Fairy elephant’s feet | Frithia pulchra care & info

Frithia pulchra succulents aren’t commonly known as ‘fairy elephant’s feet’ for nothing: their green leaves with transparent tips do look like tiny elephant feet. Like baby toes succulents, Frithia pulchra is a window succulent that has adapted perfectly to the harsh grasslands it naturally grows in.

It’s not the easiest succulent to grow, but keep its care requirements in mind and you shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping it alive.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about growing Frithia pulchra (fairy elephant’s feet)!

Name(s) (common, scientific) Fairy elephant’s feet, window plant, Frithia pulchra
Difficulty level Hard
Recommended lighting Full sun
Water During summer
Soil type Very coarse

Frithia pulchra care

As with other houseplants, the best way to figure out how to care for Frithia pulchra is to have a look at how it naturally grows. This succulent is found in a very limited area in South Africa. Here, it inhabits rocky grasslands that can get rather toasty during summer and cool and dry during winter.

To survive in this harsh climate, Frithia pulchra has evolved to be partly underground for most of the time. The translucent leaf tips are sometimes the only part sticking out. They allow light to reach deep into the sections of the leaf that don’t receive any direct sun.

Flowering Frithia pulchra - growing fairy elephant's feet succulent

Frithia pulchra light, location & temperature

Light

This succulent’s natural habitat is quite sunny. In your home, it can probably take any light you offer it.

Even direct sun should be no problem, although you might have to place the plant a little deeper in the substrate to avoid it getting scorched.

It’s worth noting that dry air is preferable during wintertime, so you might want to avoid placing your Frithia pulchra in humid spots in the home, like the bathroom.

Temperature

As to be expected from such a hardy little succulent, Frithia pulchra can take a very wide range of temperatures. In fact, if it’s buried in the substrate so only its leaf tips stick out, it should probably be able to survive even the hottest summers.

Cool winters aren’t much of an issue either. Even light frost won’t cause problems, as long as you take care to keep the soil completely dry.

Frithia pulchra (fairy elephant's feet) succulent in terracotta planter

Planting Frithia pulchra

As with its other care guidelines, all you need to do to figure out how to plant Frithia pulchra is look at how it naturally grows.

In its natural habitat, this succulent can be found in rocky areas, clinging to cracks between rocks or rooting in the small amounts of loose material that might be present. This means this plant is not adapted to growing in dense, moisture-retaining soil types.

Instead, you should choose something that’s very coarse and well-draining. In fact, a mixture that contains no potting soil at all but consists of nothing but grit probably works best. This mixture is a good example!

When it comes to choosing a planter, again, look for something very well-draining. A terracotta pot is a good option, as it allows excess water to flow out and evaporate through its walls. A large planter is not needed because this succulent stays pretty small.

Frithia pulchra (fairy elephant's feet) succulent in terracotta planter

Watering Frithia pulchra

Frithia pulchra is a summer grower. In its natural growth area it receives plenty of water during the hot months, while it stays quite dry during winter. Try to mimic this in your home by watering generously every week or so during summer. After watering, make sure all the moisture drains quickly. Don’t water again until the soil has gone completely dry.

During wintertime it’s best to stop watering completely, as rot might set in if you keep this succulent too wet during the cold months. Don’t worry: it’s adapted to the drought! Do keep in mind that it has to be able to feel the cold or it might not go into dormancy succesfully.

Propagating Frithia pulchra

This small succulent is a clustering plant, which means it’s pretty easy to multiply it. In order to propagate your Frithia pulchra, all you have to do is divide the mother plant up into separate clumps.

Propagating this species is best done when you’re already repotting and have it out of the soil. Divide it into as many new plants as you’d like, each one with at least some roots. As long as each one has a leaf or two (the more leaves, the better the chances of survival), you should be all set.

Pot up each new plant into the same pot and soil type described earlier. You can keep watering as usual, as your new Frithias already have a small root system. That’s the nice thing about propagating through division!

Frithia pulchra, a succulent houseplant also known as fairy elephant's feet.

Buying Frithia pulchra

If you’re looking to buy one of these adorable succulents, you’re probably best off heading to the nearest nursery. After all, this is not a common variety in most areas.

Regular garden centers and plant stores might get a few in now and then, but there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find it there.

Is Frithia pulchra toxic to cats and dogs?

Although all plants will cause an upset tummy in pets, based on the sources I’ve found, this one seems non-toxic.

It should be safe for cats, dogs and humans. Yay!


If you have any more questions about Frithia pulchra or if you want to share your own experiences with this unusual window succulent, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

5 thoughts on “Fairy elephant’s feet | Frithia pulchra care & info”

    • Gosh, I’ve never paid attention to that to be honest. I’ll peek at mine next time it blooms. Some flowers do close at night while others don’t, and I’ll have to admit I don’t know which category this one falls into. Sorry!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.