46 Types of Huernia: Care and Propagation Guide

If beautiful flowers make your heart melt, this is one plant you need to get home. The distinguishing feature of the Huernia is its beautiful, deep red flowers that are sure to make people take notice when they visit you. The cream and red combination with a rubbery sheen is simply too gorgeous to look at.

Types of Huernia

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How to Care For Huernia

The Huernia or the lifesaver cactus, 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.

Soil

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

Watering

Watering the succulent just right is the key to its growth. Huernia 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.

Fertilizing

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.

Light

Huernia 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.

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.

How to Propagate Huernia

huernia

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

Usually, people propagate Huernia using stems. For this, you need to cut an offshoot from a mature Huernia 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 succulents do not usually outgrow their containers.

Huernia Species and Varieties

Huernia aspera

Huernia aspera

Huernia aspera is a small succulent species with creeping stems and tiny, dark purple, bell-shaped flowers, prominently papillate and with a foetid odour to attract flies for pollination.

Huernia barbata

Huernia barbata

Huernia barbata is a leafless succulent forming dense clumps to 60 cm. Flowers creamy, urn-shaped, with triangular, acuminate, spreading lobes, the tube entirely or irregularly and concentrically marked with delicate maroon speckling, with long stiff, purple, often clavate (club-shaped), hairs in the mouth of the tube and onto petals. The dense hairs of the corolla tube, which give the plant its name, make the flowers especially charming and exclude any confusion with any other species.

This species is quite variable, especially the ground colour of the corolla and covering of dark purple-brown warts and small blood-red spots vary considerably from plant to plant; moreover, the stiff clavate purple hairs in the tube are very variable in size and length.

Huernia guttata

Huernia guttata

Huernia guttata is a small, tufted perennial succulent with upright, thick, toothed, 4- to 5- angled stems usually less than 7 cm tall. Its beautiful 5 lobed flowers appear in groups of 2 to 4 at the base of new shoots. The bell-shaped corolla has five lobes with appendages between them and a conspicuous, convex fleshy ring or annulus with a shiny surface in the centre, the inner face is yellow and dotted with crimson, the marks are much larger, sometimes confluent on the annulus, but quite variable.

The typical plants are recognised by their smaller flowers, spotted or lined tube and dull annulus with short inwardly pointed hairs at the tube mouth.

Huernia guttata subsp. calitzdorpensis

Huernia guttata subsp. calitzdorpensis

Huernia guttata subsp. calitzdorpensis is a local or morphological form distinguished from subsp. guttata by its larger, darker flowers up to 7 cm across, the tube is dark maroon, occasionally marked with some vague yellowish lines, the hairs at its throat much longer and more strongly clavate.

Huernia hislopii

Huernia hislopii

Huernia hislopii (commonly known as ‘dragon flower’) is a tufted, leafless succulent, consisting of a number of five-angled stems, occasionally forming large clumps. These stems are green during the rains but usually turn reddish-brown in the dry winter months. The ridges on the stems form fleshy, thorn-like points, which serve as “leaves”.

The flowers in many related species emit a distinctive carrion smell in order to attract carrion flies, which are the pollinators, but H. hislopii has little or none of that smell. The flowers may appear now and then from the middle of spring and they can bloom all the way until winter.

Huernia hislopii subsp. cashelensis

Huernia hislopii subsp. cashelensis

Huernia cashelensis is a tufted perennial succulent with a peculiar long tubed flower similar to those of Huernia longituba. It differs from the latter in having 5-6 angled stems and slightly smaller flowers, as opposed to the 4-5 angles of H. longituba. The base of the tube is often slightly widened and has more bristle-tipped papillae. The corona shows less clavate inner lobes.

Huernia hislopii subsp. robusta

Huernia hislopii subsp. robusta

Huernia hislopii subs. robusta is similar to standard Huernia hislopii, but stems are more robust with 5-7 ribs. The tube is longer, weakly inflated, basally without or with weak concentric lines. The lobes of the corolla are shorter, rarely acuminate.

Huernia humilis

Huernia humilis

Huernia humilis is a small compact succulent with very beautiful flowers highlighted by dramatic colours, with a fleshy rose doughnut-shaped annulus in the centre, darker than the lobes which are yellow with small maroon spots, finely papillate. The tube is maroon inside, smooth at the mouth. It distinguishes in the shortness of the stems tapered to the apex in a pyramidal shape, the smallness of the flowers (25-30 mm across) and usually solitary peduncles. This plant is not well known, quite variable and has only been collected on a very few occasions.

