If you’re into unusual and rare plants like me, then Stephania Erecta might just be the plant for you.
Botanically known as Stephania pierrei Diels, the plant was originally known as Stephania erecta and later reclassified to honor a French botanist, Jean Baptiste Louis Pierre.
However, most people across the world still commonly refer to the plant with the old scientific name.
While you can grow this masterpiece of a plant outdoors, it does thrive as a houseplant in pots.
Furthermore, it’s always a good idea to have other houseplants since S.erecta will often shade off the leaves when the temperatures drop below a certain point.
Luckily, with the right information and care tips, you can easily grow these plants in any house environment.
In this post, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about growing Stephania erecta indoors.
What’s Stephania erecta Plant?
S. pierrei, also known as S. erecta, is an unusual caudiciform plant with a stem swollen like a round ball and up to 1 foot (30cm) in diameter (You can refer to the featured image for illustration).
It sprouts in spring in a lovely vine growing up to 26 feet (8m) long, with round leaves and yellowish flowers.
Since this plant is deciduous, the foliage will often die back in winter when the temperatures drop to freezing point. Don’t worry when this happens – they’ll come back at the beginning of Spring.
Stephania is one of those unique and visually striking plants. Other plants in this group include, Watermelon Peperomia, ‘Pink Princess’ Philodendron, Cebu Blue Pothos, Philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’, Begonia Maculata, and String of Turtles.
Common name(s): Stephania Erecta, or Binh Voi in Vietnamese
Scientific/Botanical name: Stephania pierrei Diels formerly known as Stephania erecta Craib
USDA Hardiness zones: 10a to 11b
Mature Height: Up to 26 feet long
Mature Spread: 1 to 2 feet wide
Growing habit: Vining
Native Area: Asia (Indo-Chinese Peninsula)
Blooming Time: Flowering in summer with yellowish flowers
Toxicity: Moderately poisonous to pets
A handful of Stephania species including Stephania erecta are poisonous to pets. As for the rest including the popular Stephania tetrandra are non-poisonous.
The good news is that you can still keep your Stephania plants indoors and spray them with Bodhi Dog Bitter Lemon Spray which is effective in discouraging your pets from chewing on the plants.
How to Propagate Stephania erecta Plant
Unlike most houseplants that you can easily propagate by leaves or stem cuttings, you can only propagate Stephania erecta by seeds. Here's what you need to know:
Where to Buy Stephania erecta Seeds
You can't buy these seeds in regular stores since they're often unavailable; you need to look for them online. Be careful when buying your seeds because there are a lot of sellers that sell "fake" Stephania erecta seeds.
The best way to make sure that you're not getting scammed is to look for the seller's reviews and ratings to establish their reputation.
The Right Location for Growing Stephania erecta Seeds
Stephania seeds need a lot of warmth to sprout so it's best to germinate them in an area that has comfortable room temperature.
Because of this, the best places to grow these seeds are in a room with an average temperature of around 80°F (27 °C).
The warmth will not only make it easier for your Stephania erecta seeds to germinate but as well as speed up their growth.
You can also use a heating pad under half of the soil if you don't have a warm area in your house.
Soaking your seeds to break the dormancy
To make sure that the seeds get a head-start in germination, it's best to soak them overnight before planting them. You can do this by placing them in a glass of water and letting them sit there all night.
Sowing/Planting the Seeds
There are lots of ways to sow your Stephania seeds, but one of the best is by using seed starter soil.
If you don't have seed starter soil available in your area, you can use regular potting soil, but make sure that it has a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. This is the perfect level for your erecta seeds to germinate and grow into healthy plants.
Expected Germination Time
If you've done everything well, you should expect germination and emergence in about two weeks.
If you have healthy seeds, most of them will sprout so don't be surprised to see a few seeds not sprouting even after three or four weeks.
Transplanting the Seedlings
You can plant your Stephania erecta seedlings on a bigger pot or a container if you want. You can also plant them on the ground but make sure that the place is well-drained and has a lot of sunlight.
It's best to transplant them when they're about 2 inches high since they will grow stronger this way, but it doesn't matter where to plant them as long as you provide the seedlings with a lot of warmth and sunlight.
How to Plant Stephania erecta bulbs in Pots
What You Need:
- You'll need a pot that's at least 12 inches in diameter and that has holes on the bottom for drainage. Make sure that you choose a pot with a depth of 8 to 10 inches.
- You will also need quality potting soil, a measuring tape, a utility knife, and an empty pot that you can use as storage.
Steps to Plant Your Stephania Erecta Bulbs
Choose the right location for planting. You need to find a spot where your plants can get at least 6 hours of sunlight (or more) per day.
If growing indoors, you can use an indoor grow light to supplement the light requirement.
Step 1: Fill your pot with soil.
Measure the depth of the pot and fill it with enough soil up to the measurement you want, leaving an inch or two left at the top.
The more space that's left, the easier it'll be for you to plant your bulb in the middle of your pot.
Step 2: Choose the biggest bulb.
