Succulents

Ceropegia Sandersonii Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Parachute Plant”

Complete guide to Ceropegia Sandersonii for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting and caring for "Parachute Plant"
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Ceropegia sandersonii, commonly known as the Umbrella Flower or Parachute plant, is a variety of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae (from Apocynum, the Greek word for “dog-away”). These plants belong to the “dogbane family” because some species were used as dog poison.

Ceropegia Sandersonii is native to regions in southeastern and southern Africa (Mozambique, South Africa). Other common names of Ceropegia sandersonii are Parachute plant, Fountain flower, Giant ceropegia, Sanderson’s Ceropegia thanks to its flowers that have a bizarre parachute or fountain form.

The Umbrella Plant has gained its reputation as a great houseplant for its unique appearance and for being easy to grow and care for, even by novice gardeners.

Its beautifully long trailing stems and remarkable flowers make it a perfect choice for hanging baskets. You can decorate your porch with this climbing plant, but it will require a trellis or other support on which to cling.

Fun fact to know about the Parachute Plant: this succulent-like plant traps the insects that enter through the “windows” in its petals. Once the insects are covered in pollen, this clever houseplant will release them to complete their pollination duties. The insects are usually released once the flower reaches the end of its life, and the fine hairs that trap the insect, are weakened.

About Ceropegia sandersonii

  • Ceropegia sandersonii is an evergreen perennial, with slender twining stems that produces heart-shaped leaves and solitary green parachute-shaped flowers.
  • The bizarrely light-green and white pipe-shaped flowers are 5 to 7 cm (2-2,7 inches) long and are placed on its delicate stalks.
  • The Ceropegia sandersonii is a wonderful houseplant that can bring any gloomy corner in your house to live. However, it must be placed in an area where it can receive enough light.
  • The Ceropegias can be excellent presents for your loved ones and they make for amazing home and office decorations. These lovely houseplants are surely worth the effort, and the results will be outstanding.
  • In temperate regions, these delicate plants are cultivated as houseplants, indoors and outdoors. Be sure to give your Umbrella Plants partial shading and proper amounts of water if you grow them outside.
  • In 2017, Ceropegia has gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, a mark of quality awarded since 1922.
Ceropegia Sandersonii
Ceropegia Sandersonii

Ceropegia sandersonii Features: An Overview

  • The Ceropegia Sandersonii, also named Parachute plant or Lantern plant, is a fascinating insectivorous plant that originally comes from South Africa.
  • The plant has received is interesting nicknames from the characteristic shape of its flowers, which look like tiny parachutes or lanterns.
  • The flowers, the strangest feature of Ceropegia, are green with yellow or brown spots, about 5-7 cm long, with a tube at the base.
  • The petals of the Ceropegia blooms are joined at their tips, forming a kind of windowed canopy. The openings between the petals are also referred to as windows and that’s why the blooms are sometimes referred to as windowed flowers.
  • The plant usually produces around 2-4 flowers on each stem.
  • The flowers of the Ceropegia have a pleasant citrus scent.
  • The Umbrella Plant A.k.a. Giant ceropegia produces the largest flower in the genus and is justly valued for its stunning appearance. The green flowers and heart-shaped leaves make this plant easy to identify.
  • The Umbrella plant is a prostrate or erect trailing or climbing plant (liane), twining on the vegetation, sometimes reaching a height of 4 m (13 feet).
  • The plant produces a cluster of narrow spindle-shaped tuberous roots.
  • Ceropegia sandersonii has fleshy, nearly hairless, and mostly leafless stems, twining to 2 m (6 feet) long and about 5 mm thick.
  • The leaves are simple, heavy, 2 to 5 cm long, 1,2 to 2,5 cm wide, grow in pairs along the slight stem, and are ovate or heart-shaped. The new leaves are grass-green, with a stalk that’s 6 mm long.
  • The flowers of the Ceropegia have an interesting function. They trap the flies when they descent into the corolla tube. Small hairs prevent the insects from escaping. The victims are pollinated and released when the flowers wither and the hairs loosen.
  • The Ceropegia sandersonii attracts Desmometopa flies of the family Milichiidae by mimicking the scent of a hurt honeybee, tricking the flies into pollinating.
  • The blooming seasons are summer and autumn.
  • The Parachute plants are perfectly safe for pets and children.
Parachute plant
Parachute plant

Growing Ceropegia Sandersonii

Ceropegia sandersonii thrives in tropical or subtropical conditions. It is admired by many gardeners ad used as an ornamental vine, as a nice hanging plant, or as a climbing indoor plant.

