Huernia schneideriana (otherwise known as the red dragon flower) is a cute type of succulent that you can easily grow at home. You can recognise it by the beautiful red flowers and tell-tale cactus stem.
So, how do you care for a huernia schneideriana? Huernia schneideriana plants need well-draining soil, but you need to let it dry out regularly. Throughout winter, you should keep it completely dry. Keep it out of direct sunlight, it prefers partial shade. Also ensure that the temperature doesn’t fluctuate too much, ideally you need to keep it in the range of 50 – 80°F (10 – 27°C). You don’t really need to fertilize this plant, but if you do, ensure that you only do it during the growing season.
As long as you get these basics right, you’ll have a lot of success with your plant. But if you want to know how to take extra good care of it, I’ve put together a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know. Let’s get into it.
Ideal Location For Your Huernia Schneideriana
Red dragon flowers are incredibly hardy. They can survive in the toughest conditions, so you don’t need to be too careful about where you put them.
In the wild, they are found growing underneath other plants. They like to tuck themselves away as too much direct sunlight can cause their stem to turn purple for protection and could even burn them!
However, you definitely don’t want to leave them in a cupboard as they do require some light. If you do, you’ll find their blooms to be weak and feeble. In serious cases, their flower production will dwindle to almost nothing!
For the prettiest outcome, your precious succulent friend should be able to reach some sunlight throughout the day — even in the winter months. Although, you should be prepared to protect them when it gets super cold (depending on where you live).
Ideal Soil For Huernia Schneideriana
Since red dragon flowers tend to live in very arid areas of the world, you need to make sure their soil mix has amazing drainage.
We suggest that you look for a plant mix specific to succulents containing the following:
- 25% peat (if you would prefer organic mulch, that’s fine too)
- 25% sand (this helps stop the detrimental effects of overwatering like root rot)
- 50% pumice (perlite works just as well)
Aim to put a layer of coarse gravel between the soil mix and your pot. It will help to boost the drainage that little bit extra which Huernia schneideriana benefits from. Depending on your country’s summer climate, the gravel will also work to dry out the stems, further preventing rot from destroying your plant.
If you are struggling to pick out the perfect pot for it, your best bet is to stick with a clay one. They are great at wicking away any extra water from the soil so your succulent can thrive.
Once you have put your red dragon flower into that beautiful clay pot, with a saucer, you should then think about popping it into a shallow container. Again, this will let the soil dry out quickly (especially necessary in the fall when the roots die back).
Light And Temperature For Your Huernia Schneideriana
The optimum light is “bright shade”, sometimes referred to as “partial shade” instead. As we mentioned briefly earlier, in nature, they grow under the safety of other plants. Thus, catching some sun but not too much (i.e. bright shade).
You want to ensure you replicate this environment as much as possible. Too much light can damage and burn their stems, leading to the early demise of your leafy friend. Not enough light will prevent the flowers from reaching their full potential.
Where temperature is concerned, you should be more worried about the bitterly cold weather more than anything else. Try to protect them as much as you can if it does get below 40°F (4.5°C) where you live.
Having said that, they can tolerate as low as 40°F as long as they are dormant and you do not water them.
Your red dragon flower will grow perfectly between 50 and 80°F (10 and 27°C). But thanks to their natural climate, they can put up with temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). Just make sure they aren’t in direct sunlight in these cases!
Watering Your Huernia Schneideriana
When you compare the red dragon flower’s water needs with other indoor plants, you will quickly realize just how easy these guys are to water!
During the winter and fall (basically when their roots start to die and they lay dormant), they need to be kept completely dry. The desert-like conditions they are used to facing means you need to ensure their soil doesn’t face any of that winter chill. Of course, this does depend on where you live.
As soon as they start growing again, you will need to water them. However, it won’t be as often as you might be thinking! Once you’ve watered them, wait until the soil is dry roughly 1 inch down the container before you give them enough drink.
Oh, and be careful if you live in a place with water that contains a load of minerals. If you do, you should only use rainwater for your red dragon flower. Why? Because otherwise, the soil will buildup a backlog of minerals which will ruin sadly harm your plant.
Huernia schneiderianas love to be dry. So, you need to ensure that the air in your house is kept consistently dry too — especially if you tend to experience damp seasons in your area.
Don’t worry though, as there are plenty of ways to help do this!
Try one (or a few) of our recommendations. Some of them are easier than others, we’ll be honest, but they’re worth a go for the sake of your plant pal, right?
By far, this is the easiest way to keep the air nice and dehumidified.
To do this, simply open your windows and doors as much as practicable.
At the same time, turn your extraction fans on (you might have one in the kitchen, bathroom, or both) to truly suck out the moisture.
We’ve found this to be exceptionally helpful! Not only did this help some of our plants, but it also decreased the likelihood of mold and mildew growing in unsightly, unhealthy places.