Huernia hystrix

Huernia hystrix

Huernia hystrix is an interesting tufted species with erect stems being five-angled, purplish-green that varies considerably in the size and the shape of the flowers. The flowers, which arise in succession at the base of the stems, are cup-shaped, with spiny petals, dull yellow in colour and banded with red, but variable. Huernia hystrix subsp. hystrix differs from its other varieties with its more vigorous stems and larger flowers. The inner surface of the flower is densely covered with prominent papillae, justifying the name ‘porcupine Huernia”.

Huernia hystrix subsp. parvula

Huernia hystrix subsp. parvula

Huernia hystrix subs. parvula is a distinctive subspecies with much shorter stems rarely more than 3 cm long, and smaller flowers with shorter papillae and the less expanded inner corona-lobes.

Huernia kennedyana

Huernia kennedyana

Huernia kennedyana the “Humpty Dumpty Huernnia” is a perennial succulents species with remarkable small highly papillose, yellow flowers. It is easily recognizable even without flowers. Its 2-5-3.5 cm long stems are globular or egg-shaped and it spreads like a mat across the ground in time.

Huernia levyi

Huernia levyi

Huernia levyi forms fleshy small clumps with greyish green stems branching near the base. The stems are nearly erect 4 angled. The flower is instantly recognisable and cannot be mistaken for that of any other species. It is strikingly elongated 8up to 4 cm long), 5 lobed with rough exteriors, cream to yellow coloured, and heavily speckled with burgundy. The lobes are short and flared outwards. The stems are nearly erect, 4-5 angled, finger-like about 7 cm long and armed with prominent teeth.

Huernia loeseneriana

Huernia loeseneriana

Huernia loeseneriana is an easily flowered species that has beige to light yellow flowers with delicate maroon markings reminiscent of leopard spots on the five-pointed petal lobes.

Huernia longii

Huernia longii

Huernia longii has inner-corona lobes, ribbon-like, thin, tips swollen, diverging or meeting each other.

Huernia longii subsp. echidnopsoides

Huernia longii subsp. echidnopsoides

Huernia longii subsp. echidnopsoides is smaller than Huernia pillansii and has more slender stems with fewer teeth and smaller, spreading (not deflexed) teeth. The flowers are smaller with proportionately wider corolla lobes, shorter papillae and have quite different inner corona lobes.

The flowers are starry 2-3(-3.5) cm in diameter with lobes just slightly longer than broad at their base.

Huernia longituba

Huernia longituba

Huernia longituba is an interesting richly branched species with erect stems being four- or five-angled, with short teeth light green, sometimes tinted with purple. The flowers, which arise appear singly or in groups of 2 or 3 at the base of the stems, with a bell-shaped tube ca. 2 cm long (considerably longer than any species known), and with triangular, sharply acute corolla lobes.

The interior is creamy yellow with red spots and spherical warts. The base of the tube is glabrous, smooth, and whitish, with diagonal, dark-red lines.

Huernia macrocarpa

Huernia macrocarpa

Huernia macrocarpa is an easily flowered succulent species. In autumn it produces bell-shaped, white-haired, mostly dark purple flowers with recurved petal tips, it is however very variable in colour and size of flowers.

Huernia namaquensis

Huernia namaquensis

The Namaqua Carrion Flower (Huernia namaquensis) is an interesting low-growing succulent with upright shoots rooting where they touch the ground. Readily offsets to form a low growing densely packaged tuft. It has dispensed with leaves entirely and relies on its stems for photosynthesis. Flowers are whitish-yellow dotted with red. The species is variable in flower size and shape.

Huernia occulta

Huernia occulta

Huernia occulta is a sprawling stem succulent. It is closely related to Huernia hislopii but can be readily distinguished by the long and slender, creeping stems, rooting when touching the soil. The flower is cream with many tawny red spots on the limb and lobes.

Huernia oculata

Huernia oculata

Huernia oculata, with its unique looking flowers, is one of the most gem-like of all. The corolla is blackish purple velvety with a pure white centre which has given rise to the saying that the flowers are like an eye. It is closely related to Huernia hislopii.

