Native to South Africa, Pleiospilos nelii 'Royal Flush' is a type of split rock succulent, so named because of its unique appearance that allows it to camouflage against the granite rocks that cover the ground in its natural habitat. A mesemb, or member of the family of ‘mimicry plants,’ this succulent ranges from pink to purple in color, with thick, oblong leaves coated in a blanket of speckles. Growing three to five inches in width and height, these plants thrive in Zones 10 and above, meaning that they cannot tolerate anymore than a very light and brief frost.
‘Royal Flush’ is adapted to arid desert conditions, and as such requires very bright light, which will in turn help the plant maintain its purple pigmentation. Similarly, they will not tolerate overwatering, and need extremely rapidly draining soil with very minimal organic material – a mix of 75-80% pumice and 20-25% cactus soil should suffice. They also require a deep pot with sufficient drainage, in order to accommodate their long taproot. Plants should be watered about every two weeks in the spring and fall, or only when the soil is completely dry, and should not be watered at all during the summer and winter. Avoid fertilizing altogether, as too much nitrogen can lead to spongy growth predisposed to rot.
Similar to other split rocks and living stones, ‘Royal Flush’s new leaf pairs will emerge from the fissure in the center of the plant. Do not water at all while the plant is splitting, as it is important for the outer leaf pair to shrivel and shed as its stored water is used to sustain the new leaves. Interestingly, ‘Royal Flush’ should never have more than two pairs of leaves at a time – more is a phenomenon called “stacking,” and is evidence that the plant is being watered too heavily instead of pulling from its own reserves, as nature intended!
If you meet these requirements, this plant will reward you with large, dark pink blooms that will open in the afternoon and close by nightfall.