Huernia macrocarpa: Care and Propagation Guide

Huernia macrocarpa is a plant native to Ethiopia but the members of this enlarged complex “macrocarpa’ has a wide distribution encompassing Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, growing on granite rocks.

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About Huernia macrocarpa

Huernia macrocarpa is a clump-forming perennial succulent, it spreads by means of short, thick, branched stems which grow sideways or trailing and will quickly fill an entire pot. The stem is 4 to 25 cm tall, fleshy, green or greyish, cylindrical just below the base then quadrilateral or pentagonal, angles coarsely toothy.

It produces bell-shaped, light purple flowers with recurving petal tips, it can be very variable in color and flower size. The flowers are 1 to several, from the base of young shoots, facing outwards or noddingly, typically 5 lobed, and blooming from July to October.

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How to Care For Huernia macrocarpa

The Huernia macrocarpa or the starfish flower, as it is commonly called is a beautiful succulent you need to get home. Don’t let its stunning beauty deceive you into thinking that it is a high-maintenance plant. It is a creeper that is easy to grow and as long as you take care of the basics, it will thrive.


Huernia macrocarpa plants demand proper lighting to grow well. You should choose a place for these succulents that receives bright, indirect sunlight. However, make sure you do not expose it to direct sunlight because it can make it susceptible to rot and disease.


Watering the succulent just right is the key to its growth. Huernia macrocarpa does not like to be too wet and hence, you need to water it sporadically. In the summer season, water the plant only when the top layer of the soil looks crusty and dry. During winters, the plant goes into dormancy and you can get by easily by watering it just once a month.


You need to go for soil and pot that have good drainage if you are looking to nurture Huernia macrocarpa at home. Unglazed pots work well because they do not keep the moisture trapped. A cactus potting mix works well for Huernia macrocarpa because it supports good drainage and keeps the succulent healthy and happy.


The growing summer months demand some fertilization. Make sure to fertilize the plant once every month using a light fertilizer. As soon as you enter the fall and winter season, you can stop spraying the plants with fertilizers as they are going to be dormant anyway.

If the plant remains supple, glossy and green with deep red flowers, it is a sign that the plant is getting the desired sunlight. The plant will change in appearance in case the sunlight is not sufficient.

Pest and Diseases

Overwatering can lead to rot in the stem of the cactus. You will be able to identify this right by seeing dark spots on the stems. You will have to cut off these dark parts in case you notice an infestation. Alternately, you can also spray the plant with an insecticide to get rid of bugs and rots.

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How to Propagate Huernia macrocarpa

The growing season is the ideal time to propagate Huernia macrocarpa and you can do it sans any help by following some simple steps.

Usually, people propagate Huernia macrocarpa using stems. For this, you need to cut an offshoot from a mature Huernia macrocarpa plant and let it dry on a towel till the moisture completely evaporates from its stem.

Once the stem is dry, plant it in a pot with a fresh cactus mix. In the initial stages of growth, you need to keep the soil slightly damp and wet. Keep sprinkling with water when the soil dries out.

Do not forget to place the pot in an area that receives adequate sunlight. You will see the germination in a couple of weeks. You can repot this plant once every two years but it really is not that necessary. This is because Huernia macrocarpa succulents do not usually outgrow their containers.


Here are a couple of frequently asked questions on Huernia macrocarpa succulents that we have curated just for you. Read on!

How do you get Huernia macrocarpa to bloom?

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There are no big tricks that you need to pull in order to get the Huernia macrocarpa plant to bloom. It is, in fact, about getting the basics right.

There are five key components that you need to take care of to ensure that your plant blooms to its full potential. These include:

  • Well-drained container
  • Good potting mix
  • Diluted, light fertilizer sprayed sporadically
  • Optimum light
  • Adequate watering

Once you have these in place, it will mean that the plant has everything it needs to function to its full capacity. This will inadvertently lead to blooming flowers and a healthy succulent sans disease and rot.

The best part about this plant is that it has minimal pruning and repotting needs. You can repot once every two years though it is not mandatory. Similarly, pruning can be skipped unless you want a truly miniature plant.

Is Huernia macrocarpa a cactus?

Huernia macrocarpa is not a cactus, although there is divided opinion on its being one. In fact, a lot of its distinguishing features and maintenance needs resemble those of cacti.