There’s no mistaking Huernia schneideriana. With its iconic red flowers and thorny cactus body, it can be an eye-catching addition to any room.
Best of all, it’s a top choice for beginners. Here’s everything you need to know about the plant.
What Is Huernia Schneideriana?
Huernia schneideriana, also known as the Red Dragon Flower, is a succulent native to Tanzania. It belongs to the Huernia genus, named after Dutch missionary and botanist Justus van Heurne.
In the houseplant trade, Huernia plants sometimes appear under the name “Lifesaver cactus” since the inner part of the flower resembles a red Lifesaver candy.
As an indoor plant, Huernia schneideriana will grow to be about 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) tall. The stems are bright, vivid green, covered in short thorns. Usually, the stems have an upright growth habit, but it’s not uncommon for them to start drooping as the plant gets older. As a result, you can grow this Huernia in containers as well as hanging baskets.
Throughout spring and summer, Huernia schneideriana will produce bright red succulent flowers, typically between 1 and 3 inches in size (2.5 to 7.5 cm). The flowers are thick and star-shaped, with a round central section that’s dark red in color. Unlike other succulents, Huernia will grow flowers at the bottom of the stems rather than the top.
– Is Huernia Schneideriana Toxic?
Huernia schneideriana is not listed on the ASPCA list of plants that are toxic to cats and dogs. However, it’s best to note that the stems produce a white latex when cut, which is poisonous if eaten and can also cause skin and eye irritations. Keep this plant out of reach of pets and children to prevent any accidents.
Huernia Schneideriana Care Guide
Huernia schneideriana is a plant that’s easy to care for, which makes it perfect for beginners. Here’s what you need to know.
– Light Requirements
Huernia schneideriana can grow in either bright indirect light or partial shade. In its native habitat, it grows underneath other plants, so it’s used to receiving filtered light. Place this plant in a room with western or eastern exposure, and make sure it receives at least six hours of light per day. Use a sheer curtain if you want to keep it on a windowsill.
Although Huernia schneideriana is a type of succulent, it does not tolerate direct sun. If exposed to intense sunlight, the stems will become scorched and discolored, developing reddish spots and turning purple. On the other hand, too much shade will cause the stems to become leggy, yellow, and limp.
– Temperature Requirements
Huernia schneideriana can tolerate a wide temperature range and will comfortably grow anywhere between 50 F and 80 F (10 C to 27 C). However, avoid exposing it to temperatures below 40 F (4 C) for extended periods as this can damage the plant.
You can grow Huernia schneideriana outdoors if you live in USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b. Keep it in a container or plant it in a part of your garden where it’s not exposed to direct sun, especially in the afternoon. Huernia is not frost-tolerant, so if temperatures drop below 40 F (4 C) during the night, make sure to bring the pot indoors.
– Water Requirements
The thick stems of Huernia schneideriana retain moisture. As such, this plant has fairly low water requirements. Allow the top two inches (five centimeters) of the soil to dry out completely between waterings. You can use your finger to test the soil, then water it evenly so that the water can reach all the roots. This plant has a shallow but dense root system and is susceptible to root rot if it’s overwatered.
During the hotter months, you will need to water Huernia schneideriana once every 10 to 14 days, depending on the ambient temperature. In winter, the plant needs very little water.
Allow three-fourths of the soil to dry out before watering the plant. Depending on the temperature in your home, you can water it as rarely as once a month during the colder months.
– Humidity Requirements
Huernia schneideriana is not too pretentious when it comes to humidity. The fleshy stems and spikes retain moisture from the air and soil, allowing it to thrive in low humidity conditions.
– Soil Requirements
Huernia schneideriana needs very well-draining soils for healthy growth. Although you can use just succulent potting mix for this plant, it may not provide sufficient drainage. As a result, it’s best to add other amendments.
Here’s what you can use if you want to make your own potting mixture for Huernia schneideriana:
- 2 parts perlite or pumice
- 1 part universal potting mix
- 1 part coarse sand
If you want to grow Huernia schneideriana outdoors and plant it directly in the garden soil, you will need to provide it with excellent drainage. You can make a mix of garden soil, coarse sand, gravel, and insoluble grit to achieve this.
You can also add a bit of organic mulch, which will prevent the soil from drying out too fast, and give the plant a nutrient boost.
– Fertilizer Requirements
Huernia schneideriana will benefit from a monthly fertilizer application throughout spring and summer. Given that this is a flowering plant, use a fertilizer rich in phosphorus and low in nitrogen to stimulate blooms. Avoid burning the roots by diluting the fertilizer to half the strength.
If you prefer using organic fertilizers for your Huernia schneideriana, you can use bone meal, blood meal, or worm castings. Mix a small amount into the soil, preferably in the spring. Organic fertilizers have a slow release rate, so if you’re using them for your succulents, apply them once and avoid feeding again for the remainder of the year.
