How to Care for a Lifesaver Plant


Native to Africa, lifesaver plants (Huernia spp.) have vibrant burgundy and yellow star-shaped flowers with thick centers. Lifesaver plants received their common name because the flower center resembles the hard candy of the same name. Plant stalks can grow up to 6 inches high; they feature pointy looking spines that are actually soft to the touch. Grow outdoors in a subtropical or tropical climate, or indoors in colder areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Cactus fertilizer
  • Container
  • Cactus potting soil
  • Place your plant in full sun in temperate areas, but provide some shade if you live in USDA plant hardiness zone 10 or warmer. Lifesaver plants grown indoors need a full sun location, such as a south-facing window, and protection from drafts.

  • Water your plant to wet the soil when the dirt feels dry to the touch 1 inch below the surface. Maintain this schedule from the spring to the fall, then water less frequently during the dormant period. When your plant resumes growth in the spring, go back to the more frequent watering schedule. Do not overwater this plant.

  • Move indoor plants outside for the spring and summer to promote growth. Place in a light shade to full sun location. Water as normal, and move the plant back inside when temperatures fall to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Fertilize your lifesaver plant with a cactus fertilizer in the spring. Apply the right dose range based on the size of your plant.

  • Transplant your lifesaver into a new container when it outgrows its old one, as evidenced by crowding in the pot or roots coming out through drainage holes. Choose the next size up container and repot with a cactus potting soil.

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