Huernia kennedyana is native to South Africa, where it is endemic to the Eastern Cape and occurs in the mountains between Cradock and Pearston. Though it occurs only in that area, with a total extent of occurance of around 1000 square kilometers, it has no severe threats and it’s not deemed as an endangered species, mainly because its habitat are often inaccessible. Its habitat is the Karoo ecoregion, where it grows on grasslands, escarpment arid thickets, Tarkastad Montane Shrubland, Escarpment Valley Thicket. It can be found growing on gravelly places and rock crevices and also, occasionally, on flats, at an altitude between 1100 and 1500 meters above the sea level and in areas of high rainfall.
Huernia kennedyana is a small, perennial plant with short, thick stems that are quite similar to the one of cacti, but without any thorn. They are short (5-10 centimeters in height) and globose, like some strange tortoise pats, furrowed with hexagonal bumps, with a white-haired point and markedly-black grooves. If it receives plenty of sunlight, the greish-bluish colour of the stem gets tinged with reddish hues. The main reason why this rare plant is so appreciated among succulent collectors, how ever, are its flowers. Bell-shaped and with a star-shaped corolla, they show a striking, colorful, kind of leopard-print pattern, with yellow, white and purplish-red numerous, dots and blurs. The dominant colour is yellow. H. kennediana has also like an inner corolla, made of thin, wiry protuberances pointing inwards in the corolla tube.
Huernias are very easy to grow, but it’s not so easy to make them bloom: they in fact need to find themselves in ideal conditions to bloom. Here below are our tips:
Huernia kennedyana enjoys direct sunlight, so put it in a bright spot, as long as it’s sheltered from sun rays during the hottest hours of summer days. In Spring, it is happy with partial shade, and in Winter with plenty of light.
In general, Huernias must stay at temperatures above 5 ° C, however some authors suggest that H. kennedyana in particular can tolerate short frosts (temperatures at 0ºC) for a little while, if its substrate is maintained completely dry. By the way, to stay safe, Huernia kennedyana, in particular, is happy with Winter temperatures of around 10ºC, with plenty of direct sunlight and a completely dry substrate. In Autumn, H. kennedyana can be kept outdoors until the temperature falls below 10ºC.
Watering needs vary during the year: in Spring, when the plant comes out of dormancy, you’ll have to water frequently and abundantly, by soaking the pot in a basin full of water for a few minutes. In Summer, instead, the plant will tolerate heavy rains but also some drought. Watering once a week in summer will be sufficient. Always waite for the soil to dry up completely before each watering.
H. kennedyana needs a well-draining soil: use a substrate specific for succulents or add some perlite to an universal potting mix.
It enjoys some fertilization in summer: use a product specific for succulent, diluting it to half the doses written on the label
Repot once a year in Spring, when the stem covers completely the available surface of the pot.
In Summer, sort out the stems while the plant is resting. It has in fact two dormancy periods: one due to low temperatures in Winter, and one in the hottest, driest time in Summer.
The easiest way to propagate Huernia kennedyana and all Huernias in general is the stem cuttings.
Once detached, cuttings must be left to dry for a few days before being replanted. Next, lay down the cuttings in a gritty, substrate. You can also try with sowing, in Spring in a moist substrate made out of sandy peat moss: by the way, cuttings are undoubtely easier to carry out and the odds of success are higher.
The name “Huernia” comes from Justin Heurnius, a Dutch missionary of XIIth century, who is deemed to have been the first to be interested in collecting and classifying plants from Capo di Buona Speranza.
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