In winter, Huernia schneideriana will not need any fertilizer applications. The plant’s growth slows down during the colder months, and additional nutrients will stress it, causing leggy growth.
– Repotting Huernia Schneideriana
Huernia schneideriana has a fast growth rate, yet it prefers compact growing conditions. Depending on the age of the plant, you may need to repot it once every 1 or 2 years. The best time to do this is in spring, as the plant enters its growing season.
When repotting Huernia schneideriana, you must pick the right pot. Ceramic is the best container material for this plant, as it wicks the moisture from the soil, preventing it from staying wet for too long. Also, pick a container that’s shallow rather than deep.
Huernia has shallow roots and low water requirements, and a wide, shallow container will allow them to spread out without retaining too much water in the soil.
Huernia Schneideriana Propagation Guide
– Propagating Huernia Schneideriana Through Stem Cuttings
- Use a sharp blade that has been sterilized in a water and bleach solution.
- Pick a healthy stem that’s at least 4 inches (10 cm) long.
- Cut the stem at a 45° angle.
- Place the cutting in a well-ventilated room, away from direct sunlight, and wait until the bottom of the stem has hardened or developed a callus.
- Pot the cutting in a well-draining potting mix, and give it a light watering.
- Avoid watering the plant too often, as this can cause the bottom of the cutting to rot before it develops any roots.
- Monitor the new plant for the next two to three weeks to make sure that it has become established.
– Propagating Huernia Schneideriana Through Plant Division
Mature Huernia plants will produce new growth, also known as “pups.” These are easy to divide from the mother plant and repotted separately. You can use this propagation method in spring or summer to give the “pups” a better chance at becoming established.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Gently lift the plant from the pot and remove as much of the soil as you can, to expose the roots;
- Find the place where the ‘pup’ is attached to the mother plant;
- Using your fingers, separate the roots of the ‘pup’ and the mother plant. Huernia has a dense root system, so try to handle them gently to avoid tearing them;
- Plant the ‘pup’ in a well-draining potting mix, water lightly, and keep in bright indirect light;
- The new plant should take a couple of weeks to become established, so monitor it to make sure that it doesn’t suffer from transplant shock.
Common Pests and Problems
– Soft, Yellowing Stems
If the stems on your Huernia schneideriana are turning yellow or if they feel soft and mushy to the touch, this is a classic symptom of overwatering. All succulents are deathly sensitive to too much water, which can permanently damage the stem tissue and the roots.
You can save an overwatered succulent if you take action immediately. Remove the plant from the pot, and get rid of as much soil from the roots as you can. Repot the plant in a well-draining potting mix, and carefully check the soil with your finger before each watering.
– Root Rot
Root rot is a common problem for succulents, and it’s caused by overwatering and poor drainage. If you notice that the stems on your Huernia schneideriana are turning pale and have a soft texture, remove the plant from the pot and check the roots. Healthy roots should be white and firm to the touch. If they are brown, black, or mushy and have an unpleasant smell, your plant has root rot.
To save your succulent from root rot, remove as much of the old soil from the roots as you can. Use a sterilized blade to cut any sections of the root that are rotted. Dunk the roots in a diluted anti-fungal solution, then take them out and allow them to dry completely. Pot the plant in a well-draining potting mix.
Root rot can take some time to be detected. In some cases, you may not be able to save the roots. If you notice that the entire root ball has turned soft and black, there’s still a chance that you can save the plant by propagating it. Check if any stems are green and firm to the touch, then cut them from the plant and propagate them in individual pots.
– Huernia Schneideriana Not Flowering
If your Huernia schneideriana is not blooming, this is usually a sign that the plant is growing in the wrong conditions. Too much water and too little light will stress the plant, and it will spend its energy-producing thin, leggy stems instead of flowers.
Move your plant to a part of the house where it receives bright indirect light, and keep the soil lightly watered. You can also encourage flowering in your Huernia by feeding it a phosphorus-rich fertilizer once a month, throughout spring and summer.
Huernia schneideriana is tolerant of most pests and diseases. However, it can suffer from mealybug infestations. These insects are a common problem for houseplants and will suck the sap from the stem, causing wilting and discoloration.
To remove them, use a cotton swab dipped in a neem oil solution and rub the infested areas. Repeat the treatment once a week until all signs of mealybugs are gone.
Huernia schneideriana, also known as the scarlet dragon succulent, can be a stunning addition to any home. Just remember the basics, and the plant you’re growing will thrive!
- Easy to care for, it needs well-draining soil, little watering, and bright indirect light.
- It has very few pests and diseases but is sensitive to root rot and overwatering.
- Huernia schneideriana stems produce a white latex-like substance that is toxic if eaten, so keep it away from kids and pets.
Now that you know how it’s done, it’s time to grab your very own Huernia schneideriana and start planting!
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