Fenestraria Baby Toes – or the most adorable succulent you’ll see all week – has a lot going for it, including but not limited to its name, so let’s unpack that, shall we?
Also called the rather underwhelming Window Plant, Fenestraria Baby Toes got this name because of its leaves which are small and – well – toe-like in shape with small blisters at the top which act as little windows to let the light in and provide the much-needed photosynthesis. Fenestraria actually comes from the Latin “fenestra” which translates to “window”.
These succulents are easy to grow and require very little to make them happy, as their natural habitat is dry and sandy, with little rainfall. Here, Baby Toes like to camouflage themselves close to the sandy floors and pretend they are pebbles on the ground.
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About Fenestraria Baby Toes
- The Fenestraria rhopalophylla is native to South Africa and Namibia.
- It belongs to the Aizoaceae family, a family of plants that contains about 1800 species. These plants are referred to as ice plants because they usually have bladder-like pustules on top of their leaves that catch the sunlight.
- The Fenestraria Baby Toes’ stems are barely visible as they usually grow underground and only the tips of the leaves are visible.
- Baby Toes are part of the mimicry succulent types – which usually grow in clusters and are also known as mesembs.
- The Fenestraria Baby Toes’ tips have no green pigment in them and serve as conductors and filters for the desert sunlight.
- The “windows” of the Baby Toes are transparent are a good indicator of the health of your succulent as they will start to lose their shape if they are under or overwatered.
- A healthy Fenestraria will bloom during the fall continuously producing either one or more white or yellow flowers.
- The Baby Toes plant which sprouts yellow flowers is actually a subspecies of Fenestraria called F. aurantiaca.
Fenestraria Baby Toes Features: An Overview
- The Fenestraria rhopalophylla is small in size growing in diameter rather than in height which will typically be around 3 inches.
- The leaves of the Baby Toes can grow up to 1.6 inches or 4 centimeters.
- Fenestraria Baby Toes flowers will vary in height but will resemble daisies with numerous small and elongated petals.
- The blooming process will occur starting with late summer and end in early spring – however, this process will be highly impacted by the health of the plant and its access to a well-lit, ventilated space.
- Fenestraria Baby Toes succulents are active during the fall through late spring or early summer but will be dormant during the peak of summer.
- Fenestraria rhopalophylla is a sturdy succulent which can survive temperatures as low as 25-30 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 to -1.1 degrees Celsius), however, keeping it at such a low-temperature point for prolonged periods is a sure-fire way to harm the plant.
Growing Fenestraria Baby Toes
Since it is also known as the Window Plant or Vesternplant in Afrikaans, the Baby Toes thrives on windowsills and other bright places. However, you should be careful not to place it in a location that has direct mid-day sunlight as you will run the risk of giving it sunburns.
That being said, this is a plant that does not mind being kept outdoors either, it actually prefers it as long as the right conditions are met. These conditions consist of it being sheltered from excessive rain, direct sunlight, and enjoying steady temperatures of over 30° Fahrenheit (-1.1° Celsius).
If the temperatures drop below this point in your area you should keep your Baby Toes succulents inside to prevent freezing. These adorable succulents are the most comfortable at temperatures of 66° F (19° C) and it’s recommended that at least 6 hours of indirect bright light are provided.
You can also provide fertilizer which is typically used for cacti or succulents if you find that your Baby Toes need a little boost. However, you should only give the fertilizer during their active periods and in small doses.
If a Fenestraria Baby Toes succulent is happy with its environment and with the amounts of water that it gets, it will bloom white, odorless flowers. The number of flowers this tiny succulent can produce varies anywhere from 1 to 4 at the same time, with some growers claiming even more. Once the flowers start to wither you should remove them by cutting their stems to ensure your Baby Toes succulent can resume its growing process.
Planting and Repotting Fenestraria Baby Toes
The Fenestraria Baby Toes succulent is very similar to cacti when it comes to the type of soil it prefers. The soil should be a combination of pumice, perlite, and sand and its pot should have holes at the bottom to ensure water build-up does not happen.
The size of the pot you plant this succulent in can vary to your needs as long as you consider its requirements for the type of soil and its ability to drain water. Because of their clustering quality, some people prefer to create a decorative ensemble of multiple gatherings within a larger pot. Fenestraria Baby Toes succulents are sociable little fellas and don’t mind being in the same pot as other types of succulents, especially the ones from their native land.
When it comes to repotting, the Baby Toes should not have their leaves buried as this might predispose them to rot. Additionally, repotting is very important when purchasing your Baby Toes. Because they are not expected to stay long in a store and be minimal maintenance while there, Baby Toes are usually placed in normal potting soil which will encourage water to build up at their roots.
Unfortunate growers who buy Fenestraria Baby Toes often complain about their plants dying soon after purchase. That’s because the plants were overwatered, underwatered, or planted in inappropriate soil by the sellers.
To prevent damage, as soon as you get home with your new succulent you should remove it from its store-soil and clean its roots gently but thoroughly to ensure no soil can clog them up before repotting them in a sandier, more airy mix.
Watering Fenestraria Baby Toes
This is another similarity they share with other succulents and cacti, in that the Baby Toes succulent is very prone to root rot. So, to ensure the health of your plant, you should provide water when the soil is dry to the touch and stop or minimize waterings during its dormant season (in the peak of summer).
One of the benefits of owning a Fenestraria Baby Toes is that it is a very good communicator, so in case of overwatering it will let you know. When this happens, the tips of the leaves will start to crack and the leaves themselves will turn yellow due to the excessive amounts of water, or they will start to shrivel in case of underwatering.
As they have no natural pests, the issues caused by improper watering are the leading cause of Baby Toes’ demise.
Propagating Fenestraria Baby Toes
The propagation of Baby Toes succulents can be done both by seed or offset. It is worth mentioning that for most gardeners and succulent growers the offset route is preferred, as seeds take a long time to grow and with less reliable results.
If, however, you’d like to give seed-sowing a try you should plant them during the fall months in the same type of soil you keep the mother plant – which should be an airy combination. Additionally, you should cover the seed with sand to ensure an even more favorable environment and, if you live in a colder environment you can also use a growing lamp to maximize your chances of success.
Once the seeds have been planted, cover the container with a plastic foil to favor moisture and warmth. Keep the seedlings in a lower lit environment with a steady temperature of at least 66.2° F (19° Celsius).
Propagating the Fenestraria Baby Toes by offsets means you should remove one of the babies of the Baby Toes either by pulling it gently from the soil (which is considered to be a little bit riskier as you can damage the root system) or by cutting one of the offsets. The cutting process should be done with a clean, sharp knife with which you can cut the desired offset.
Once you have your offset secured, you can leave it to dry for a couple of days on a piece of paper or tissue (being careful not to forget about it) and afterward place it in a pot that has drainage holes.
Fenestraria rhopalophylla or Baby Toes is an easy-to-care-for succulent which requires minimal interaction but comes with a specific set of instructions to ensure its longevity.
You can grow Fenestraria Baby Toes either indoors or outdoors for decoration or you can use it in landscaping projects. Thanks to their interesting shape and small size, Fenestraria Baby Toes succulents can easily become the point of interest in any room or garden.
When it comes to growing Baby Toes succulents, you should know that these are low-fuss plants that can thrive both alone and in bigger groups. If you want to make your life even easier when caring for Baby Toes, you can use a pot that is just a bit smaller than the plant itself which will not only make it look even cuter, but it will also limit the possibility of overwatering.
Are you growing Baby Toes succulents? Share your experience with us in the comments!