Houseplant of the week: century plant | Life and style

Why will I love it?
Its dramatic, architectural, fleshy leaves and impressive size make it one of nature’s finest living sculptures – and one of my favourite plants. The century plant (Boophone disticha) also has a fascinating structure: at the heart of this succulent lies a bulb – a reservoir of nutrients and water – that allows the plant to withstand periods of drought (AKA neglect) with ease.

Light or shade?
It thrives in bright, indirect light.

Where should I put it?
Consider placing it in a spacious spot in your sitting room, where you can admire its grandeur and commanding presence.

How do I keep it alive?
Water the plant thoroughly once a week in summer, allowing the soil to dry out inbetween. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. In winter, reduce watering to once every four to six weeks. Plant it in free-draining cactus and succulent soil and maintain indoor temperatures between 18C and 24C to mimic its native climate.

Did you know …
The common names also include tumbleweed, poison bulb, and sore-eye flower. This South African native produces striking clusters of red flowers that can irritate the eyes in confined spaces, so place them outside if in bloom. If ingested, the bulb is poisonous, so keep it out of reach of pets and children. It can live for several decades but, despite its name, won’t last for a century.


What makes it special?

The century plant (Boophone disticha) is a stunning living sculpture with dramatic, architectural, fleshy leaves and an impressive size. It’s one of nature’s finest creations and a favorite of mine. This succulent has a unique structure, with a bulb at its core that stores nutrients and water, allowing it to thrive even during periods of neglect or drought.

Light requirements:

This plant thrives in bright, indirect light.

Best placement:

Place it in a spacious area in your living room where you can appreciate its grandeur and strong presence.

Care tips:

Water the plant thoroughly once a week during summer, letting the soil dry out between waterings. Avoid overwatering to prevent root rot. In winter, water every four to six weeks. Use well-draining cactus and succulent soil and keep indoor temperatures between 18C and 24C to replicate its natural habitat.

Fun facts:

The century plant is also known as tumbleweed, poison bulb, and sore-eye flower. Its red flowers can irritate the eyes in enclosed spaces, so place them outdoors when blooming. The plant is toxic if ingested, so keep it away from pets and children. While it can live for decades, it doesn’t actually last a century despite its name.