Some species of succulent trees belong to the genus Adansonia, including some of the largest succulents in the world. Most species, including the baobab tree, are native to southern Africa, while only Adansonia gibbosa comes from Australia. In nature they develop as large trees, 20-25 meters high, with broad and broad stem, which can reach 25-30 meters in width. They have large, dark green palmate leaves, composed of 5-7 small oval, elongated leaves; the baobabs are deciduous trees, they lose them during the winter months. In spring they produce large white, pendulous flowers with fleshy petals, followed by large oval fruits. The baobabs have a very slow development, and the specimens grown in pots generally remain below 150-200 cm in height; in fact they lose much of their charm, since it is hardly possible to appreciate the particular dimensions of the large trunk, a distinctive characteristic of these trees. From the trunk starts a wide, well branched crown; stem and branches are covered with a thick gray-brown, smooth bark.
The baobab trees are grown in a sunny place and can even withstand temperatures slightly below zero, but for very short periods, and only if in a completely dry place. During the winter months they are sheltered in a cold greenhouse, or in a temperate greenhouse.
Being native plants of warm climates it cannot be thought that at our latitudes these species give great results but with some tricks also the baobabs can be successfully cultivated, partly inside the houses or in greenhouses and partly outside.
As for watering, these plants, like many other succulents, need to be watered only during the vegetative period, from March to October, always waiting for the soil to be perfectly dry between one watering and another. During the cold months watering is avoided, leaving the soil completely dry, especially if the plant is placed in an unheated place.
Regarding the warm months, this plant does not however require particular attention with regard to irrigation since it comes from extremely arid climates with rains limited to intense occasional events.
Grow the baobab tree in loose and very well drained loam, not too rich in organic matter; you can prepare an ideal soil by mixing two parts of lapillus, a part of sand and a part of balanced soil. At the end of winter, repot the trees every year.
The multiplication of the baobab occurs by seed, in spring; the baobab seeds in general they germinate after having remained on the ground for months, or sometimes even after the fruits have been digested by the animals, it is therefore necessary to favor germination by placing the seeds in hot water for at least 24 hours before sowing. Germination can also be encouraged by using a file, with which to slightly thin the rigid cuticle that covers the seeds. The baobabs also propagate by cuttings.
Baobab: Parasites and diseases of the baobab
The parasites and diseases that most frequently attack the baobab plants are the cochineal and the root rot. Both diseases are due more to cultivation and to the type of climate to which these plants are forced than to the plant itself.
To be clear, the baobab is grown in an environment with a very different climate than the one found in its natural range. The root rot is a consequence due to an excess of water in the soil, in turn due to a quantity of irrigation far superior to the absorption of the plant and to the evaporation of the water from the ground due to solar radiation.
The same is also true for cochineal, a parasite typical of wet and heated environments such as greenhouses, in which cochineal develops and colonizes the vast majority of plants, also attacking baobab plants and proliferating on them as on other species grown indoors.