H. zebrine is native to Botswana, KwaZulu-Natal, Mozambique, Namibia, Northern Provinces, Swaziland and Zimbabwe where the plant grows in open dry scrubland nad in stony areas
H. zebrine is a wonderful 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, quadrangular arranged in ribs strongly toothed along the margins with tubercles 5 mm long. The stem of the succulent can reach 10 cm in height and 2 cm in diameter. Blooming occurs in Autumn and blossom are borne on short peduncle. Flowers are bell-shaped, facing upwards, five-pointed star shaped. Flowers are wine-red colored on the corolla and yellow with a dense mottling of brown bands on the lobes. The flower gives off an unpleasant smell that resembles the smell of a carcass but which is useful for attracting flies and promoting pollination.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 10°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. 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 a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 15 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow 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 specific 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.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting 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 the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
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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