The baby toes plant – Fenestraria (fen-es-TRAY-ree-uh), is a succulent plant belonging to the family Aizoaceae.
The plant is native to Coastal South Africa including Namaqualand in Namibia.
The plant’s botanical originates from the Latin word fenestra which means window, referring to the Baby Toe’s unique translucent window-like quality to them on the flattened tips which allow light to pass through.
Succulent Baby Toes Care
The Fenestraria species are desert dwellers exposed to lots of light. In the desert, the baby toes of these mimicry plants are buried in the sand to their tops.
Do not mimic these conditions.
Under cultivation, plants will experience less light and heat, and their leaves should not be buried or they may rot.
Size and Growth
Fenestraria is not a very tall plant. The finger-like leaves grow in upright clusters reaching up 3” to 6”. In case it has a stem, it is usually very small.
The plant is 1-1/4” inches in diameter with leaves about 1½” inches long.
Baby toes have clusters of cylindrical leaves, larger at the top, like little flat-tipped baseball bats.
The nearly colorless tops feature tiny transparent ‘windows.’
Flowering Living Stone With No Fragrance
The baby toes plant is characterized by small transparent windows along the top of the leaves that have a waxy finish to them.
These leaves allow light to pass through them and give a very appealing look to the plant. The roots of this plant are thick with little to no stem.
The daisy-like flowers bloom from late summer to early spring with flowers growing in bunches of twos or threes.
They are either white or yellow in color and, generally, do not have any fragrance.
Fenestraria aurantiaca – 3″ inch orange daisy-like flowers more than twice as wide as the clustered leaf-colony.
Fenestraria rhopalophylla – the leaves blunter with smaller white flowers. Rhopalophylla looks very similar to Frithia pulchra another member of the large family of Aizoaceae and all kinds of ice plants.
Light and Temperature
Baby Toes are tolerant to the full sun when placed outdoors; however, they thrive in partial sunlight just as well.
Make sure your plant is getting a minimum of six hours of direct sun a day.
If you are growing your baby toes indoors, it is best to place them in a spot that gets bright but indirect light.
A bright, south-facing window is the perfect location.
This is not a cold-hardy plant and requires temperatures that dip no further than 20° degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering and Feeding
During the growth phase of the plant, the Fenestraria will require active watering otherwise the plant handles drought conditions well.
In order to avoid too much water, give the soil time to dry out between watering.
Avoid watering completely during the summertime as it can cause root rot and split leaves damaging the plant.
Soil and Transplanting
Fenestraria prefers well-drained, sandy, or calciferous soil. You can create an ideal mixture by mixing potting soil with some perlite or pumice.
NOTE: Make sure to use a pot with a drainage hole.
How To Propagate Succulent Fenestraria
Baby Toes is commonly propagated by seeds or offsets.
When growing from seed, keep in mind that these succulent plants are extremely slow-growing and may not germinate at all.
Sow the seeds in a mix of well-draining cactus soil with additional builder’s sand. The best time to do this is during the fall months.
Propagating From Offsets
When propagating with offsets, use a sharp, sterile knife to remove the side growth from the mother plant or use your hands to gently pull them away from the bottom of the plant.
Once you have the offset, let it dry out for a few days before planting.
Keep it watered and make sure it gets bright light until it takes root.
Baby Toes Fenestraria Pest and Disease Problems
This plant is virtually free of pests and diseases which make it very popular to manage.
However, there are chances of root-rot if you overwater.
If leaves begin to yellow, reduce the frequency of watering.
Take care to keep pets from ingesting this plant as it can be toxic to them when eaten.
Suggested Baby Toes Uses
This is a great plant to add to a container succulent garden or landscape.
Fenestraria also grows well indoors as a window sill cactus with bright southern exposure.
More about the Window Sill Cactus here.