potting your Stephania Erecta
3 minute read

DIY: potting and growing your own Stephania erecta

Are you an experienced plant parent who is up for a challenge? Then you and the Stephania erecta are the perfect match. With your green fingers, you can transform this large 'potato' into perfection!

The Stephania erecta is a tuberous plant that you grow yourself from a potato-like bulb into a beautiful climbing plant with characteristic coin-shaped leaves. She grows during spring and summer, but in wintertime, she drops her leaves and goes dormant. Stephania then has a nice, long sleep and doesn’t wake up till spring arrives. Oh, what a life - we envy her. In this blog, we’ll explain how to pot your erecta bulb and help you grow a beautiful plant out of your bulb.

Stephania erecta

The Stephania erecta is native to the tropical forests of Asia and Australia, where she grows in peat moss and likes to swing up against trees. She thrives best in high humidity and likes a warm, light spot, but no direct sunlight. Once she starts growing, this adventurer will climb to great heights! You definitely make her happy by giving her some climbing support.

Potting your Stephania erecta

Bath time

Welcome your Stephania erecta home with a nice, warm bath! Let the bulb soak in warm water for about 24 hours.

Make the bed

Choose a well-drained soil mixture, like cacti soil. To increase the drainage, you can add small stones into the potting mix. Always use a pot with drainage holes through which excess water can drain away – Stephania definitely doesn’t like wet feet!

Tuck her in

Place the bottom of the bulb about 20% into the potting mix and leave the rest sitting above the soil. Make sure not to bury the bulb completely. You can add some small stones or pebbles on top of the soil to support the caudex. Are you not sure what side is up? Look for a woody nub or a small dry circle – this is the side that must stay upwards.

Make her feel at home

Stephania just loves humidity. She will feel more at home if you place her inside a plastic back or under a plant dome. This will increase humidity and encourage growth.

Time for a (small) drink

The Stephania Erecta is a sensitive type that does not like wet feet at all. You could even say that she has a slight fear of water. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the ‘potato’ itself never gets wet. Only pour the water over the potting soil and not over the caudex. Water her sparingly. Until you see growth, she hardly needs any water at all. Just make sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely.

Be patient

The Stephania erecta likes to test your patience a bit. Not only does she drop her beautiful leaves every winter, but it can also take quite a while before she sprouts. After you place the bulb in the soil for the first time, it can take a few weeks up to a few months before she sprouts. But believe us, it’s worth the wait!

Is she.. dead?

Is your Stephania looking sad and is she dropping her leaves? No worries, she’s just fine! During autumn and winter, the Stephania erecta drops her beautiful round leaves. She prepares herself for hibernation and saves her strength so she can climb to great heights again when spring arrives.

As soon as she drops her leaves, it is important to give her less and less water. When she has lost all her leaves and goes into hibernation, all she really wants is to be left alone. We can relate; nothing more annoying than being woken up when you are peacefully asleep, right?! Just leave the bulb in the soil, but stop watering her. She feeds on the water and nutrients that she stores in her bulb and doesn’t need any water until she wakes up again in spring and starts developing new growth. After this period of hibernation, she feels like reborn – literally. When spring arrives, she should come bigger and more beautiful than ever!

Good to know: every Stephania Erecta on the European market is poached!

Stephania erecta is truly a trend in the houseplant world. The hype surrounding the Stephania erecta has led wholesalers to start buying this beautiful plant/tuber for the European market. However, both experts and sellers now agree that they were most likely all collected from the wild.

Rogier van Vugt, Head of the Greenhouses at the Botanical Gardens in Leiden has therefore also said; "they have probably all been poached". Plant poaching is the removal of plants from their natural habitat. In the case of the Stephania Erecta, it is not illegal for local sellers in Thailand to collect the caudex plants, because in principle they are not endangered. However, the plant community generally considers it unethical to buy or sell plants that have been ripped from the wild! This is because of the harmful long-term effects that poaching can have on the population of certain species.

We completely agree and that is the reason why we do not sell the Stephania Erecta anymore. Nevertheless, if you have this caudex plant in your home, it is important to take good care of her and enjoy her even more. Give her a nice home!


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August 30, 2022