Monanthes polyphylla [mon-AN-theez pol-ee-FIL-uh] is part of a small group of interesting succulents. These succulents grow either in tiny bushes or clumps. They seldom reach 4″-6″ inches in height and produce pretty little flowers.
It is native to the Canary Islands. The Salvage Islands and the Portuguese Island of Madeira. These succulents are part of the family Crassulaceae. There are about 18 species, 7 of which can be found in Tenerife.
They are low, creeping, bushy plants with a very characteristic appearance. Little rosettes of tiny leaves grow at the tips of the thin stems.
The name Monanthes, is derived from Greek and literally translates to “one flower”. With mono meaning one, and anthes meaning flower. Polyphylla means many leaves.
Other species in the Monanthes genus include:
- Monanthes muralis – compact, bushy plant, about 3″-4″ inches tall. Synonym Monanthes subcrassicaulis
- Monanthes laxiflora – grows to about 6″ inches tall. Soft, velvety sheen comes from the small “blisters” on the stems and leaves. Yellowish to purplish flowers with red spots.
- Monanthes brachycaulos – blunt pointed, spatula shaped leaves, purplish green flowers, hairy calyxes.
Monanthes Polyphylla Care
The leaves of Polyphylla have a gel-like appearance. They are somewhat shiny, with surfaces that look clumpy. It is a drought-resistant plant.
You will also find this plant referred to as the Dwarf Crassula or the One flowered houseleek.
The latter name is descriptive of the fact that the flowers that grow on this plant stand solo.
The Sunset Succulents and Cactus book describes them as: Light green plump leaves; small rosettes clustered together in cushions.
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Succulents describes them as: Sedum like plants with usually rough, somewhat crystalline leaves and a ring of conspicuous nectar glands in each flower.
Size & Growth
The Monanthes Polyphylla reaches about 2″-6″ inches in height. They grow to have a diameter of no more than an inch. Their height including flowers does not exceed 8” inches.
At the end of their stems, they have characteristic small rosettes of succulent leaves.
The popularity of this plant is largely due to the little care required to grow it.
It also helps that it does not spread to take up too much room unless actively propagated.
Flowering and Fragrance
Each succulent Monanthes polyphylla usually yields a single tiny flower. The flowers will have a pink/purple, brown, and near-white color. They bloom from March – June and Mid-Fall.
The small star-shaped flowers are rather curious. They are either yellow, pink, or greenish, with a “waxy” look but no fragrance.
Light & Temperature
Do not place Monanthes in direct sun. Normal room temperature- 65° – 75° degrees Fahrenheit – not too warm, throughout the year.
Watering and Feeding
Monanthes Polyphylla grows naturally on shaded cliffs and damp rocks. This gives a clear indication of the plants watering requirements.
They do not require much water to thrive.
Water with moderation. In summer, allow the potting soil to dry out completely. In the winter, water only when the soil surface seems dry.
Monanthes Polyphylla will be adversely affected more from overwatering than by a lack of it.
When watering pay attention to how they respond in your growing location.
Fertilize plants once or twice a year with a liquid fertilizer at 1/2 strength.
Soil & Transplanting
Drainage is important when growing Monanthes. They do not do well in waterlogged areas.
Repot on every other year using a soil for cactus or create a soil mix from ½ commercial potting soil and ½ sand. Adding pumice will also help with drainage.
Grooming and Maintenance
This succulent can grow without much grooming or maintenance.
Trim faded flowers, remove straggly stems as cuttings to start new plants.
How To Propagate Monanthes Polyphylla
The bushy varieties like Laxiflora and Muralis are increased with tips cuttings. The cushion like varieties like Polyphylla should be propagated by division.
Propagating by Cuttings
- The cuttings should be set aside and allowed to dry before potting.
- When ready, place the cuttings in moist, sandy soil.
- Plants root quickly in pots when place in bright indirect light
Propagating by Division (Polyphylla)
- Carefully remove the polyphylla from its pot.
- Cut plant into several sections
- Each section should have rosettes and roots.
- Plant each section into small pots using a well-draining cactus potting mix
- Place in bright indirect light
Monanthes Polyphylla Pest or Disease Problems
Mealybugs and Scale Insects
Wipe them off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol or remove them with a toothpick.
Read our article on How To Get Rid of Mealybugs on Succulents
The yellowing of leaves are the result of too much sun. Move the plant to a location with more shade. A shady north window is ideal.
Gaps Between the Leaves
The rosettes should be tight. Gaps between leaves indicate the plant is in low lighting. But, the plant may be getting too much fertilizer. Move polyphylla to a brighter location and reduce fertilizing.
Overwatering can cause the stems to rot at the base. The black patches are the first signs of overwatering. Plants seldom survive. Take cuttings and throw out the parent plant.
Suggested Monanthes Polyphylla Uses
The low growing Monanthes plant makes them excellent for life on a windowsill or outdoors as a succulent ground cover. Use them together in a low dish with other succulents. When in bloom used them for table decoration.
When buying Monanthes look for undamaged foliage. Make sure they sit firmly in the pot, with no yellow leaves.Monanthes polyphylla can live for years but decline over time as they age. Renew large, spreading Monanthe specimens by propagating from cuttings or by division.