Huernia pendula

Huernia pendula

Huernia pendula is a very peculiar species that differs from all others Huernias in its growth-form, it has irregularly branched shoots that lean back, creep, or hang down from cliffs and can reach a length of 45 to 150 cm. The small, bell-shaped purple flowers with triangular lobes appear from spring to midsummer.

The species epithet ‘pendula’ (Latin) pertains to the pendent growth of the stems (and flowers too). Huernia pendula is one of the easiest to grow stapeliads and is not shy to flower. Its common name is Bootlace.

Huernia piersii

Huernia piersii

Huernia piersii is a tufted, perennial succulent distinguished by creamy-white flowers marked all over with small dark red or brownish-crimson spots, and thinly bearded with long outstanding dark crimson clavate hairs in the throat and around the mouth of the tube.

Huernia pillansii

Huernia pillansii

Huernia pillansii is one of the most distinct species of this genus, no other having similar bristle-covered stems, which resemble those of a Hoodia in miniature. Several forms of this species exist and may just be considered as forms as none are distinct enough to justify naming them. Justly popular for its stems and showy star-like blooms. The flowers are somewhat like those of Huernia hystrix.

Huernia plowesii

Huernia plowesii

Huernia plowesii is an extremely neat little species with a distinctive pattern on star-shaped flowers. It does not make a large flower, but the solid purple-brown annulus distinctly blotched with cream-coloured marks on its outer edge still make it a standout bloom.

Huernia praestans

Huernia praestans

Huernia praestans is a small perennial succulent species with very short, purple and green mottled acutely-angled stems and relatively large, showy flowers at the stem base. The corolla is greenish-yellow, with small purple dots. the only slightly raised annulus more heavily spotted, the markings becoming confluent in the tube. The disc has large creamy papillae tipped with stout purple hairs. The rough papillate corolla aligns it more closely with Huernia brevirostris.

Huernia procumbens

Huernia procumbens

Huernia procumbens is an intriguing succulent perennial herb with reptile-like sinuous, stems that trail close to the ground, occasionally lifting their ‘heads’ or becoming pendent.

Flowers appear in inflorescences of 1 to 2 flowers, at the base of the young shoots; the corolla is 4-5.5 cm in diameter, with a chestnut-brown, glabrous annulus and slender sharply acuminate cream to earth-colored corolla lobes. The corona is seated at the base of a short tube, the inner lobes with a spreading-erect enlarged dorsal wing.

Huernia quinta

Huernia quinta

Huernia quinta is a variable succulent species with a tuft-like growth form that grows to an average height of 7 cm. The flowers, which arise in groups of 4 or 5 from stem bases are attractively marked, creamy white, banded with dark red and with similar colouring on the reverse.

Huernia schneideriana

Huernia schneideriana

Huernia schneideriana is a very attractive species that was once thought to be a natural hybrid of Huernia verekeri and Huernia aspera, but is now recognised by some authorities as a legitimate species in its own right. The flowers are burgundy, but almost black inside the tube, about 3 cm and velvety. Both Huernia schneideriana and Huernia macrocarpa have coloured flowers and similar stems.

Huernia stapelioides

Huernia stapelioides

Hurenia stapeloides is a very variable clump- or carpet-forming species with 4-angled stems. A striking feature of the tubular flowers is the narrow, circular bands of dark red that run the entire length of the tube and the yellow-red, mottled corolla lobes that end in an acute point. The flower opens flat but after two days the lobes curl back.

Huernia thuretii

Huernia thuretii

Huernia thuretii is an interesting tufted species with erect stems that vary considerably in the size and shape of the flowers. The flowers, which arise in succession at the base of the stems, are cup-shaped, with petals dull yellow in colour and spotted or banded with red and a maroon throat.

Huernia transvaalensis

Huernia transvaalensis

The “Transvaal huernia”, botanically known as Huernia transvaalensis, is an attractive tufted, leafless succulent, consisting of a number of four- or five-angled pinkish-grey stems with darker markings, occasionally forming loose clumps or carpets.

It is not as freely blooming as the others species in cultivation, but extraordinary when it does flower. The five-pointed flowers range between 4 and 5 cm in diameter, color alternates between pale yellow or cream and purple patches. These patches exhibit great irregularity in shape and size, unlike Huernia zebrina where the same two colours achieve almost linear regularity or Huernia guttata (and several others) where speckles or spots prevail. It is one of the so-called “lifebuoy” huernias because of the glossy raised annulus.

