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Dioscorea elephantipes AGM

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© RHS 1970

Characteristics

Plant type

Climber/Wall Shrub or Conservatory/Greenhouse

Habit

Climbing

Resilience

Hardiness

H1c (heated greenhouse - warm temperate)

Colour

Flower

Green and Yellow in Summer

Foliage

Blue and Green in Autumn, Spring and Summer

Size

Ultimate height

0.5-1 metres

Ultimate spread

0.5-1 metres

Time to ultimate height

5-10 years


Preferred common name

elephant's foot

Family

Dioscoreaceae


Dioscorea can be evergreen or deciduous, twining perennials with tuberous roots and simple or palmate leaves and small bell-shaped greenish or yellow flowers in racemes from the leaf axils

D. elephantipes is a deciduous climbing perennial growing from a large, partly exposed, rugged woody tuber, with heart-shaped blue-green leaves and racemes of tiny yellow flowers

Other common names

  • Hottentot bread
  • tortoise plant

Synonym(s)

  • Testudinaria elephantipes

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun

Aspect

  • South-facing or East-facing
  • Sheltered

Cultivation

Under glass grow in gritty, very well-draining potting compost mulched with grit in full light. Water moderately when in growth and apply a balanced liquid fertiliser every two or three weeks; keep completely dry in winter. Suitable for a desert garden

Soil

  • Well-drained
  • Acid, Alkaline or Neutral
  • Loam or Sand

Propagation

Propagate by seed at 19 to 24 °C in spring or take softwood cuttings as young shoots arise from the tuber in spring

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Patio/Container Plants


How to care

Pruning

Pruning group 11 in spring

Pests

Aphids may be a problem

Diseases

Generally disease free