Anacampseros rufescens is a stunning succulent that can bring a touch of sunshine to any room. Famed for its gorgeously vivid colors, this low-maintenance plant is great for beginners.
In this guide, our expert gardeners discuss the ideal growing conditions.
What Is Anacampseros Rufescens?
Anacampseros rufescens is a flowering succulent native to the South Africa Cape Province. Also known as the Sand Rose or Sunrise Succulent, it takes its name from its thick, fleshy leaves, displayed in a rosette, and turns a vivid shade of pink as they mature.
It also produces very showy flowers, which are pink, star-shaped, and about two inches (five centimeters) in size.
This plant belongs to the Anacampseros genus, a group of over 100 perennial succulents. The name of this genus has ancient roots, and it was used for plants and herbs which were supposed to restore lost love.
When cultivated, Anacampseros rufescens typically grows up to 6 inches (15 cm) tall and 24 inches (61 cm) wide. It will start as a single stem, then send out offsets as the plant matures. You can grow it in containers as an indoor plant and even plant it outside as a uniquely decorative succulent shrub.
Is Anacampseros Rufescens Toxic?
The Sunrise succulent is not featured on ASPCA’s list of plants toxic to cats and dogs. However, this plant’s toxicity is not yet clear. To be on the safe side, we recommend keeping it away from pets as well as children.
Anacampseros Rufescens Care Requirements
Anacampseros Rufescens is a fairly low-maintenance succulent, although it’s essential to understand the basics.
– Light Requirements
Anacampseros rufescens can tolerate partial shade, yet it is more likely to showcase the colorful foliage it’s famous for when placed in bright, indirect light. A minimum of 4 hours in such conditions will ensure your Sand Rose succulent displays its iconic sunrise colors. However, take care not to overdo it.
Like most succulents, Anacampseros Rufescens will not tolerate too much direct sunlight. This can lead to scorched leaves, which will soon become discolored. The plant can handle some full sun, but it needs to get used to it slowly. Gradually build up to a maximum of 4 hours of full morning sunlight for a fabulous display, but avoid the intense midday sun.
When growing Anacampseros Rufescens indoors, an eastern exposure is perfect. Though south- and west-facing rooms are also suitable. Outdoors, aim for a spot that enjoys a good amount of sunshine in the morning but becomes shady in the afternoon. If your Anacampseros Rufescens becomes leggy and its leaves become discolored, it’s a sure sign that it’s not getting enough light.
– Temperature Requirements
The Sunrise succulent thrives in warm conditions and enjoys temperatures between 70 F to 80 F (21 C to 26 C). If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11, you can grow Anacampseros Rufescens outside as well. In fact, they look great in rock gardens and even work well as ground cover for a small area.
Anacampseros rufescens can tolerate a little frost, but it shouldn’t be exposed to temperatures below 30 F (-2 C) for extended periods. In colder climates, it’s best to grow your sand roses in containers. This way, you can move them indoors during those frosty nights.
– Water Requirements
Like other succulents, the fleshy leaves of Anacampseros rufescens are excellent at retaining water. As such, the plant is extremely tolerant of drought – great news for those forgetful gardeners out there!
Rather than sticking to a strict water schedule, allow the soil to dry between waterings and use your fingers to test the top two inches (five centimeters). If it’s still moist, hold back until it dries out.
Throughout the year, the frequency with which you water your Sunrise succulent will probably change depending on the season and temperature. During summer, you may need to water it as often as once every two weeks. Meanwhile, over the winter months, watering it as little as once a month will probably suffice.
Take care not to overwater your Anacampseros rufescens. This succulent hates having wet feet and is extremely susceptible to root rot. Additionally, be sure to only water the soil, not the leaves and stems. If the crown stays wet for too long, it will also begin to rot.
– Humidity Requirements
In its natural habitat, Anacampseros rufescens grows in rather arid conditions. The leaves and stems retain moisture from the air and soil, making sand roses an ideal choice for low humidity environments. Most homes have humidity levels below 50 percent, which will work just fine for this plant.