Use a Solar Air Heater
Now, this is expensive. However, if you have a ridiculously bad humidity issue, then it is the most effective way. This thing is like a moisture vacuum.
It takes the air from outside, then warms, dries, and filters it before distributing the humidity-free air around your house. It’s a miracle machine for chronically humid homes.
We don’t really mean shower less. We mean, don’t stand under the shower singing your heart out to Sam Smith for half an hour!
In all seriousness though, having long showers is the number one cause of high humidity in the United States of America — plus you’ll be doing your part in tackling climate change. But of course the most important part, this should help your red dragon flower.
Try to cut your time in there down, even if it’s just by a few minutes. I used to stick a timer on, but I’ve kind of got used to having shorter showers now.
Fertilizing Huernia Schneiderianas
When your red dragon flower is dormant, you should not give them any fertilizer. They simply don’t need it since they aren’t growing. To be honest, even when they are growing, fertilizing isn’t always necessary. But if you want to give your little leafy friend a boost, you can do.
For best results, you should purchase a fertilizer that has a low nitrogen content but is relatively high-phosphorus. Don’t go overboard though! Make sure you dilute it so it’s half-strength and apply it once each month.
Alternatively, you can use bone meal and blood meal to fertilize your Huernia schneideriana. You should apply this at the start of the growing season and leave it at that. To do so, simply mix the meal into your potting soil.
If your red dragon flower is doing well and you think it is time for a brand-new pot then it’s important that you know how to do it properly. For those who aren’t sure, if your plant is over 2 months old and you are yet to repot, we promise it is ready to go!
So you can easily follow along, we thought we would give you a handy little step-by-step guide. This way, you can be 100% sure that you are doing everything right by your little green and red friend:
Get all the tools ready — you will need 1 gallon of horticultural perlite, ¾ gallon of sandy loam, a tub, your new pot, a sieve, trowel, and a bit of mesh screen for the bottom of your pot.
- Sieve the horticultural perlite and sandy loam into a tub.
- Mix well.
- Grab your new pot.
- Place a bit of mesh screen at the bottom of the pot.
- Pour the growing mix into the pot until there are only 2 inches left at the top.
- Discard the initial layer of soil from the pot your plant is currently in.
- Gently take the red dragon flower and the root system out of its pot. Use a trowel (trust us, you’ll need it).
- Then, place it onto the perlite and sandy loam in the new pot.
- Spread the roots as best as you can.
- Fill the pot up to the top, and you’re all done!
Some plants are relatively easy to propagate but with these guys, you will need a tad more horticulture experience.
Regardless, if you want to give it a go anyway, let us be your guide! Follow the steps below:
- Mix bleach and water in a washing-up bowl. This should be done in a 1:9 ratio, meaning one part bleach to nine parts water.
- Soak a serrated blade in this solution.
- Take your red dragon flower to your cutting station.
- Find a healthy stem that is 4 to 6 inches long.
- Cut the stem off at a 45-degree angle with your soaked serrated blade. The angle ensures you won’t drown it later in the process.
- Dampen a cloth with isopropyl alcohol.
- Use that to wipe the blade clean.
- Let the stem dry out properly (about a week or two will do).
- Ensure the end is square by making a straight-across cut with a clean knife.
- Dip this end into rooting powder.
- Place the cutting upright outside. Ensure it is in a covered area so it won’t be disturbed.
- Leave it alone for a few months or however long it takes the cut to form a callus. You will know it’s callused since it will be fully dry and look gray.
- If you notice any leaves on the 2 inches at the end of the cutting, pinch them off with your thumb and forefinger.
- Sieve ¼ gallon river sand, ¼ gallon sandy loam, and ½ gallon of horticultural perlite into a container.
- Mix with a large stick.
- Put a bit of mesh at the bottom of an 8-inch clay pot.
- Pour the mixture into the pot.
- Make sure it is full.
- Use your hand to pat the propagation mix down.
- Gently push your cutting an inch into the propagation medium.
- Get some fine gravel and sprinkle this on the top (about ⅓ inch thick).
- Bring it inside so it can stay warm, get full sunshine, and experience decent airflow.
- Wait for two days.
- Water it. Hey presto, you did it!
Here are some questions we’ve frequently been asked about red dragon flowers. If you can’t find yours below, leave a comment and we’ll do our best to help you!
Are Red Dragon Flowers Toxic?
Since your red dragon flower is indoors, you have likely thought about this (even if you have never asked the question).
The good news is that they are not toxic! In fact, people in South Africa used to eat them.
They are a truly great addition to families with pets and children because of their incredible non-toxic nature.
Do I Need to Worry About Pests?
Pests tend to stay away from red dragon flowers but occasionally, you might have to worry about mealybugs. These are a threat to almost all types of plants, so you’re not alone in this!
You need to keep an eye on your green-leaved friend so you can catch them early. Use systemic insecticides to control them as quickly as possible and all will be well!