Sunday, July 14, 2013

WOULD YOU GREET YOUR GUESTS WITH THIS PLANT?

For years I struggled to find a suitable plant for the planter on my front gate. No sun, sheltered from rain and plenty of heat. That amounts to tough conditions. What else would do well in such a spot but a succulent and I found one which brought with it the added bonus of a draping habit.


The plant is Red dragon flower, Huernia schneideriana, a native of Masagascar, South Africa. This is one of my easy care plants as long as I keep it out of the sun. I can leave it untended for weeks on end and although it might become a little shrunken will quickly soak up a drink of water. As summer progresses its tresses become longer and longer. Side branches form which are easily potted up in preparation for new plantings next year.


This is a member of the Asclepiadaceae to which belong the Stapelias. For this reason you might expect the flowers to have a smell of rotting flesh and sometimes called carrion plants because the smell they emit attracts flies which pollinate the flowers.


Would a visitor passing through the gate bend to sniff one of the pretty blood-red flowers? I do hope not becasue rotting flesh is what they would smell. But you do have to get really close to get a whiff.

12 comments:

  1. What a cool plant! I might be one who was tempted to sniff the flowers, if I hadn't already read your post. Love those fleshy, spiky arms waving about.

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  2. Yes, I would! But only if you can leave it out in winter, or at least have a suitable spiky / tendril-type plant in its place over-winter. The rotting flesh odor up-close to me not a big deal; when my bait stations worked at the old house, one could not miss that.

    Thinking of your prediction - had a great inaugural mountain bike ride from my new place at 100F late this afternoon; a mere 97F back in Abq!

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    1. I have a short memory. What did I predict? Is it Las Vegas or El Paso? Must be Las V as I am sure it was cooler in El Paso yesterday. It certainly is cool in Gallup, NM today!

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  3. What a great plant. I think you've found the perfect place for it....though wouldn't it be great if it smelled like lilacs or something sweet.

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  4. Nice! I assume those spines are harmless? If not that would be the only reason I didn't use this as a "greeting" plant. NIce choice!

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    1. Yes Alan, very soft. I am still searching for the perfect head pot in which to grow it.

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  5. That plant would signal "interesting garden ahead" so, yes, I would leave it where it's happy. Maybe you can post a little sign alongside during its bloom period along the lines of "noses beware".

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  6. I had this plant as "hair" in a head pot on a column beside my front door several years ago. No complaints of odor and I agree that it is so faint as to not be objectionable at all, even by the squeamish. I also had the other plant you mention, with the large carrion flowers, but well away from any doors or windows. It is definitely smelly but an unusual addition to the garden when viewed at a distance. I had mine atop a garden wall.

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  7. Wow - would I ever! That is a show stopper for real. And you're right - a "head" planter will be very droll. Seems I recall seeing bright ceramic head vases in the At West End catalog not too long ago. Don't know if that particular size/type would fit the bill for your spot, but hope you'll be back with more photos once you get one. Too fun.

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  8. Ha, my six year old saw these pictures, and told me 'Mommy, please don't buy that plant! It's spiky!' I, on the other hand, think it's a pretty interesting plant of the kooky variety. (If I had had enough land, I would make a part of the garden that was completely dedicated to weird plants.) And yes, I agree that you desperately need a head planter for it!

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  9. It's something different, which is always a treat!

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  10. I would overlook the smell.

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