– Soil Requirements
Anacampseros rufescens is very susceptible to root rot, so it’s important to plant it in a well-draining, aerated soil mix. For best results, we recommend making your special blend. A mix of two parts cactus soil and one part perlite will provide adequate drainage in most cases. However, you might consider using half and half if humidity levels are high.
Another good combination is equal parts cactus soil, perlite, and coarse sand. Each of these mixes proved the drainage that Anacampseros Rufescens needs to avoid problems with overwatering. If you want to make your own cactus soil mix, combine equal parts potting mix, coarse sand, and perlite or pumice. Avoid using a potting mix that has been enriched with fertilizers, as this can burn your succulent roots.
If you’re planning to grow your sand roses outside, excellent drainage is even more important. We suggest mixing coarse sand, gravel, and insoluble grit into your garden soil.
Ensure the soil is well aerated, and add a little organic mulch to give your Anacampseros Rufescens a boost of nutrients while preventing the soil from drying out too fast.
– Fertilizer Requirements
Anacampseros Rufescens is a light feeder, and for the most part, you don’t need to worry about fertilizing it too often. If the plant has been repotted recently, there’s no real need for more fertilizer that year. However, if your Sunrise succulent has been in the same soil for a while, a small boost of nutrients will be more than welcome.
Only apply fertilizer throughout the growing season, in spring and summer. For best results, dilute a succulent fertilizer to half its strength and apply it once a month when the soil is damp. As winter approaches, you can stop applying fertilizer altogether. Feeding your sand roses in winter may lead to leggy growth.
– Repotting Anacampseros Rufescens
While Anacampseros rufescens’ growth rate is rather fast, you won’t need to repot it very often. In fact, mature specimens will generally only need repotting once every two to three years. The best way to check if your Sunrise succulent needs repotting is to take a look at the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. If any roots are poking out, it’s time for a new home.
Be sure to choose the right pot for your Anacampseros Rufescens. Ceramic and terracotta are the best choices, as they wick moisture and prevent the soil from staying too wet. Additionally, the porous material allows more air to reach the roots. Choose a wide and shallow container that’s one size larger or two inches wider than the previous one.
For best results, repot your Anacampseros Rufescens in spring as it enters the growing season. Like all succulents, this plant has very shallow, delicate roots. Gently remove the plant from the soil, and take care not to tear any of the roots. To minimize transplant shock, avoid removing too much of the old soil from the roots when repotting it.
Anacampseros Rufescens Propagation Guide
Let’s take a look at each method.
– Propagating Anacampseros Rufescens Through Leaf Cuttings
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade to cut a few leaves from the bottom of the plant. Make sure that the leaves are healthy, without any soft, yellowing, or translucent sections.
- Place the leaves on a paper towel, and wait for a few days until the cut end develops a callus.
- Fill a seed propagation tray or a wide, shallow container with a mix of perlite and succulent soil.
- Once the leaf cuttings have become callused, lay them down on the soil. Keep the callused end above the soil rather than sticking it in the potting mix.
- Use a spray bottle, gently mist the soil, and then keep the tray in a well-ventilated room with bright indirect light.
- Lightly mist the soil every day. The best time to do this is in the morning, to give the soil enough time to dry out during the day and prevent any mold from growing.
- After a few weeks, you will notice small roots growing out of the bottom of the leaf.
- After another two to three weeks, your cuttings will also start growing small clusters of leaves above the roots. These are essentially the new plants.
- Wait until the young plants are at least ½ inch tall, then you can plant them in their own separate pots.
– Propagating Anacampseros Rufescens Through Offsets
- This is the easiest method to propagate your Sunrise succulent. We recommend doing it simultaneously as repotting the plant to avoid damaging or disturbing the roots too much. Here’s what you need to do.
- Gently remove the succulent from the pot, and look for any offsets. They should look like smaller versions of the mother plant, attached to it through a stem.
- Use a sharp, sterilized blade to cut the stem connecting the offset to the mother plant.
If the offset doesn’t have any roots yet, place it on a paper towel for a few days until the bottom has developed a callus. Then place it on top of a container filled with a mix of perlite and succulent soil and water lightly. The roots should start developing in a few weeks.
