Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa: Care and Propagation Guide
Belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa is native to Kenya, Uganda, Somalia and Ethiopia and grows in semi-arid bushland or deciduous woodland on sandy soils.
About Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa
A very unusual-looking plant, the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa is a perennial, deciduous plant that grows up to a height of one meter. The rootstock of the plant develops into a large caudex that is conical in shape and can grow up to a diameter of 60 cm.
The woody stem of the plant is covered with bark, appears lumpy and looks like a mountain-shaped candle with wax melting down or like a volcano with lava running down.
During the spring and summer months, a vine begins to grow from the caudex with longish leaves until the flowering cycle begins. The plant produces yellow-colored flowers.
The plant also bears inedible orangish-red-colored fruits, which are quite showy.
And, if you want to know how to grow and care for the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa, read on…
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How to Care for Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa
The Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant likes plenty of sun and grows well when kept in a sunny location. But you must take care not to place the plant in direct, strong sunlight in summer as it can get burned.
During the summer months, place the plant in the shade, where it receives partial sun.
Just like other cucuurbits, the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant loves plenty of water during the summer season, when the weather is hot or warm. The plant must be watered regularly, especially when it starts producing leaves in the spring and summer.
When watering the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant, make sure that the soil is wet all through. Often, many types of soil mixes leave the surface wet while the rest of the soil is actually dry. This is because the water runs down outside the root ball.
So, after watering the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa, put your finger into the soil after 15 minutes to check if the soil is wet. Stop watering the plant when it goes into dormancy i.e., when the leaves start to turn yellow and fall.
During the winter months, the plant must be kept dry. Avoid watering the plant in winter as this can cause the caudex to rot if the soil is wet at low temperatures.
The root of the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant is quite succulent and it needs porous, well-draining soil.
It is best to use a succulent mix that is slightly acidic or you can add extra pumice, perlite or vulcanite to normal potting soil. The plant also does quite well in gritty compost that drains very well.
The Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant grows rather slowly, but the application of fertilizer can help to accelerate its growth rate to some extent.
But the plant does not require frequent fertilization. It is enough to fertilize once a year by using diluted liquid fertilizer.
The Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa grows in the USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11. Since the plant is native to Africa, it can tolerate warm climates and it must be kept warm during the winter months when the weather is cold.
The minimum safe temperature for the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant is around 59°F (15°C) or the high 50s, although the plant will be fine if the temperatures dip lower for a very short period of time.
In frost-free areas, the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa can be grown outdoors, but during the winter months, the plant must be kept dry and at temperatures above 50°F (10°C).
The plant goes into dormancy when the leaves turn yellow and fall off if the weather is too hot or too cold.
Pests and Diseases
The Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa is fairly healthy. It is quite resilient to diseases and not affected by most plant diseases, but the plant may be susceptible to pests like spider mites. Also, overwatering can cause root rot.
There is no need to prune the plant. And since it does not produce a lot of leaves or stems, managing the plant is quite easy but you can cut the vines back when they begin to look a bit ragged and unkempt.
Potting and Repotting
When planting the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa, use a pot or container with a large draining hole that allows proper draining of water because any water-logging can cause root rot.
It is best to use a clay pot to plant the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa because it will help the plant to dry out properly in between the waterings. Re-pot the plant once every two years.
Propagating Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa
You can propagate the Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant using seeds. Once the orange-red fruits of the plant become mature, you can collect the seeds from them and use them to grow new plants.
The Cephalopentandra ecirrhosa plant can also be propagated by using cuttings.