Ideal Stephania erecta bulbs are about 1 to 2 inches in diameter; you need to dig a hole that's equal to or slightly bigger than your bulb so they won't fall over when you water them.
Step 3: Place the bulb on the center of your pot and backfill with soil.
Make sure that your bulb is upright and that it's covered with soil up to its shoulders (where the area where the stem starts).
If there are any air pockets in your pot, you can use a stick or pencil to push some of the soil aside until all of them are filled.
Step 4: Water the planted bulb thoroughly.
You need to make sure that water goes through the pot in order to effectively water your bulbs. You can mix in some fertilizer with the soil if you want, but this is optional.
How to Care for Your Stephania erecta
Provide the Necessary Temperature & Humidity
Stephania erecta is a subtropical plant, which means that it likes warm weather.
If you want your plants to grow faster and healthier, place them somewhere where the temperature will be around 70°F or higher for at least 6 hours every day.
You should also make sure that there's enough humidity in the area where you are growing your plant.
Stephanias like humidity around 50 to 80%, but make sure that it's not too humid or too dry because this can cause the leaves of your plants to wilt and eventually fall off.
You can use an indoor plant humidifier to increase the level of humidity around your houseplants.
Expose the Plants to Adequate Light
Stephania erecta is a type of plant that loves a lot of sun, so you should find a place where they will get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day.
If growing indoors, a good option is to use fluorescent grow lights since these emit the type of light that plants need in order to function properly.
Watering Your Stephania erecta Plants
Stephania needs water, but it doesn't like to get wet.
You need to make sure that the soil is moist before watering your plants because leaving them dry can cause them to wilt and eventually fall off.
However, if you see your plant's leaves turning dark green or yellowish, this means that they aren't getting enough water and it's time to water them.
Stephanias can grow very well even without being fertilized because they are naturally healthy, but giving them fertilizer just makes them stronger and healthier.
Fertilizers will make your plants stay green and more resistant to diseases, so it's a good idea to do this whenever possible.
Hence, you should fertilize your plants once every two weeks, but only during the springtime when the plants are actively growing.
Trimming Your Plants
You can prune your Stephania every 4 weeks or so in order to keep them from getting too big. This is a great way for you to control the size of the plants and to make them look better.
To trim your plants, you can cut each stem individually or you can pinch off the ends of all the branches at once. This is because pinching off all of them will promote new growth and branching out.
As long as your plants grow quickly and have a healthy number of leaves, there's no need to repot them.
However, if you have a plant that doesn't grow very fast in its pot and has fewer leaves than you think it should have, it might be time to transplant them into a bigger pot.
Pests and Diseases Management
Aphids are the most common type of pests that can attack your Stephania plants, but if you wipe them off with some water, they will eventually disappear.
Other common problems include root rot and leaf spot, which are conditions that make the leaves turn dark brown or black while their centers stay green.
If this happens to your plants, cut away the defective leaves and then remove the entire plant from its pot.
You can also mix in some fungicide with your soil or spray it evenly on the leaves to prevent leaf spot from forming. If you're diligent about doing this, your plants should grow as normal and as healthy as ever.
Other Common Problem(s)
Stephania erecta Leaves Turning Yellow
The most common reason why this happens is that your plant isn't getting enough sunlight, so you should place it in a location where it can get at least 6 hours of sunlight every day.
You'll also want to add some fertilizer because this too will help your plant grow new leaves that aren't turning yellow.
If these two things don't work, your plant might have a serious problem with root rot or leaf spot.
When this happens you will need to repot the plant as fast as possible and then remove the entire thing from its pot. This is because it will be impossible for the plant to grow new leaves if they are already yellow.
Harvesting and Storing Stephania Plant Bulbs
Stephania erecta bulbs are harvested at the end of summer after their leaves turn brown.
When harvesting, you can remove them from their pots by gently bending the stem and then pulling it out. This might take a little bit of effort because they tend to be tightly rooted in their soil.
After this, you should place your bulbs in a dry and well-ventilated area until fall, when they will be ready for you to replant.
Dry and well-ventilated areas include places like basements or garages that aren't flooded with too much light.
You can put your bulbs in mesh bags to store them easily if you need to leave them somewhere for a long period of time.
When you're ready to replant them, you have to plant each bulb just as they are.
This means that they aren't separated into individual cloves or planted in any type of special soil.
They will usually sprout leaves again by the end of summer and grow bulbs on their own by the next year if you have planted them in a suitable environment.
Growing Tips summary
- Place your Stephania erecta in an area that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight every day.
- Fertilize them once every two weeks during the spring.
- Prune your plants once every four weeks to make sure they stay healthy and under control.
- Repot your plants once every two to three years when they begin to grow too big in their current pot.
- Remove plants from their pots immediately if they show signs of root rot or leaf spot.
To conclude, growing Stephania plants is very easy and all you have to do is follow the right steps as outlined in today's post.
If you have any questions about how to grow your Stephania plant or if you want to share your own experiences growing them, please post in the comment section below.
(Note: If you are not interested in growing this plant or don't even know what it is, then just ignore this article. It will be boring :-)).