Ceropegia is a genus that contains a diverse group of 160 species native to Africa, southern Asia, and Australia. Some of these perennial plants have succulent stems, which may be dwarf or vine-like and possess fibrous roots, while others have tubers and relatively thin stems along which new tubers may form in some species. Species with fleshy, thickened roots are the most difficult to grow. The leaves are opposite but can be vestigial on species with succulent stems.
Flowers occur either solitary or in umbel-like clusters and have a tubular corolla twice or more as long as its diameter and longer than the five lobes. The tube's base is usually inflated, and the tube may have downwardly orientated hairs inside and hairs outside and at the edges of lobes. Colors include reds, purples, yellows, greens, and mixtures of these colors. Flies entering the corolla may become trapped by the hairs until the flower wilts. The lobe tips are fused to form a cage-like flower structure in many species but are open in others.
Light: Ceropegias do well in bright sunlight. They do not need full sun. If the light is too low, the stems will stretch, and the leaves will be far apart. Plants will look better if grown in enough light. Also, the purple coloring will fade.
Water: These plants like to be watered regularly. Leaves should be thick and full. If they are paper thick, the plant is low on water.
Soil: Ceropegias will grow in any soil. Add more perlite to the mix, so the roots do not get too wet. If grown in the wetter soil mix, the soil must be allowed to dry between watering.
Fertilizer: A little fertilizer is helpful. Using too much will possibly burn the roots.
Ceropegias are usually propagated from cuttings. They can be placed against the soil in a pot. You can cut the stem and have a separate plant when they have rooted down. You can also cut off a tuber and part of the stem and coil it around the small pot. Then, it will have the chance to root. Most succulents will root from small pieces. It is a natural way to maximize the chances for the plant survival, if not the mother plant, then parts of it.
A gritty compost is suitable, and clay pots help with drainage, especially for the species with white thickened roots most susceptible to rotting and species forming large tubers. Ceropegias appreciate water and a little fertilizer during warm weather, although some watering care is required for the more difficult species. The vine-like species can suffer from prolonged drought.
Typically, many of these species grow and climb naturally among bushes, which provide shade and humidity to the base, while the vegetative growth is in the light. Where tubers occur, they are best planted on the compost's surface, and the vegetative growth is allowed to twine around supports or trail down from a hanging pot. The latter mode of growth has the advantage of not using valuable bench space. Small tubers formed at joints in the thin stems of some species can be used for propagation. If the tuber rots or dries out, do not panic. As long as some of the top growth is still in reasonable condition, it may be possible to save the plant by rerooting stems in damp gravel.
In the more succulent species, stems layered on the compost will produce roots from their lower surface and climb reproductive flowering shoots, allowing them to hang down, or twine around supports. Vine-like species readily root from cuttings inserted vertically in the soil to the bottom of a pair of leaves. A minimum over-wintering temperature of 50 °F (10 °C) is adequate, providing the plants are kept dry.
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