You probably saw a picture of a plant online with the cutest round leaves and thought. I. Want. It. Now.
At least thats how I felt when I saw the cutest pictures on Instagram titled “Stephania Erecta”. So naturally I decided my plant family could use a new family member and I started searching for one.
Stephania is a genus of flowering plans in the family Menispermaceae native to eastern and southern Asia and Australia. They are herbaceous perennial vines growing to around four metres tall, with a large, woody caudex.
Where to buy Stephania Erecta
I knew this wasn’t a “Honey I’ll be gone for 5 minutes” kind of plant. But for me it was the first plant I really wanted that was more difficult to find (first of many it turned out).
Luckaly I found @kzplants on Instagram. A seller of this beautiful plant in Thailand. So I contacted her. I ordered and after 2 weeks of shipping I was the lucky owner of… 6 Stephania Erecta, 1 Stephania Suberosa, and 2 Firmiana Colorata. Because well.. one is never enough right?
I was very happy. Olivier wasn’t and he asked me how I could be excited after receiving 9 potatoes from Thailand. That feeling went away when he saw the foliage on the Suberosa (pic below). It arrived with foliage still intact and even he thought it looked “pretty cute”.
Caudex plants are like cacti… right?
So I received some nice looking bulbs. But they didn’t have cute leaves yet. They didn’t even have roots. They were just bulbs. And I had no clue what to do..
When I searched online for care tips I was very impressed by the absolute lack of information about the care for caudex plants. What I could find on a average plant blog was DON’T OVERWATER BECAUSE THEY WILL ROT AND THEY WILL DIE.
So I thought.. Caudex are like cacti right? Water sparsely, less is more. Loads of sun and cactus soil are the way to go. Planted in some terracotta so it dries out quickly and for excellent drainage. I was wrong ff course.
Full sun is a no go. Stephania Erecta is a plant that needs shade. And if you really want them in terracotta, prepare for daily waterings and mistings. Because this plant is thirsty and it needs loads of water and very high humidity! Especially when you receive them from an international reseller, without foliage, without roots, and it’s just a bare bulb.
To be honest. I even had to ask which side was the top :’)
And I did not know all that. So I did everything I shouldn’t do. I planted them in terracotta, blasted them with Full sun in a south facing window and watered once a month. In the summer months. How they survived that? I don’t know but I am very happy that they did.
The right care for Stephania Erecta
I should have just used my brain because I’ve been to Thailand twice for a longer period of time. Once during summer and once during winter. So I should have known about the high humidity and how much rainfall there is during monsoon season.
So after actually using my brain and talking to @kzplants about how she cares for her plants. I figured I had to change some things. First I had to up humidity and watering. Watering is easy but humidity is more difficult. Especially in a well isolated house with large south facing windows. So I figured I’d put them in a jar.
I got some jars from my lovely mother in law. Started with some hydro grains and added a mix of regular soil, coco coir and lavastone. I put the bulb in for 1/3. After that I watered and put a lid on the jar so the water couldn’t evaporate. I also started misting the bulb in the jar once every two days.
I placed the jars 1.5 meter away from my south facing window (in winter/spring don’t do this in summer). The sun would hit the jar, the water would vaporize and it would be like mini Thailand inside that jar. Hot and sunny and very humid.
That worked like a charm. I put them in jars in February. I had growth and roots in march. It’s the end of april now and the flowers fall off and leaves start to grow!
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First flowers than leaves
I noticed Stephania Erecta makes flowers before it makes leaves. Not all of them. But most of them do. At this point I have the feeling that younger bulbs make more flowers before making leaves because I have one bulb that is bigger and older that started making leaves and flowers the same time. But that could be a coincidence. If I learn more about this I’ll share it with you.
From Jar to planter
Im still figuring out when you can repot from the jar to a planter. First I replanted one Erecta that grew so much that it bumped against the lid of the jar. And since I wasn’t able to close the jar it made sense to me that I could put it in a planter.
When I took it out of the jar I noticed the root system was really developed so the plant could take up water very easily. I chose a planter with holes (@pieceofclay made this planter for one of my causex plants) and filled it up with the same type of well draining soil I had made for the jar. I water this guy daily and mist it in the morning and in the evening.
I thought the jars looked pretty cute but of course this plant looks better in a cute planter. So far the leaf that was super tiny when I repotted it became bigger and definitely cuter. So far so good!
At the moment I replanted all three “test” bulbs in a planter. They all made leaves while inside the jar and they all have developed root systems.
I’m not a very patient person. But I was so excited about Stephania Erecta that I tried different things to make it work. I’m so happy that they all survived in the end and that all of them are looking healthy!
That first leaf was everything <3
Do you have any questions? Please send me a DM on instagram!