Friday, December 6, 2013

A New Bloom on Huernia Zebrina

This little cutie is Huernia zebrina (aka Lifesaver Plant).

The species comes from Southern Africa and is in the Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed) family.

The 5-pointed star flowers with a red lifesaver at the center are pretty hard to resist.

Huernia are easy to grow, but like most cactus, resent too much water. A sunny windowsill and neglectful watering are all they require.

Let them dry out completely and then only water every 3-4 weeks. Rot can be a real issue if plants are wet or cold for too long.

Be on the look out for mealybugs too! I keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a small hobby paint brush at the ready, to snuff out any mealybugs I see.

The plants are not spiny/prickly (which is a nice feature) and only grow a few inches tall. Plants climb out of the pot over time, but any cuttings or pieces that fall off (when you bump them) are easy to propagate.

Huernias can often be found anyplace that sells cactus, but many of them look alike and almost never have a name tag. Because of this, I try to buy plants in flower when I can. That way you know what you're getting.

Stepelia and Orbea are similar looking plants and are generally just as easy to grow. Give them a try if you see them. Some have stinky flowers, but that's just part of their charm!


  1. That is a sweet little thing , where do you get them from?

  2. It is lovely. I have never seen a Huernia before but it looks very similar to my Stapelia gigantea which I have had for 4 years. It has a bud on it for the first time. Has your Huernia flowered before and does it smell as awful as the flowers of stapelia?

    1. This one doesn't have much of a fragrance, it's just sort of musty smelling. It's not as fetid at Stapelia gigantea for sure. The flower will last much longer too (about 2 weeks).

  3. I think it came from the Division St. Portland Nursery - they usually have some sort of Stapelia/Orbea/Huernia depending on when you go.

  4. When you say "Snuff out" mealybugs, what are you implying? you apply alcohol on plant itself? only areas of Mealybugs?

    1. I "paint" the mealybugs with the brush dipped in rubbing alcohol. Anywhere there is a fluffy white mealybug floof. You can also use a firmer little paint brush to brush them off completely (be sure to kill) or to squish them directly with the brush. Alcohol will not hurt the plant in these small doses. This is all provided there are just a few mealybugs on the above soil part of the plant. If you have a really bad infestation, you have to remove all the soil and treat the root areas too. Then repot in new medium and clean pot.