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What is Dyckia?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2016
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Dyckia is a plant genus that is part of the Bromeliaceae plant family. It consists of over one hundred species of plants that are native to Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia. Most of the species have thick, succulent leaves that are arranged in a circular fashion and are generally green, tan, silver or maroon. The plant blooms red, orange or yellow flowers from a thin stalk that emerges from the side in the spring. Plants within the dyckia genus can generally survive without water for long periods of time and thrive in climates with very low temperatures.

The dyckia plant genus is named after Josef Maria Franz Anton Hubert Ignatz (1773-1861), a botanist that held the title of Prince in the German county of Salm-Reifferscheid-Dyck. He traveled throughout South America and was considered an expert on succulents. The species within the dyckia genus were introduced to Europe throughout the 19th century.

Most of the plants within the dyckia genus do well when grown in an area that is exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day. The average temperature should be 40-90°F (about 4-32°C), but the plants will tolerate temperatures as low as 15°F (about -9°C) and temperatures well above 100°F (

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For healthy development, the soil should be rich in organic material and well-draining. Applying a diluted fertilizer regularly, from spring to fall, generally increases the growth rate of the dyckia. During the wintertime, fertilizers aren't necessary and watering is generally reduced.

Although plants within the dyckia genus can survive drought conditions by becoming dormant, they still require regular watering during the growing season. This is because the plant lacks internal water storage tissues unlike true succulents. Thus, their leaves will wilt and become very dry without water, especially during the summer time. What's truly remarkable about the dyckia genus is that once watering is resumed, the leaves become vibrant and lively.

Most species have spiky leaves and difficult root systems, which make propagation a risky proposition. It is recommended to wear leather gloves and to use a small saw or hatchet to divide the tough plant. After separating a portion of the plant, treat it with rooting hormone and place it in a large pot with well draining soil. Once established, the plant will eventually outgrow the container and should be re-potted or transplanted outdoors.

The majority of the species within this genus are pest free, but slugs and brown scales have been known to feed on the plant. Usually, a simple wash with a water hose will remove any insects. A greater concern would be rot, which is usually caused by over watering during the winter.

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