Stephania erecta (Rare): Care and Propagation

Plants not only provide oxygen but also have aesthetic value. Use of plants for aesthetic purposes in indoor cultivation has been increasing day by day. Their mesmerising beauty has made the indoor environment more realistic. You can use numerous plants for indoor cultivation. Stephania erecta is one the beautiful species that you have as indoor plants. Let’s explore Stephania erecta. 

Stephania Erecta

The word Stephania originates from the greek letter “a crown” which reflects the arrangement of anther i.e. the anther are arranged in crown like manner. Stephania erecta is a caudiciform plant i.e. they form thick, swollen stems and above ground roots. Talking about its origin, it is native to Thailand and is a tropical plant. The genus Stephania erecta is a flowering plant in the family Menispermaceae. These herbaceous perennials may attain the height of 4 metre.

This plant has dark brown caudex that resembles the potato. Since it looks like a chubby potato, this plant is also called a potato plant.

Stephania Erecta

This plant Stephania erecta is a herbaceous perennial with twining stems that can go upto 8 metre in length. The tuber of this plant may measure 30 cm in diameter. Usually the tuber sprouts in spring producing round leaves and yellowish flowers. Since the plant is deciduous the leaves will die during winter when the frost prevails.

Botanical classification

         Kingdom: Plantae

         Clade: Tracheophyte

        Order: Ranunculales

          Family: Menispermaceae

         Genus: Stephania

          Species: erecta

Plant Characters

Leaves

Stephania Erecta

Anthurium erecta have beautiful and delicate leaves. Leaves are generally circular in shape, a little bit resembling an umbrella and dark green in colour. Veins are usually white and venation is parallel.

Flower

This plant usually flowers during the spring and summer. This erecta plant forms a yellowish flower. The anthers of flowers are arranged like a crown.

Seed

The Seeds of this plant are brownish in colour. Little spiny appearance is also seen in the seed.

Stephania Erecta Propagation

Propagation can be carried out either by seed or bulb.

1. Seed Propagation

More warmth is required for the germination of erecta seed. So, any place with around 27 degree celsius temperature is suitable for seed germination. This warmth also speeds up the plant growth. It is better to soak the seed overnight to ensure proper germination. Potting mixture with Ph 6-7 is suitable for sowing the seed. Germination may occur in two weeks. When the plant reaches the height of 2 inches, it can be planted in a pot of greater diameter.

2. Bulb

Stephania Erecta Propagation

Stephania erecta can also be propagated through a bulb. For this you should have a pot of at least 12 inches diameter. Quality potting is must for bulb propagation

i) First choose the pot of appropriate diameter and fill it with a good potting mixture.

ii) Select the bulb of 1-2 inch diameter and make a similar sized hole in the pot.

iii) Always place the bulb in the centre of the pot and cover it with soil.

iv) Water the planted bulb regularly.

Places to grow

The Stephania plant performs well in indirect sunlight. So, the spots receiving indirect sunlight are most suitable. Spaces around the windows where filtered light prevails are suitable spots for placing the plant. The windows facing southeast direction are most suitable for the Stephania plant. This plant can also be placed in the bathroom or kitchen during winter to ensure required humidity. Lumbering of the plant may occur at low light conditions. So, at this condition artificial lighting can be used by using LED bulbs.

Growth Habits

It is a slow growing plant. To attain the height of 3 feet, it takes years. It forms umbrella shaped leaves after attaining the proper height. The wild Stephania can attain the height of 4-5 feet. It prefers bright indirect sunlight and warm temperature.

Is It rare?

This plant resembling potato with adorable leaves and stem is a rare plant that is booming in popularity in recent days.

Toxicity

Stephania erecta is poisonous to many pet animals. However, with anti-chew spray, you can prevent them from chewing the erecta plant. Vomiting and nausea may occur if the plant parts are eaten. If the plant parts are consumed in large quantities medical assistance may be required.

