resurrection plant close up image

How To Care For A Resurrection Plant (Selaginella lepidophylla)

resurrection plant close up image

A resurrection plant, also known as the Rose of Jericho, is one of the most unique plants you can grow in your home. As you can gather from the name, this is one that’s probably harder to kill than it is to maintain. Making it the ideal plant for even the most inexperienced indoor gardeners.

So, how do you care for a resurrection plant? Resurrection plants don’t need soil, they are epiphytes. It prefers plenty of light, if it doesn’t get enough it will curl up. But don’t worry, you can always revive it. It’s fine at most average temperatures but the main thing is that you need to ensure that the temperature doesn’t fluctuate. When watering it, use distilled or natural rain water for the best results. Do not over water it, root rot will quickly set in.

Even if you don’t find success at first, the plant can be revived should it dry up. But it will add a beautiful element to your home for many years to come. Getting he basics right for this plant is simple, but having a deeper understanding of it will ensure you have the most success. However, this is a plant that anybody can take care of.

It’s relatively straightforward to take care of this plant. Here in this guide, I’ve covered everything that I learned with my experience with this plant. I’m sure you can have the same success as myself.

resurrection plant close up, uncurling

Resurrection Plant Overview

In their natural habitat, the Chihuahuan Desert to be precise, they dry up then curl into a ball to let the wind blow them to the next watering hole. This is what makes this plant so interesting, it has adapted perfectly to its environment.

It can be grown as an epiphyte but typically they are grown on a bed of gravel. You can even store the plant in a cupboard for a while, then just water it to bring it back to life. If you do decide to do that though, make sure it doesn’t get squashed!

There’s plenty of history about this plant too. It plays a part in many religions across the world, due to its revival properties. For example, Catholics often bring this plant out during Easter/Christmas times to represent the resurrection of Christ. It’s also often used by Hoodoo practitioners in spells and as an incense.

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Best Location For Your Resurrection Plant

Resurrection plants can be grown pretty much anywhere. Besides, there’s little risk as you can just revive it elsewhere if that area doesn’t work out so well. Ideally though, you need it to be in a place where it gets plenty of light. If it doesn’t get quite enough, it will start to shrivel back up into a ball. This is what happens when it’s stored in a cupboard.

Typically I keep mine in windows where they get plenty of light throughout the day. As they’re native to the desert they’re used to lots of sunlight. Obviously they do need some periods of darkness too, this is essential for a healthy plant.

Selaginella lepidophylla (syn. Lycopodium lepidophyllum) reviving, after after 4 hours 50 minutes. Isolated on white background

Soil For Resurrection Plants

In their natural state, they’re epiphytic plants so you can grow them on nearly any surface. This means you don’t actually need soil for them. I’ve got them in various locations across my home, some attached onto other plants then others in a small tray of gravel. 

So, the easiest thing to do is fill a shallow bowl with gravel and place your resurrection plant on top. Oh, and make sure the bowl doesn’t have drainage holes. This is one of few plants where you don’t want the water to drain away!

Watering Your Resurrection Plant

Now this is where this plant is truly interesting and you’ll understand where it gets its name. As it’s native to the desert, it often has to make journeys to find a new water source. Yes, this plant has to travel. How strange is that? Well, it does this by drying up and curling into a ball. Then the wind blows it across the desert, where it will hopefully then find a new water hole to revive itself in.

So, simulating this in your home is easy. But don’t worry, you don’t need to be blowing it around anywhere. To water your resurrection plant, there’s a few different methods you can try to see which works best for you.

But before we get into the methods, you need to ensure you get the water right. It can be a little sensitive to chemicals in water so it’s better to use distilled or leave your tap water out overnight to remove some of them. Also, use room temperature water so you don’t shock the plant as it doesn’t do too well with sudden temperature fluctuations.

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The first method is the most straightforward, fill the shallow tray up with enough water to cover half the gravel. Don’t let it cover any of the plant though as this can cause root rot. The water will evaporate and provide the plant with everything it needs.

If you’re intending on growing this plant on another, then you will need to water it slightly differently. There’s a combination of things that you can do here. First, you can soak the plant every few days in distilled water. Ensure that you don’t leave it in there too long, this will again cause root rot. I’ve found it best to just dip it in the water, leave it for about 10 seconds then remove it and put it back where it was. 

Or, the final method, you can simply mist the plant with a spray bottle every few days to keep it healthy. If you notice the plant starting to curl up then you need to increase the frequency that you are misting it. But again, as I’ve already mentioned, don’t worry if it curls up as you can learn from your mistakes and revive it.

Humidity For Your Resurrection Plant

As it’s native to the desert, it’s used to dry spells. But this is when it curls up into a ball, entering survival mode. So if your environment is really dry and it’s not getting sufficient moisture through your watering methods then you may want to increase the humidity too. As exposure to moisture is when it begins to uncurl and thrive.

Following any of the previous watering advice will help increase the humidity around the plant. If it’s suffering too much and you’re struggling to increase the humidity, you can always try putting it in your bathroom. Provided it still gets plenty of light int here. But if all else fails, you can always invest in a humidifier such as this one on Amazon.

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Toxicity

If you’re having this in your home, there’s always the concern of whether it’s toxic to humans or pet. But there’s no definitive answer as to whether this plant is toxic, and as you can expect, I’m not willing to test this out on my pets. However, as this plant is a member of the spikemoss family there’s a good chance that it could be toxic to your pets so it’s always best to keep them away from it where you can.

Propagation

This is a super easy plant to propagate, it’s a fun task to let your children do. It’s done through one of the most common methods, cuttings.

To propagate them, to collect some cuttings from them. All you need to do is wait until the plant unfolds and begins to thrive. Then simply cut away some small sections and place them in an environment similar to the one the parent was in. After a while, with the right care, you should notice them start to grow into another beautiful resurrection plant.

F.A.Q

There’s many questions surrounding this plant, I’ve done my best to answer them to the best of my knowledge below.

How Long Can A Rose Of Jericho Go Without Water?

They’ve been known to survive for many years without water. This is why you can store them in a cupboard for months when you don’t want them on display. I often do this during the winter as they start to require a little more maintenance.

Why Is My Resurrection Plant Not Turning Green?

If the plant is not fully hydrated, it will struggle to turn green. So if you’re struggling with this, increase the amount you’re watering it until you find the right balance. It’s to do with the sugar crystals that are in the plant, these must be fully dissolved for it to thrive.

Why Is The Rose Of Jericho Called A Resurrection Plant?

Essentially it gets the name from its ability to survive desiccation. This means it can be completely dehydrated, otherwise known as extreme dryness. Once it manages to get re-hydrated, it will seemingly come back to life. Hence the name, resurrection plant.

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