H. pillansi is native to South Africa in Cape Provinces. In this region the plant can grow in drought conditions and rocky habitat also at high altitudes.
H. pillansi is a succulent belonging to the Asclepiadaceae botanical family. The plant has a clustered stem that can be erect or ascending. The stem is pale green, fleshy, thick, arranged in ribs, toothed along the margins with tubercles 3 mm long. The stem is covered with long hairs. The succulent can reach 15 cm in height and 2 cm in diameter. Blooming occurs from Summer to Autumn and blossom are borne on short peduncle. Flowers are bell-shaped, facing upwards, five-pointed star shaped. Flowers are reddish maroon with irregular yellowish spots. The stem can change hue depending on sun-exposure and climate conditions.
This is a rare plant, easy to cultivate but difficult to blossom. The best sun-exposure is full sunlight, and the plant does not like temperatures below 5 °C so it needs to be placed indoors. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly from May to September: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow to the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specifics fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fast method of propagation is by using cuttings but also by seed it is possible. By cutting you can use the offsets during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase success of propagation you can cut two or more offsets at the same time. For cuttings is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with high level of humidity.
This name comes from Justin Heurnius, a Dutch missionary of XIIth century, who is thought to have been the first to be interested in collecting and classifying the plants of the Capo di Buona Speranza.
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