Huernia verekeri

Huernia verekeri

Huernia verekeri is a very pretty and widespread tropical, floriferous species with 5- to 7-angled stems closely set with narrow soft teeth. The typical variety is a perennial erect, softly-spiked plant that produces an abundance of star-like flowers developing in succession.

Flowers are cream to pinkish on the outside of the tube, inside purple-maroon around the circular rim of the wide shallow mouth of the tube, turning white towards the base, the corona is suborbicular, the inner lobes incumbent on but not as long as the anthers.

Huernia verekeri subsp. angolensis

Huernia verekeri subsp. angolensis

Huernia verekeri subsp. Angolensis differs from the typical Huernia verekeri for the stems that are bent outwards and downwards, these bluntly ribbed with small tubercles. The corolla tube is wholly dark red inside and the corona is reddish.

Huernia volkartii

Huernia volkartii

Huernia volkartii (commonly known as dragon flower) is a an attractive tufted, leafless succulent, consisting of a number of five-angled stems, occasionally forming clumps or carpets. These stems are green during the rains but usually turn reddish-brown in the dry winter months. The ridges on the stems form fleshy, thorn-like points, which serve as “leaves”.

Huernia volkartii var. repens

Huernia volkartii var. repens

Huernia volkartii var. repens is distinguished by its longer creeping stems with stem teeth very reduced and leaf-rudiments more or less deciduous. The flowers appear identical with many of those of Huernia volkartii, which will necessitate making H. repens a variety of it.

Huernia whitesloaneana

Huernia whitesloaneana

Huernia whitesloaneana is a an attractive miniature species that grow in colonies. Stems are purplish-green, growing no taller than 3 cm (or more under cultivation), four- to five-angled with rounded projections (tubercles) along the ridges.

The flowers are tiny, bell-shaped, only about 1 cm across, cream, with maroon mottling. They are smooth on the outer surface but with minute, pimple-like bodies (papillae) on the inside. Though small, they still smell foul. The blooms face upwards when produced within the clump, but outwards if formed on the colony edge, for they find support on the ground.

Huernia zebrina

Huernia zebrina

Huernia zebrina (a.k.a. Owl eyes) is a low-growing perennial succulent species more or less creeping, occasionally forming mats. It is one of the most beautiful flowering huernias and very popular in cultivation for its odd blooms.

It has a raised, glossy, wine-red ring or ‘annulus’ around the mouth of the corolla tube. The corolla varies in size and is usually patterned with wine-red zebra stripes which vary conspicuously in colour intensity. One of the so-called “lifebuoy” huernias because of the glossy raised annulus.

Huernia zebrina subsp. insigniflora

Huernia zebrina subsp. insigniflora

Huernia zebrina subs. insigniflora is a remarkable perennial succulents species with dull greyish-green, 4-angled stems tinged with pink, with acute, spreading teeth. It forms small dense clumps up to 10 cm in diameter. The wide-opening, star-shaped flowers have a distinct, liver-coloured raised ring or annulus at the centre, which looks exactly like a life-belt, and ivory to pink spreading lobes.

The corolla lobes are unmarked or, sometimes, faintly mottled or barred and shortly pubescent. Its stems differ from the related Huernia zebrina in being greyish-green with smaller teeth on the angles.

Huernia zebrina subsp. magniflora

Huernia zebrina subsp. magniflora

Huernia zebrina subsp. magniflora is a more xerophytic form distinguished from subs. zebrina by its flowers that are twice the size of those of the typical subspecies, up to 85 mm across, and for the 4-angled stems which are taller, irregularly branching and not mat-forming. It is one of the most beautiful flowering huernias and very popular in cultivation for its odd blooms.

It has a raised, glossy, wine-red ring or ‘annulus’ around the mouth of the corolla tube. The corolla varies in size and is usually patterned with wine-red zebra stripes which vary conspicuously in colour intensity. The blooms are also very shiny and may look like plastic, but it’s for real. One of the so-called “lifebuoy” huernias because of the glossy raised annulus.

FAQs

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

How Do You Get Huernia to Bloom?

how do you get huernia to bloom

There are no big tricks that you need to pull in order to get the Huernia 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 a Cactus?

is huernia a cactus

Huernia is not a cactus, although there is divided opinion on its being one. However, note that in common parlance it is called lifesaver cactus or succulent. In fact, a lot of its distinguishing features and maintenance needs resemble those of cacti.