huernia schneideriana plant

Huernia Schneideriana Plant Care Guide

Also known as the ‘Red Dragon” or “Red Dragon Flower,” Huernia Schneideriana is a cute, spikey succulent that can be easily grown at home. 

It gets the name ‘Red Dragon Flower’ for the lovely red flowers that it produces in spring and summer, but it is also well-known for its eye-catching, evergreen, spiked stems. 

These stems can grow up 8 to 12 inches tall and are scattered with sharp-looking thorns. The ‘thorns’ are all for show, though. When touched, they are actually soft and do not cause harm to the skin! 

Usually, the stems grow upright, but they can begin to droop as the plant ages. If you have a more mature Huernia Schneideriana, it may make a lovely hanging plant!

Huernia Schneideriana is an incredibly hardy and non-fussy plant – perfect for new plant owners or those who just don’t have the time for high-maintenance houseplants.


Botanical Name Huernia schneideriana
Common NameRed Dragon, Red Dragon Flower
Size8 to 12 inches tall
Pet FriendlyToxic to pets
Air CleanerYes


Huernia Schneideriana Origin

The Huernia Schneideriana succulent originates from Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Huernia plants are named in homage to a Dutch missionary, Justin Heurnius, who is said to have been the first collector of the plant. 

As you might have noticed, Mr. Heurnius’s name was misspelled in the naming of the plant he was to be recognized for, though the similarity is still there. 

It used to be believed that this succulent was a hybrid of two other plants, and there is still debate about where it originates from, but many now believe that they are not a hybrid and are native to either Malawi or Tanzania. 

How to Care for Huernia Schneideriana

As long as you get the basics right, you’ll have no trouble with keeping this plant healthy. Keep reading for a comprehensive overview of everything you’ll need to know! 

Light and Temperature

As mentioned above, this plant is very hardy, so you don’t have to worry too much about where you keep it – as long as it has some light. 

In the wild, Huernia Schneideriana is found growing underneath other plants, so they are not used to direct sunlight. Filtered, indirect sunlight for at least six hours each day is best.

Consider placing your Huernia Schneideriana near a western or eastern-facing window. If you are going to place it directly on a window sill, use a light curtain to reduce the sun’s intensity. 

In fact, too much light can burn their stems and turn them purple. 

If the stems of your plant do begin to turn purple, move it to an area with less direct sunlight. 

Conversely, if the stems of your plant appear leggy, weak, brittle, and the flowers are struggling to grow, your plant may need more light. Adjust your plant’s location accordingly. 

USDA hardiness zones 10b to 11b are best if you are going to keep your Huernia Schneideriana outdoors. 

Be prepared to protect your plant if you keep it outside and your climate experiences very cold weather. As a native desert plant, it won’t do well in freezing temperatures. 

Temperatures as low as 40 degrees are sustainable for Huernia Schneideriana, as long as they are in their dormant season and you refrain from watering them.

Much colder than that, and they should be covered or brought indoors. 


Overwatering is the most common issue plant owners see with Huernia Schneideriana. Their thick, green stems hold moisture, so they don’t need to be watered often. 

And, in their dormant season (fall and winter) they should be kept completely dry.

Watering as little as once a month during the winter is enough to sustain your plant. 

When it is not in the dormant season, water your plant every 1-2 weeks. 

Always wait until the first inch of the plant’s soil is completely dry before watering it. Err on the side of dryness if you are hesitant.

This goes for humidity as well. Huernia Schneideriana likes humidity levels that are similar to that of their desert origin – very dry. 

Do not keep this plant near other tropical plants or in rooms that have naturally higher humidity (i.e., near your shower or laundry room). 

If you are concerned that a room might be too humid for your Huernia Schneideriana, try turning on a fan or opening up a window to improve circulation and dry the room out a little. 


Huernia Schneideriana does not require a lot of fertilization.

Do not fertilize them at all during their dormant season. They aren’t growing and don’t need it. 

Your plant may benefit from monthly fertilization in its growing season – spring and summer. 

If you want to give your plant a growth boost, purchase a fertilizer that has a high phosphorous content and low nitrogen content. This will help stimulate flower development. 

Be sure to dilute the fertilizer according to package instructions. 

You can also use organic fertilizer if you prefer. Options such as worm castings or bone meal can be added to the soil in the spring.

If you choose to use organic fertilizer, only feed your plant once. Organic fertilizers are slow-releasing and will continue to feed your plant throughout the growing season. 


During the growing season, Huernia Schneideriana will produce red flowers that are 1-2 inches in size. 

These lovely flowers have five points to them and, in the center, darken to reddish-black. 

Contrary to many other succulents, Huernia Schneideriana will grow these flowers at the base of its stem rather than the top. This creates a very unique, lovely visual. 

The flowers can produce a scent of carrion (dead flesh) which, in the wild, attracts pollinator flies. But do not be too worried about this with your houseplant. You likely won’t notice the scent. 


Pruning is not required for this plant, although you can always shape it if you have aesthetic or size preferences. 

If you choose to do so, be sure to keep the cuttings! You can use these to propagate your Huernia Schneideriana and create new plants to give away or use yourself. 


