How to Grow Lifesaver Plants

This Low-Grower, Also Known As A Lifesaver Plant, Is Fun For All Ages To Grow

Huernia zebrina looks like somebody glued a Lifesaver candy to it, but Mother Nature did it all on her own. Despite the fact that its leaves resemble cactus spines, this member of the milkweed family is not a cactus. Yellow, starfish-shaped flowers are striped with fine, reddish lines and a big, red Lifesaver candy-like middle. This low-grower, also known as a Lifesaver plant, is fun for all ages to grow.

Native to deserts from Southern and East Africa to Arabia, Lifesaver plants prefer warmer, dryer climates, so they can be grown outdoors in San Diego. Outdoor plantings do well in raised beds.

In their natural setting, they grow underneath taller plants that shade them from sun. Place them in bright light or partial shade. Too much sun and the foliage risks severe sunburn; too little light and flower production will decrease.

Plant them in well-draining soil, like you would succulents or cacti, and let them dry between watering.

Apply high-phosphorous, low-nitrogen fertilizers at half-strength once a month during the growing season. Alternatively, blood meal and bone meal can be mixed into potting soil in small amounts at the beginning of the growing season. No fertilizers should be given during the dormant season.

These plants are prone to mealy bug attacks, so watch for such pests and treat appropriately.

Categories: Gardening, Tricks of the trade