- If the offset has roots, your job is made much easier. Simply plant it in a soil mix suitable for succulents, and give it a light watering. And with that, you’re pretty much done.
– Can You Propagate Sunrise Succulent From Seeds?
Yes! Anacampseros rufescens is self-pollinating, which means that the plant will produce a seed pod after the flower has wilted. The seeds are small, white, and look a bit like sesame seeds.
Let’s take a look at what you’ll need.
- Wait until the pod has dried, then collect the Anacampseros rufescens seeds.
- Fill a seed propagation tray with a mix of cactus soil, perlite, and coarse sand. Use a tray that has separated plug cells – this will make removing the young plants much easier, without damaging the roots.
- Place one seed in each plug.
- Don’t cover the seeds with the soil mix.
- Use a spray bottle to dampen the substrate lightly.
- Cover the tray with a transparent plastic foil, and keep it in bright, indirect light. The optimal temperature for germination is around 72 F (22 C).
- The seeds should germinate in five to seven days.
- Keep the tray covered for another three months, and make sure that the soil never goes dry.
- After three months, the baby succulents can be removed from the seed tray and planted separately.
Common Pests and Problems
– Leggy Growth
Tender succulents that are grown indoors sometimes develop long stems with sparse leaves. This process is called etiolation, and it is caused by insufficient light.
If your Anacampseros rufescens is starting to grow a bit leggy, move it to a brighter spot but away from direct sunlight. Also, remember to rotate the plant regularly so that the leafy rosette develops evenly and the stem doesn’t bend towards the light.
– Leaves Turning Pale Green
This is another example of sun stress. Your Anacampseros rufescens leaves will become discolored if the plant receives less than four hours of sunlight per day. The more light this plant gets, the more it will grow a lush combo of dark green and vivid pink leaves.
Mushy, Translucent Leaves
If the leaves on your Anacampseros rufescens feel soft and mushy to the touch, and if they have an unhealthy, translucent look, that’s a sign of overwatering. You can also tell if your plant is overwatered if it suddenly starts dropping a lot of leaves. Remove the plant from the pot, get rid of as much of the soaked soil as you can, and repot it in fresh, well-draining potting mix.
– Root Rot
Root rot is fatal to succulents. You can prevent it by using a well-draining potting mix and not watering it too much in winter. But even if root rot has set in, you may still be able to save your dying Anacampseros rufescens.
Start by taking the plant out of the pot and inspecting the roots. Use a sharp blade to remove any black and mushy roots, and sterilize the blade after each cut. Next, repot the plant in a well-draining succulent soil mix. Do not use any of the potting mix to avoid contaminating the new soil with pathogens.
If the entire root ball of your Anacampseros rufescens is rotten, saving it may be a bit tricky. To see if there’s any hope, check the base of the stem. If it still feels hard to the touch, use a sterilized blade to separate it from the roots. Leave it to develop a callus for a few days and then propagate it.
Anacampseros rufescens has a high tolerance to most pests and diseases. However, like all houseplants, it can be susceptible to mealybugs. Signs of mealybug infestations typically include discolored leaves, stunted growth, and wilting. Use a cotton swab dipped in a neem oil solution and rub it on the damaged areas. Repeat the treatment once every five to seven days until all signs of infestation are gone.
Anacampseros rufescens makes a superb addition to any home or outdoor garden.
Growing your own can be relatively easy as long as you remember the basics:
- Anacampseros rufescens is a tender flowering succulent native to South Africa.
- Plant your Anacampseros rufescens in a well-draining potting mix, and water it when the top two inches feel dry to the touch.
- To keep the unique colors on the foliage, make sure that it receives at least four hours of bright indirect light each day.
- It can be propagated through stem cuttings, offset division, as well as seeds.
- This succulent is very sensitive to overwatering, which can result in root rot.
- Although its toxicity is not yet confirmed, we recommend keeping Anacampseros rufescens away from pets and kids.
So, if you’re looking to enjoy gorgeous sunrises throughout the day, why not give the Sunrise succulent a try?
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