Stephania

Family: Menispermaceae
Habitat: The name Stephania, in Greek, means “crown”: the anthers of its flowers, in fact, are arranged just like a crown.
Cultivation: Beware of the cold, suitable creeper for your balcony!
Curiosity: The name Stephania, in Greek, means “crown”: the anthers of its flowers, in fact, are arranged just like a crown.

KEY FEATURES

Stephania is a genus of herbaceous, perennial and climbing plants belonging to the Menispermaceae family, native to south-east Asia and Australia.

Their natural habitat are deciduous forests on calcareous soil.

The name Stephania, in Greek, means “crown”: the anthers of its flowers, in fact, are arranged just like a crown. The anthers are the male part of the flower, where pollen is present.

Stephanias are herbaceous climbing plants that reach 1 meter in height. They have beautiful, large heart-shaped leaves, with the petiole that attaches almost at the center of the leaf instead of at its end as in other plants. Even the leaf veins depart from the center.

They are plants with caudex: the caudex is an enlargement of the root or the basal part of the stem that serve to store nutrients and water: a remarkable evolutionary expedient that makes plants much more resistant to adversity! It is usually present in species which live in environments with a marked difference between a rainy and a dry season. These plants accumulate water during the rainy season, and then use it when needed in the dry season.

The flowers are small and not so flashy and have 3 to 5 petals. They are distinct in male and female flowers.

Stephanias are not well known yet in the world of ornamental gardening. However, one species, Stephania tetranda, is among the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name of Hang Fang Ji.

VARIETY AND TYPES

Stephanias are not well known yet in the world of ornamental gardening. However, one species, Stephania tetranda, is among the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine, under the name of Hang Fang Ji.

TIPS FOR GROWING

In warm and not excessively humid climates, Stephanias can become the perfect creepers to decorate your balcony.Stephanias, like succulents, require a well-drained soil to grow well. The watering should be regular to keep the substrate moist (but never saturated) during their growing season, Spring and Summer, while in Autumn, when the leaves start to wither, you must gradually reduce the water supply until suspending it: the water accumulated in the caudex will be enough to get your Stephania through the cold season. These plants love the sun, so you will need to place them in a bright position.

  • Beware of the cold: temperatures below 10-16ºC could damage them. Otherwise, greenhouse cultivation will give excellent results.
  • Stephanias, like succulents, require a well-drained soil to grow well.
  • Watering scarce but regular, approximately every 15 days and in any case only when the soil is completely dry. The watering should be regular to keep the substrate moist (but never saturated) during their growing season, Spring and Summer, while in Autumn, when the leaves start to wither, you must gradually reduce the water supply until suspending it: the water accumulated in the caudex will be enough to get your Stephania through the cold season.
  • These plants love the sun, so you will need to place them in a bright position.

Stephanias are propagated by sowing. Sow them at a temperature of about 15-16ºC and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate.

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