A deciduous climbing vine, Dioscorea elephantipes is grown as much for the large woody caudex as it is for the foliage.
Being summer deciduous this is a drought tolerant plant that actually requires a dry summer. The growth period is from late summer through winter into spring.
This is a plant that requires a hot dry summer to grow well it also needs protection from frosts and freezes.
Drainage and watering are the key to growing Dioscorea elephantipes successfully.
- Plant in a container using a specialist cactus and succulent potting mix with 20 – 20 pumice mixed through to ensure good drainage.
- Allowed the soil to dry between waterings and it is the soil around the woody caudex that is watered, not the caudex itself.
- Fertilise during active growth periods with a 25% strength solution of a liquid fertiliser, seaweed and fish emulsion is ideal.
- As the old foliage dies back you can prune it right down to the caudex itself.
- Provide support the long stems that appear from the caudex in late summer.
As the caudex gets larger you will need to repot. Make sure that you use a pot that is just a little larger than the caudex itself, around 1/3 the diameter of the caudex larger is ideal.
Dioscorea elephantipes Propagation
Usually from seed which are sown into seed trays and covered with a free draining potting mix.
Plant seeds at around 2.5 cm deep and water in once.
- Botanical Name – Dioscorea elephantipes
- Common Name – Elephant’s Foot. Hottentot bread,
- Family – Dioscorea
- Origins – Southern Africa
- Height – The vine will climb to around 1 metre in height.
- Spread – The woody caudex will reach around 45 cm across over time
- Growth rate – Slow.
- Position – Full sun.
- Soil – Free draining
- Flowers – Small yellow to pink.
- Flowering Time – Late summer
- Foliage – Mid to deep green.
- Frost tolerant – Yes
- Drought tolerant – Yes