The Stephania Erecta is an odd plant and very recognizable due to the bulb, or caudex, at the base of the plant. It is a gorgeous house plant that is a great choice for sprucing up an office or lounge. While not difficult to take care of, there are some concerns regarding light and water.
This article covers:
- What Stephania Erecta is and what it looks like
- How to care for it properly with the right amount of water, light, and humidity
- Common problems and what to do about them
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Table of Contents
What is Stephania Erecta?
Stephania Erecta is a caudex plant, which means it has a bulbous mass at the end of the stem that looks kind of like a potato or stone.
The plant also has long vines that come out of the caudex. The leaves are shaped like circles and have a pleasant green color with white veins to contrast in color and delicate appearance.
The plant is native to Thailand and the Indo-Chinese Peninsula. It grows naturally in thickets and forests with plenty of soil and not a lot of competition for vegetation space. The soil it naturally loves is full of laterite, ferric, or aluminum oxide, which gives it a reddish tint.
It is noticeably different in appearance from many other common houseplants, which makes it a great conversation starter that provides a unique aesthetic.
Check out this cool video about all the other Stephania plants to compare them with the Stephania Erecta variety:
How to Care for Stephania Erecta
There are some considerations when caring for this unique plant, but as long as you can give it the right conditions then you can promote healthy growth and distinct coloration.
The most important factors are light, soil, and water, but you also need to keep humidity, fertilizer, and other features in mind to encourage lovely growth.
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Stephania Erecta plants need quite a bit of light to grow healthily. However, it is important to note that the leaves are delicate and cannot withstand bright direct sunlight because it can scorch the leaves, fade their coloration, and injure their health.
Limited direct sunlight can be okay, but you don’t want it to be shining on the plant all day.
It is best to aim for around 4 to 6 hours of indirect sun per day. You can use curtains and other forms of shading to filter the light so that it can’t harm your Stephania Erecta plant. We recommend placing the plant near a window that faces toward the southeast, if possible.
The Stephania Erecta plant is prone to overwatering, so you need to make sure that you do not water it too often. Typically, once per week is plenty, but it could be as low as once every 10 days during the growing season.
Once the Fall and Winter hit, then you may only have to give it more water every 15 to 20 days.
Too much water can cause rotting of the bulb as well as other issues. Before watering, you want to feel the top layers of soil to make sure they are completely dry first.
If they aren’t, then you need to wait a little longer before watering. The first sign of underwatering is usually crisp and brown leaves. Too much overwatering can cause wilting and yellow leaves.
Temperature and Humidity
This plant isn’t too picky when it comes to temperature and is comfortable in the ranges that you probably already have in your home. Typically, you want to keep the temperature in a range from 6 1ot 79 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can still live through more extreme temperatures.
However, you never want it to experience frost or freezing temperatures, which can quickly kill the plant.
The plant prefers some humidity and doesn’t do well in very dry climates, but somewhere between 50 and 80% humidity is sufficient.
Too little or too much humidity can cause the plant’s leaves to droop, wilt, and fall off. You never want the plant too close to air conditions, vents, and heaters.
To grow your Stephania Erecta for full foliage and distinct coloration, you will need to choose well-draining soil. This also ensures that the moisture does not remain around the plant too long, which can lead to root rot, fungus, and other problems.
The caudex retains moisture on its own so you don’t need to try to retain the moisture within the soil.
You can simply use soil mixtures made for succulents and cacti with Stephania Ererecta, but you can also make your own mixture of soil. To make your own potting mix, use three parts of potting soil with 2 parts of sand and 1 part perlite.
This ensures nutrition but also allows for optimal drainage.
Stephania Erecta does not require a lot of fertilization and it is actually susceptible to over-fertilizing which can harm the plant or even kill it. During the Spring and Summer months you will want to fertilize every 30 to 60 days or so, but never more than once per month.
You do not need to fertilize during the winter and doing so can do more harm than good.
Too much fertilizer can cause a build-up of salt within the soil that can stunt growth and impede moisture and nutrient access. You can use any house plant liquid fertilizer, but since it can harm the plant you should dilute it to 50% strength.
The Stephania Erecta species grows slowly, so you won’t need to do a lot of pruning or repotting, but trimming it can keep it more compact and attractive. The width of the bulb is usually between 5o to 8 inches, but should not take up more than ⅔ of the pot or you should get a bigger vessel.
During the Spring, the plant can provide yellowish flowers that are quite lovely, but this may not start during the first few years of life.
During the Winter, the Stephania Erecta will go into a dormant phase and drop all or almost all of the leaves and foliage that you love so much. Don’t worry it will all grow back before too long.
It is possible to prevent this if it still gets plenty of sunlight, humidity, and warmth, but it is part of the plant’s natural cycle. Don’t take it as a sign that it needs more water or fertilizer.
Common Problems with Stephania Erecta
There are some common problems that you may run into when growing your Stephania Erecta plant. Issues like pests, diseases, discoloration, and wilting can all be addressed fairly easily, so let’s look at what you should do if you notice one of these problematic factors.
Dry and Crisp Leaves
This is caused by underwatering or low humidity and is usually an easy fix. While you may not be able to recover all the leaves, many of them will likely get back to their normal attractive selves once you start adding more water or humidity into the routine.
Remember though that the plant does lose its leaves during dormancy, so if you notice leaves dying off in the late Fall or Winter, that is normal.
Yellow leaves are often caused by overwatering, but it can also be caused by too much sunlight or direct sunlight.
Make sure that you provide some sort of shade throughout the day because more than a couple of hours of direct sunlight in a day can scorch the leaves and cause them to turn yellow.
There are some types of pests that can infest your wonderful house plant. The most common for Stephania Erecta are spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and whiteflies. You can usually inspect the leaves to determine an infestation.
For example, white and yellow patches are a sign of spider mites or mealybugs.
To address the problem, you can mix alcohol with water and spray or dab the bugs. You can also use insecticidal soap to wash off the leaves. However, a solution that doesn’t cause any problems, is easy to use and eradicates most pests is neem oil.
Root rot and basal rot are both diseases that can impact your Stephania Erecta plant. If you use too much water, the excessive moisture can make it more vulnerable to disease and fungus growth.
With root rot and basal rot, you will want to replace the soil and pot and remove any portions of the plant that seem impacted, including yellow leaves. Also, try to avoid keeping infected plants with other house plants because the infestation or bacteria can spread.
Final Thoughts on Stephania Erecta
Stephania Erecta plants are wonderful, unique, and interesting and they are also not too hard to take care of. You will usually be able to keep your normal temperature and humidity found in your home and simply water the plant once every 7 to 10 days.
Just be sure to keep an eye out for discoloration, pests, disease, and other problems. You are sure to love the wonderful vines and circular leaves that give this plant lots of character.