Glottiphyllum linguiforme, commonly known as Tongue Leaf Plant, is a succulent plant that originates from South Africa. It typically grows between 6 and 12 cm tall, with a bed of fleshy leaves that emerge from a barely visible stem. The leaves are grey-green with red margins and strongly resemble tongues. These oval leaves are the primary reason this plant is popular among gardeners.
Tongue Leaf Plant was given its name because of the shape of its leaves, which are oval and tongue-like. In fact, linguiforme means “tongue-shaped,” referring to this exact phenomenon. The plant can grow up to 1 inch tall when it flowers between December and February with small bright yellow daisy-like flowers.
Glottiphyllum linguiforme Main Characteristics
|Common Name||Tongue Leaf Plant|
|Botanical Name||Glottiphyllum linguiforme|
|Native Range||South Africa (Cape Province)|
|Mature Size||Height: 6 cm, Spread: 30 cm|
|Propagation methods||by seeds, by cuttings|
Glottiphyllum linguiforme Care
Glottiphyllum linguiforme is a drought-tolerant plant that prefers full sun to partial shade. It is an easy plant to care for and is ideal for those who are new to growing succulents. This plant is also resistant to pests and diseases. However, be careful when moving the plant as the leaves are delicate and easily damaged. The growth phase begins in late winter.
Light and Location
Glottiphyllum linguiforme enjoy full sun to partial shade. If you live in an area with hot summers, it is best to provide some afternoon shade to protect the plant from heat stress. It can be grown indoors near a bright window. Without enough sunlight throughout the year, this succulent won’t flower.
Water sparingly. These plants experience unsightly growth if given too much water. And overwatering is ever a concern. Water lightly but regularly from late summer through winter; this is their growing phase. In spring and summer, reduce watering cadence even more and give just enough water to keep the compost barely moist.
Glottiphyllum linguiforme are not particularly cold-hardy and will not tolerate frost. These succulents prefer warm temperatures and need protection from extreme colds. A greenhouse or protected garden works best. They will do just as well in average room temperatures in temperate climates.
Tongue Leaf Plants prefer dry air and do not require high humidity. In fact, they are more likely to experience problems if the air is too humid. Maintain average room conditions around the pot, and you should be fine.
There is no need for fertilizer with this succulent. It is easy to grow and doesn’t need any feed to experience growth. But if you can feed it with a low-nitrogen fertilizer during the growth phase in late winter, there will be some benefits. However, remember to dilute the fertilizer beforehand. Do not fertilize during the summer as this is its dormant phase, and the plant doesn’t want to grow.
Tongue Leaf Plants are easy to propagate from stem cuttings or by seeds.
If you’re propagating by stem cuttings, take a cutting in late summer when the intensity of the sunlight begins to mellow out. Cutting taken in the height of summer tend to not take. Cut a 3-inch section of stem with a sharp knife and remove the bottom leaves. Allow the cutting to dry for a few days so that the wound can callus over. Once it has callused, plant the cutting in well-draining succulent soil. Water lightly and wait for new growth to appear.
To propagate by seed:
- Sow the seeds in spring on the surface of well-draining succulent soil.
- Do not cover the seeds with a thick layer as they need light to germinate and suffocate under too much soil.
- Spray a light water mist and keep the soil moist until germination occurs.
- Keep the starter pot moist and humid.
- Once seedlings appear, water less frequently and wait for the plants to grow big enough to transplant.
Note: If you want a true-to-species specimen after propagating, use stem cuttings. Seeds tend to hybridize and rarely produce plants identical to the parent.
Potting and Repotting
Depending on how you plan to treat your plant, both shallow and deep pots can sustain their growth. You can either give them plenty of water and deep pots to ensure maximum growth. Or you can give them shallow pots, firm soil, and little water. The great thing about them is that they grow just fine from either approach, but the end result might look different. Just pick the one you’re comfortable executing and stick to it.
Glottiphyllum linguiforme are not heavy feeders and do just fine in a standard potting mix for cacti and succulents. A well-draining succulent or cactus mix is best as they do not like soggy soil.
It’s best to repot every 2-3 years in the springtime. You can tell it’s time to repot when the plant becomes rootbound and starts to outgrow its pot. Be mindful when handling, as the leaves are delicate and can easily be damaged. Gently lift up the plant from its pot to tease out the roots—plant in a slightly bigger pot with a well-draining succulent mix. Keep the soil moist and wait for the plant to adjust to its new home. Do not fertilize for six weeks after repotting.
Tongue Leaf Plants are not toxic to humans or animals. They are safe to have around kids and pets.
Common Pests and Diseases
Glottiphyllum linguiforme plants are not susceptible to many pests and diseases. However, they can be attacked by mealybugs on occasion. These pests are usually attracted to stressed or sick plants. Therefore, the best way to avoid an infestation is to keep your plant healthy. But if an infestation does occur, horticultural oils are your best bet.
One of the most common problems with Tongue Leaf Plants is rot. This usually occurs when the plant is overwatered or sitting in waterlogged soil. The best way to avoid this is to make sure the potting mix is well-draining and to only water minimally. If the plant starts to show signs of stress, stop watering and let the plant dry out. If that doesn’t work, repot the plant in fresh, dry potting mix after removing the affected roots.