The Subterranean Succulent ‘Conophytum Maughanii’

Conophytum Maughanii Image

The succulent family is large and varied, with every type having its special traits, how it grows, and charm. A particularly notable type is the Conophytum Maughanii. This succulent is found in the dry parts of South Africa. It is known for how it grows, mostly below the ground, and its ability to survive in tough places. Despite not being showy, this plant has an amazing story of resilience and beauty. Researching about this plant is exciting to me. Today, I have a great chance to share it with you!

The Origin & Physical Appearance

Conophytum Maughanii is a member of the Aizoaceae family, a group of plants known for their hardiness and resilience in the face of adversity. Its native habitat, the rocky landscapes of the Northern Cape province of South Africa, is characterized by extreme temperatures, intense sunlight, and infrequent rainfall. Despite these challenging conditions, Conophytum Maughanii has adapted ingeniously.

The plant has an underground growth habit, whereby the body of the plant grows beneath the soil’s surface while only the top parts of its leaves are visible above the ground (see *1). This unique adaptation protects from harsh weather and helps reduce evaporation, conserving water.

conophytum maughanii plant physical parts

More than just a survival strategy, this subterranean growth habit also imparts a peculiar beauty to the plant. The small, rounded leaves peeking through the soil surface often resemble shiny pebbles, adding a unique visual element to any garden or indoor plant collection.

Beauty in Blooms

The charm of the Conophytum Maughanii plant comes out when it starts flowering. In the fall, it makes lovely flowers that look a bit like daisies, usually white or slightly pink in color (see *2). What’s cool is that these flowers open up only at night, showing off their gentle beauty and giving off a light smell.

If you look closely, you’ll see the shiny leaves of the plant that look a bit like small stones. When the soft flowers are next to these shiny leaves, they look nice and show nature’s quiet but strong beauty. It’s a treat for people who take their time and enjoy caring for their plants, letting them see a stunning natural show right in their own garden.

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A Short Caring Guide For Conophytum Maughanii (If You Have It)

Conophytum maughanii isn’t as common at home as other succulents like aloe or jade plants. But people who like succulents collecting different kinds might have it in their collection. I guess you may be one of them? 😉 Caring for Conophytum Maughanii is an exercise in understanding and mimicking its natural environment. The plant prefers a well-draining soil mix, like a blend of cactus mix and perlite or pumice, that simulates the rocky soils of its native habitat. This indicates that Conophytum maughanii can be planted on the rocky area. A pot with good drainage is essential to prevent water stagnation and consequent root rot.

Watering Conophytum Maughanii requires a careful understanding of its natural water cycle. During the cool and moist winter months, when the plant is actively growing, the soil should be parched. However, watering should be reduced considerably or even stopped when the plant is dormant in the hot and dry summer. This is because the plant is adapted to survive in drought conditions, and overwatering can potentially harm it more than underwatering.

You can propagate this plant using seeds or cuttings. The seeds will germinate and form a baby plant in 1.5-2 months. If you use the cutting method, the part is usually callous in 1-2 weeks.

When it comes to light, Conophytum Maughanii prefers bright, indirect light and can handle a few hours of direct sunlight. However, prolonged exposure to intense sunlight can cause leaf scorching. It thrives in temperatures between 50°F (10°C) and 80°F (27°C), making it suitable for indoor cultivation in most regions.

Commonly asked questions about Conophytum maughanii

As a routine, I browse Reddit for interesting shares about any plant I just wrote. I am surprised at the numerous questions up there. They introduce some useful insights that I want to share with readers who come across this post:

A thread from u/mojavekenzie: “Conophytum Maughanii is getting really soft despite me watering it every other day. Roots look white and good but they don’t seem to respond to water.”

Answer: When your succulents seem soft/ translucent/ smushy, it’s the overwatering issue. As I see in the picture, it is. Also, you said you “watering it every other day” as they don’t seem to respond to water. The soil looks a bit soggy in the image. The best practice here is to remove the plant immediately from the waterlogged soil and let the plant (including the roots) dry completely in a few days. Once it’s arid, try to re-pot the plant. I hope this will help keep this plant survive. This is how you deal with overwatered succulents.

A thread from u/Vudette: “Is it typical for Conophytum Maughanii to start splitting new leaves before blooming? I’m a newbie to mesembs.”

Answer: Yes, it’s totally normal for Conophytum maughanii to crack open before it blooms. This can either lead to new leaves or flowers coming out. If the plant doesn’t split, there will be no chance for a flower to bloom.

The dried layer around it is old and will start to peel off soon; don’t worry! This is a good sign. You are going to see some fresh leaves soon and probably a beautiful white flower. Keep on planting!


Conophytum Maughanii is a special kind of succulent plant. It shows how nature can change and do well in very tough places. Its special way of growing underground, simple beauty, and interesting changes to fit its surroundings make it a great plant. Though it’s not a common plant seen in many households, many succulent lovers will be intrigued to see them.

For more Conophytum plants, see a few suggestions below:

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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Posted in Succulents