Othonna capensis (oh-THON-nuh ka-PEN-sis) hails from South Africa and is a member of the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
The Othonna plant has several common names. In English, it is often referred to as :
- Ruby Necklace
- Little Pickles
In Africa, Othonna capensis “Little Pickles” is commonly known as “Bobbejaankool.”
In ideal settings, Othonna “Little Pickles” are evergreen. They grow from year to year as tender perennials and make wonderful hanging succulent plants.
In harsh climates where they may be killed by a hard freeze, they are often planted as annuals. Alternately, they can be easily and successfully kept as houseplants in any climate.
Othonna Capensis Care
Othonna Capensis Size & Growth:
The size, shape and growth rate of Othonna plants vary. This succulent groundcover spreads quickly and easily in its hot, dry native environment.
Most plants grow no more than two inches tall and spread to be about eight inches wide. This is a quick growing plant.
Ruby Necklace Flowering & Fragrance:
For the most part, “Little Pickles” plants produce very small, dainty, yellow daisy-like flowers.
The blooms stand above the foliage on long, slim stems. Sometimes the flowers may be purple or white.
The fragrant blossoms are attractive to a wide variety of pollinators including butterflies, bees and other insects.
Flowering time may vary from one location to another, but generally speaking these plants bloom from late in the spring to early in the autumn (May through October).
Othonna Foliage & Growth Habit:
Othonna capensis has very succulent leaves and grows in a spiral pattern around long, slim pink, purple or red stems.
Depending on setting and nutrients available, leaves may vary in length from a quarter inch to four inches long. The leaves are fingerlike (or pickle like if the plant’s common name is to be believed) and blue-gray in color.
What Light & Temperature Does Othonna Capensis Grow Best In?
Capensis plants do well in lighting ranging from partial shade to full sun. However, the Othonna plant does not like extended exposure to very hot sunlight.
The succulent Othonna is recommended to grow outdoors year-round in USDA hardiness zones 9a through 11.
When growing Othonna plants in full sun or in only a small amount of shade, the leaves remain stiff and blue-gray. Too little sunlight causes the leaves to become greener, very thin, stretched and floppy.
Watering & Feeding Othonna Capensis
Highly drought tolerant, these water-wise plants, like most succulents, prefer occasional deep watering. Allow the soil to dry almost completely between waterings.
Water throughout the growing season and reduce watering during the plants’ dormant time.
Fertilizer is optional. If you do fertilize, use a very weak solution of a liquid cactus or succulent formula.
Soil & Transplanting Othonna:
These plants do very well in sharply well-draining soil. A good mix for Othonna consists of equal parts coarse sand, vermiculite and organic material.
Grooming & Maintenance:
Deadhead flowers on “little pickle” plants regularly throughout the blooming season to encourage more blossoms. Trim and pinch back the stems to maintain the shape you prefer. Remember to save cuttings to grow new plants.
You may also like this “Pickle Plant” Senecio Stapeliiformis
How To Propagate Othonna Capensis
Cuttings are the easiest way to propagate the Capensis plant. The plant grows rampantly in its native setting, and growing it from cuttings is quite simple.
You can literally pinch a cutting from a plant, poke it into the soil of a neighboring pot and wait.
Little Pickles Succulent! Othonna Capensis!
To grow from seed, start the seed on the surface of a well-draining soil in the springtime when the temperature is reliably 64° to 70° degrees Fahreinite.
As with most succulent seeds, keep the growing medium slightly damp and protect the seedlings from extremes in temperature and exposure until they become well established.
Main Pest or Disease Problems On Othonna Plants
Othonna capensis is carefree and establishes itself quickly in almost any soil that provides sharp drainage. Poor drainage is sure to cause root rot and problems with disease.
Like most succulents, when kept as a houseplant Othonna is susceptible to standard pests that are common to succulents, such as:
- Spider mites
- Fungus gnats
Follow “Best Practices”, such as:
- Keeping new plants in quarantine
- Avoiding overcrowding and overwatering
- Provide good ventilation
- Use appropriate insecticidal products as needed to keep these pests at bay.
Is Othonna Invasive?
In its native settings, Othonna capensis plants grow with wild abandon. If you live in areas where the plant is winter hardy, be careful not to allow Othonna to ramble off freely.
Naturally, in settings where the plant will die back during the winter it is not invasive. Likewise, if you keep it as a houseplant it will not have the opportunity to be invasive.
Best Uses for Othonna:
Depending on your setting, Othonna can be an extremely versatile plant. Some of its uses include:
- Container and Basket planting
- Stabilizing banks
- Coastal gardens
- Border planting
- Retaining walls
- Rock gardens
- Wild gardens
With their dainty daisy-like blossoms and attractive, fleshy leaves Othonna is a great choice as a succulent basket plant, houseplant, greenhouse specimen, container plant to be carried indoors or outdoors, weather permitting, or outdoors year-round in a conducive rock garden or desert settings.