Huernia schneideriana is a fast-growing plant, but it does prefer compact living conditions, so you will not need to repot it often. 

You only need to repot your plant every 1-2 years. It is best to repot it in the spring during its growing season. 

Extremely well-draining soil is essential for your Huernia Schneideriana, so be sure to make or purchase the right mixture before attempting to repot your plant. 

Plant mixtures specific to succulents are best. Peat, sand, and perlite are also a great mix.

Clay pots are an excellent choice for your Huernia Schneideriana, as well. Clay or terracotta pots are great at whisking away extra moisture in the soil, preventing root rot and overwatering. 

Also, consider placing a layer of course gravel at the very bottom of your planter to prevent extra moisture accumulation. 

The roots of your Huernia Schneideriana will die back in their dormancy, so shallow containers that allow the soil to dry out quickly are ideal. 


Most pests leave Huernia Schneideriana alone, but they can sometimes attract mealybugs. 

You’ll know your plant has mealybugs by their white, oval, waxy bodies. They \also leave a cotton-like substance on the bottom of your plant’s leaves. 

If you notice mealybugs on your Huernia Schneideriana, remove it immediately from nearby plants to avoid the spread of the infestation. 

Purchase an insecticide spray at your local plant nursery or online. This is a quick fix to control your mealybug infestation. 

Neem oil can also be used as an organic substitute. Use a cotton swab to apply the oil to your plant’s leaves. 

Neem oil can also be a great preventative measure to help avoid pest presence (as well as the presence of many other pests). 

When using it as a preventative measure, spray it on your Huernia Schneideriana’s soil and leaves every few weeks to help it stay potent. 


The Red Dragon plant is resistant to disease. Your most likely problem will probably be fungal growth from overwatering.

Take care that you don’t overwater your plant, and you should not have issues with fungi or diseases! 

If your Huernia Schneideriana’s stems begin to turn yellow and soft. You likely have overwatered it. 

If you notice this, act quickly. You should repot your plant to give it better soil and drainage. Remove as much of the old, wet soil as possible. 

You may need to trim some of the rotting stems during transplant. You’ll notice root rot when roots are brown, mushy, and giving off an unpleasant odor. 

How to Propagate Huernia Schneideriana

Red Dragon Flowers can be propagated, but they do take a few more steps than some other plants to grow successfully. Follow the steps below to propagate to grow a Huernia Schneideriana plant from a cutting. 

  • Take cleaned shears or scissors and cut a 4-6 inch piece of stem at a 45-degree angle. 
  • Dip your cutting in rooting powder and place it somewhere where it will be left alone for several weeks as you allow the end to dry out and callous. Somewhere with indirect sunlight is best. 
  • Wait until a callous has formed to move forward. This can take a few weeks to a couple of months, so patience is important! You will know that your cutting’s callous is ready when it is fully dry and looks gray. 
  • Pull together your well-draining potting mix and fill a shallow pot of your choice. 
  • Push your cutting about one inch deep into the potting medium and place it somewhere warm with indirect sunlight. 
  • Wait two days and then water it lightly. Water the plant lightly over the next couple of weeks. Many suggest using a spray bottle at first to make sure the soil does not get waterlogged and that the cutting does not begin to rot before it develops new growth. 
  • Then, sit back and watch it grow! In 2-3 weeks, you should see baby stems popping out of the soil. 

You can also propagate your Huernia Schneideriana through division.

Sometimes mother plants will produce pups or growth offshoots that can be separated from the mother plant and grown on their own. 

Again, propagation in spring or summer, even when it is propagation through division, is best. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Huernia Schneideriana a cactus?

Yes, the Huernia Schneideriana is a cactus. 

Huernia plants as a whole are sometimes referred to under the name of “lifesaver cactus” because their red flower is somewhat shaped like a red lifesaver! 

How do you get Huernia Schneideriana to flower?

If your Huernia Schneideriana is not flowering, it may be experiencing stress in some other area of care. 

Make sure your plant has enough light. If it does not have enough sunlight, it may be focusing all its energy on producing its stems rather than producing flowers. 

Also, take note of your watering habits. This plant needs only to be lightly watered – take care not to overwater. If the soil is continually wet, or the plant leaves begin to feel mushy, you have overwatered it. 

Is a Huernia Schneideriana hard to grow?

No, the Huernia Schneideriana is not hard to grow!

It’s a very low-maintenance, non-fussy plant. Give it light, a little water, proper soil, and you’re good to go! 

Is Huernia Schneideriana toxic to pets?

Plants from the Huernia family are considered, by many, not toxic. 

In South Africa, the locals used to boil them and eat them like vegetables. And in Ethiopia, they are considered famine food (meaning they can easily feed people when there is a shortage of food supplies). 

However, this is when they are cooked and cleaned. When initially cut, they do produce a milky white substance that can be toxic when eaten, so do be careful with this plant around both children and pets. 

Final Thoughts

The Huernia Schneideriana is an easy to care for, attractive plant great for beginner plant owners and seasoned plant owners alike. 

If you provide your plant with the basics – some light, water, well-draining soil – you should have no troubles growing a full, healthy plant for years to come! 

Be sure to check out all of our Plant Care Guides!

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