Are you a fan of unique succulents and cacti? Say hello to a succulent which more or less looks like a cactus, the Huernia schneideriana plant. Numerous dark-green leaf-less stems protrude from the base. Rows of thorn-like structures are found growing all over these stem-like branches. But wait! These so-called thorns are soft to touch and will not prick you at all!
Besides, the plant bears beautiful reddish flowers in the growing season, making it popularly known as the Red-Dragon Flower. Interesting, right? This ‘no-fuss beauty’ is quite easy-to-grow and ready-to-prorogate. Keep reading to know more about the care and propagation of the H. schneideriana plant.
Huernia schneideriana Classification
Species: H. schneideriana
This collection of stem succulents was first described as a genus back in the early years of the 18th century. These perennials hail from Eastern and Southern Africa and Arabia. Moreover, they were named in honour of the famous Dutch missionary botanist and doctor, Justus van Huerne.
The majority of the species grow beautiful and bold-colored followers. In addition, many of them were considered as famine food in some regions in south Ethiopia.
Huernia schneideriana plant was once considered a natural hybrid between H. verekeri and H. Aspera. However, recent researches confirm it as an individual species hailing from Tanzania.
- Red Dragon Flower.
- Red Dragon.
- Synonym: Ceropegia ‘Red Dragon Flower’.
Features of the Huernia schneideriana Plant
The branches of the succulent grow in different sizes. On average, they get about 8 to 12 inches tall on maturity.
The beautiful bright red flowers are about 1 to 3 inches in size. The reddish-black velvety inner surfaces are reddish-brown from the outer sides. Moreover, the centers of these flowers are bright reddish-purple, enhancing the beauty of the plant.
The plant coming from the milk-weed family is toxic for us and our animals. Ingestion can lead to allergies and other health issues. Moreover, the milky latex comes out when the plant is cut or torn. This if comes in contact with eyes or skin can harm them as well. So, keep the plant strictly out of the reach of kids and pets. Also, contact emergency medical help (or vets for a pet) in case of ingestion or exposure to the eyes.
Huernia schneideriana Care
These plants are one of the easiest to grow. Coming with resistance to many environmental factors, they can even stand small periods of drought. Quick Guide:
Water: Low (After the upper half of the soil gets dry)
Sun: Bright indirect sun and partial shade
Humidity: Average to low
Fertilizer: Mild concentration in spring and summer.
Let us move forward to learn the details;
A general rule of watering for the growth is to water the soil and allow the upper 2 inches to dry out before watering again. This makes an estimated watering frequency of about 2 to 3 times per week in spring and summer. This schedule changes with factors like temperature, sun, and humidity. So, you need to keep a check on the soil, especially when this plant peep is new at your place.
With the decrease in temperature, these plants commonly get dormant. So, you find your Schneideriana showing almost poor growth and needing a meagre quantity of water. Make sure you keep the plant dry and don’t water more than about once a month.
These plants are highly susceptible to root rot, especially in winter. The only thing which is notorious to kill them is over-watering. Hence, be very careful while watering and never overdo it.
In nature, the Schneideriana plants grow under large shrubs or plants. So, the bright indirect sun is what they love. However, you can keep them in partial shade also and they will survive pretty well.
These plants have a strange mechanism to combat higher levels of sun exposure. Placed in an over-lit spot for a long can cause them to develop pigmentation in the bright reddish or purplish shade. Furthermore, this too much sun can even finally scald the plant.
In the case of the inadequate sun, the succulent may get thin, weak, and limpy with poor blooms. Hence, make sure your plant is placed in the appropriate light to avoid the issues.
The ideal temperature range for all the members of the genus is between 50 to 80 °F. These peeps come with poor tolerance for cold and frost. So, make sure you don’t keep them at a temperature below 40 °F.
Huernia schneideriana is generally resistant to a range of humidity levels preferring the lower sides.
Excellent drainage is a crucial requirement while planting the Red Dragon flower. You can use a mixture of pumice or perlite, peat or mulch, and sand in the ratio 2:1:1. Moreover, commonly available succulent mixes are other good options for this plant.
Experts also recommend using underlined coarse gravel at the base of the potting mixture. This ensures good drainage helping to avoid root rot. People living in areas with cool and damp summers need to control the extra humidity. For this, they can use a layer of gravel between the plant and the soil mixture.
Shallow clay pots are ideal to grow these plants. This ensures quick drying of the growing mix combating all the common problems of the plant.
On the other hand, raised beds are nice options to grow them outdoors in your lawns and yards.
A monthly dose of a good quality suitable fertilizer in spring and summer is a good idea. The best time to start is at the beginning of the spring. Prefer using high-phosphorus and low-nitrogen fertilizers in mild concentration, preferably half of the stated dose.
Natural options include a small quantity of blood meal and bone meal mixed in potting mix. This is preferable in the early days of spring.
The dormant plant lives with the minimum resources needing no fertilizer at all. You need to strictly avoid fertilizing after the end of the summer, as it may even kill the plant.
This vigorous grower prefers compact growth. Additionally, it may not need frequent repots unless the plant body looks larger for the pot. Once a year or two is a suitable estimated frequency for repotting. If the plant doesn’t need to be in a bigger pot, you can simply change and refresh the soil.
Just select a larger pot and fill it with a suitable soil/ potting mixture. Loosen and scoop away the top layer to take out the plant along with its root system. Be careful and gentle as you don’t want to damage the roots.
The plant is hardy in USDA growing zones 10b to 11b in the temperature range 35 F to 50 F.
Problems of the Huernia schneideriana Plant
The main possible challenges you may face while growing the plant are;
- Non-draining soil.
- Inadequate or overexposure to the sun.
In the case of mealy bugs, you should repot the new plant. Moreover, spraying it with a 1:10 dilute solution of alcohol and water is helpful.
Huernia schneideriana Propagation
No doubt, these are among the easiest to propagate plants. In no time you would enhance your collection and even make new plants for gifting to your acquaintances.
Season: The growing season; spring is the ideal time to plant out some cuttings of your Red Dragon Flower plant.
- Grab a pair of sterilized/clean shears and cut a few cuttings from the stem of a healthy parent plant. About two to three inches is a nice size for these pieces.
- Place these cuttings in the indirect sun for a few days. A week or lesser is enough to form to dry the ends or form the callous.
- Simply place these cuttings on the top of the well-draining soil/potting mixture and press it slightly.
- Water the soil sparingly to give the initial moisture. Now, place the setup at some warm place with indirect sun.
- Keep the soil moist by spraying it after the upper layer gets dry. About two to three weeks or more and you will see baby stems popping out from your cuttings.
Huernia schneideriana is easy to grow succulent coming from the family Apocynaceae. This Tanzanian native plant has unique leaf-less stem branches producing out from the base. These dark-green stems have numerous soft thorn-like structures which are harmless in reality. Moreover, the plant blooms beautiful reddish flowers which gives a bright look to this succulent.
You can easily grow them in pots and containers, perfect for indoor, outdoor, and patio plantations. A well-draining soil, indirect sun, and mild watering are all they need to stay happy. Importantly, avoid overwatering, as it is the main culprit (if any) to kill your Red Dragon Flower Plant.