this one off the best?  If I could manage to find a small pot that matched the plant color perfectly, I think that would look the best, but a nice dark brown pot might also look really good.  Or maybe yellow to mimic the bloom color?

How would you grow this plant?


  1. I adore Tiger Jaws! Great purchase!!!

  2. So many decisions! I know it can be hard. Maybe a ceramic pot with swirls of colors. Brown and yellow or squash. You know...the shiny pots. May cost a bit. But would look nice. Brown would be great or tan. Just no green. I am a grouper but I have seen this plant by itself and it is awesome. Matter of fact I have one or two that are partially hidden by other plants that I should put in a pot by themselves. My plants are in shade or partial. Also whatever planting mix you use don't let the roots sit in water or stay damp. They need to dry out between watering. And yes definitely watch the leaves for sign of wrinkling.

  3. Mine is in a pot with others, but is close to the edge so I never miss the blooms! I agree with Candy though, that it would be great all by itself too! The blooms are something special too! Great addition to your collection!

  4. Julie - Yay!

    Candy - I think "squash" is going to be very fashionable very soon. I'll keep an eye out for a pot that color.

    Mandy - Putting it close to the edge in a mixed pot is definitely a thought. I have some decisions to make!

  5. This has been very helpful. The plant is new to me, and it's miserable..downright sad and fed up with me..but it's still alive. So...new plan. Thanks bloggers.


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