Care and Management

Sunlight

Stephania erecta plant prefers bright indirect sunlight. It can also perform well in limited light conditions. However , indirect sunlight is essential for normal growth and development of plants.

Temperature

This is a warm loving plant. So, ensure adequate warmth for its proper growth and development. The favourable temperature range is 16-26 degree celsius. The temperature should not be below 15 degree celsius at any period of time. Below this temperature the plant may become stunted, yellowing of leaves and flower drop may occur. It is easier to meet the ideal temperature during summer. However, during winter the required temperature should be maintained by artificial means.

Soil

Since the plant stores water in a bulb, it does not require high water holding soil.

Loam type soil having ph 6-7 is preferred by this plant. Soil with high clay content is not suitable for this plant.

Water

Stephania erecta plant has a xerophytic character as it stores water in its bulb and hence it is susceptible to overwatering. So, avoid over watering. Watering the plant in a 10 days interval during growing seasons and in winter in 15-20 days is sufficient. Underwatering is also harmful as it makes leaves brown and crispy while wilting and yellowing symptoms are observed under excess water conditions.

Fertilisers

Overfertilization is harmful for this plant as it may lead to toxicity. So, this plant does not require frequent fertilisation. Application of liquid fertiliser one or twice a month during the growing season is sufficient.

Do not fertilise the plant during winter after the leaves turn yellow and drop down. This will allow the plant to enter into the dormant phase.

Humidity

A humidity of 60% or even more is preferred by Stephania. Unless this humidity level is made, you should have the provision of an artificial humidifier. Humidity tray can be used in order to maintain the required humidity. Misting of foliage frequently is also found effective in maintaining humidity.

Potting and repotting

Potting is an important practice for indoor cultivation.You should choose pot and potting mixture wisely. For potting of Stephania erecta, you should follow the following steps:

  • The bulb should be soaked in water before 24 hour of planting in soil.
  • Then select a pot of suitable size with an adequate drainage hole.
  • Now prepare the potting mixture. Soils with high water holding capacity are not considered good for this plant. You can use sandy type soil for this plant as the plant stores water in a bulb.
  • You can put the pebbles at the base of the pot to facilitate drainage. And two-thirds of the soil is filled with soil.
  • The overnight soaked bulb is placed on the pot and is covered with soil. Generally half part of the bulb is covered. Never cover the bulb fully as this will facilitate rapid root formation and you have to repot the plant within a short period of time.
  • Individual bulbs should be planted in their own pot and should not be planted closer.
  • Water the plant in a weekly interval and the plant should be placed in a warm and humid place.
  • Foliage growth can be seen after one or two month.

Repotting is an important intercultural operation. Generally repotting is done to avoid pot bound conditions and to facilitate plant’s normal growth and development. Since, Stephania erecta is a slow grower, you can repot it once every three year. Always keep in mind that while repotting pots with larger diameter than previous should be used.

Harvesting Of Stephania Erecta Bulbs

As winter commences, the Stephania plant sheds its leaves and the plant enters into dormancy. As the plant enters into the dormant phase, you can simply pull out the bulb. Before pulling, you can water the soil to make it loose.

The bulbs are kept in a dry and well ventilated area and are stored in a mesh bag. In the spring, these bulbs are used for planting.

Price

Price varies according to place and time. The Stephania bulb may cost upto $18.95 or even more.

Common Diseases and Pests

Aphids, Spider mites, White flies and Mealybugs are the common insects of this crop. Powdery mildew, Root rot and leaf spot are the major diseases attacking this crop.

Pros

This is a deciduous perennial plant that can be grown with little care. It has got adorable leaves with tuber resembling the potato.

Cons

This plant is toxic to various pet animals like cats and dogs, even to young babies. Also, it is attacked by several pests and diseases. Not only this, but the plant requires relatively longer time for growth and development.

Conclusion

Stephania erecta whose bulb resembles that of potato is gaining popularity due to its adorable leaves. This is a deciduous perennial plant requiring relatively warmer conditions but prefers indirect sunlight.

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