Give the Umbrella plant a well-lit spot, but make sure it doesn’t get too much direct sunlight as the hot afternoon sun can burn its leaves. Ceropegia grows best in partial shade or filtered sun.

Ceropegia sandersonii likes warmth, so the ideal temperatures are between 16 to 24°C.

This plant does best when it spends the summer outdoors in the same thick shadow that rhododendrons enjoy. Each spring, the plant sends up new expansion from its roots. New stems give rise to a parade of spectacular flowers. The vine may grow up to 3,6 m (12 feet) long over a summer outside.

At the end of summer or sometimes during the fall, before you move the plant back into the house, give it a good trim. Don’t let the Ceropegia outside during the cold winter months, as this plant cannot tolerate low temperatures. Move the plant inside and water it sparingly until spring. The plant will continue to grow slowly through the winter.

The Umbrella plant can tolerate high temperatures to 45° C, but the prolonged cold will damage or kill the plant.

Ceropegia sandersonii likes a rich, porous, well-drained soil mix, with extra leaf mold but it is worth mentioning that these plants aren’t usually picky when it comes to their soil.

Provide your Ceropegia sandersonii with new potting soil every 2-3 years. If necessary, repot the plant in a larger container when you observe that the roots have occupied almost entirely the pot. Otherwise, refreshing the soil partially is more than enough.

In most stores, you’ll find this plant potted and arranged on a frame as a climbing plant. If the stems get too long or become a little unpleasant, you can prune them back to the desired length. New branches will naturally grow and this will encourage flowering.

The Ceropegia sandersonii can be attacked by scale insects and mealybugs.

Watering Ceropegia Sandersonii

The Ceropegia sandersonii is a succulent-like plant and it doesn’t need large amounts of water. It’s usually recommended to water it once a week and let the soil dry slightly again between waterings.

One of the most essential things to know about Umbrella plants is that they need well-draining soil, so an effective soil mix is necessary. Choose a soil with chunky particles so that water can flow more freely, such as a succulent and cacti soil mix that has one-third sand.

During the growing season (March-August), the plants need to be watered regularly, making sure that their soil doesn’t dry out completely. In summer, you can give mist them lightly to rinse the dust off their leaves. Avoid misting the flowers as they are quite sensitive to water.

From September until January, watering should be restricted to about once a week. Night temperatures at this time should be about 10° C. In January or February, stop watering the plant for 4 weeks. In March, regular watering is resumed.

The Ceropegias can be fertilized every few weeks with a balanced, half-strength fertilizer during the active growing phase, through spring and summer. Winter is a resting period for most plants, so stop feeding your Ceropegia and let it rest. Too much fertilizer can lead to the burning of the roots. It’s recommended to check the fertilizer’s package and to follow the instructions.

Propagating Ceropegia sandersonii

The Umbrella plant can easily be propagated by stem cuttings or by seeds (rarely), in the spring.

The easiest way to propagate the Umbrella plant is by cutting a small stem with a few leaves from the parent plant. Then, plant the tiny stem into a pot in a well-draining sand mixture. The plant needs to be placed in a well-lit area, at a temperature of 22-25ºC.

If you want to propagate Ceropegias from seeds, it will help to know that these plants will sometimes produce fruits after they bloom. The fruits contain silky, tufted seeds. The seeds need to be collected and sown in well-drained compost. Ideally, they will germinate in 14 to 28 days, at 18 to 21° C.

In Conclusion

The Umbrella plant is a wonderful houseplant if you are looking for something easy to take care of. This plant will grow healthy and happy without too much trouble. Its appearance is unique with heart-shaped leaves and weird, attractive parachute shaped flowers.

The Ceropegia sandersonii will grow throughout the year as long as it has the right conditions and proper care. The most important factors to consider when growing this succulent-like plant indoors are proper watering and adequate lighting.

This plant blooms easily and it is suitable for terrariums and as an air purifier. Given that it flowers all year round, you’ll surely be delighted by this floral bonus.

Your Ceropegia will not only be a spectacular decoration to liven up your home but can also make a wonderful gift for family members or for a significant other.

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Miruna Secuianu

Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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