Piaranthus atrosanguineus (N.E.Br.) Bruyns
Ceropegia atrosanguinea, Caralluma atrosanguinea, Huerniopsis atrosanguinea, Stapelia atrosanguinea,
This species is native to South Africa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West) and eastern Botswana. It grows in sandy soil in dry bushveld at elevations between 2,130 and 4,920 feet (650 m and 1,500 m).
Piaranthus atrosanguineus, formerly known as Huerniopsis atrosanguinea, is a succulent plant with thick fleshy stems with more or less rectangular tubercles joined into usually four angles, each bearing towards apex a narrowly deltoid leaf-rudiment that soon dries out. The stems are dull green to grey, often mottled with purple. They are up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and 0.8 inches (2 cm) thick, growing along the ground or ascending. The short-lived flowers are star-shaped, up to 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) across, and appear in bundles of up to three from the central parts of young stems, opening successively in summer and fall. They open in the late afternoon and wilt the next morning. The five-lobed corolla is smooth, grey-green mottled with purple on the outside and finely papillate, deep maroon to brown on the inside. The corona is up to 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) tall and has five pale orange-yellow outer and five inner lobes in the same color below and cream to white above.
The specific epithet "atrosanguineus (at-ro-san-GWIN-ee-us) means "dark blood-colored" and refers to the color of the flowers.
How to Grow and Care for Piaranthus atrosanguineus
Light: P. atrosanguineus grows best in full sun or partial shade. It will benefit from light shade during the hottest summer days. Indoors, place the plant near the brightest window in your home. It will stretch if it does not have enough sunlight. Avoid abruptly moving plants adapted to lower light levels to full sun to prevent sunburn.
Soil: Use commercial potting soil mix for succulents or prepare your own with 50 to 70 % mineral grit, such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite.
Temperature: This plant thrives in warm outdoor environments with low to moderate humidity. It does not like winter cold and should remain fairly dry and warm during its winter dormancy. P. atrosanguineus can withstand temperatures as low as 35 °F (1.7 °C). USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10b to 11b, 35 to 50 °F (1.7 to 10 °C).
Watering: P. atrosanguineus has typical watering needs for a succulent. During the growing season, from spring to fall, water your plant thoroughly and allow the soil to dry between waterings. Do not water in winter. The plant goes dormant in winter and needs almost no water, about once a month.
Fertilizing: If you want to keep your plant healthy and thriving, fertilization is a good idea. Feed with water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength only when the plant is actively growing.
Repotting: Repot your plant in spring just before the growing season. P. atrosanguineus has shallow roots and does not require too much soil to grow. Pick a container with drainage holes.
Propagation: The best way to propagate this succulent is from stem cuttings. Take cuttings during the growing season to ensure good rooting. P. atrosanguineus is also easy to grow from seeds. Sow the seeds in spring.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapeliads.
Toxicity of Piaranthus atrosanguineus
P. atrosanguineus has no toxic effects reported. It is safe around pets and humans.
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