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Lifesaver Plant

Huernia zebrina

Family: Asclepiadaceae (ass-kle-pee-ad-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Huernia (hew-ERN-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: zebrina (zeb-REE-nuh) (Info)


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Cactus and Succulents

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


under 6 in. (15 cm)


Unknown - Tell us


Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:



Bloom Time:

Mid Summer



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From leaf cuttings

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

By grafting

Seed Collecting:

N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, (2 reports)


Prattville, Alabama

Chandler, Arizona

Clayton, California

Ione, California

Martinez, California

Winchester, California

Deland, Florida

Ocala, Florida

Oldsmar, Florida

Parrish, Florida

Rockledge, Florida

Saint Augustine, Florida

Saint Petersburg, Florida

Valrico, Florida

Winter Springs, Florida

Albany, Georgia

Kapaa, Hawaii

Bronx, New York

Benson, North Carolina

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Columbia, South Carolina

Broaddus, Texas

Dickinson, Texas

Freeport, Texas

Granbury, Texas

League City, Texas

Paris, Texas

Spring, Texas

Sugar Land, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 30, 2015, purpledahlia from Bronx, NY wrote:

we were quite pleasantly surprised by the first bloom yesterday 8/29/15. had no idea it was going to flower. i see two buds behind the first bloom. a very unique little plant. note: we are growing it in a random mix of soils that include the little bit of soil that it came in, which was probably a sandy mix, but the majority is not a cactus mix by any means. so apparently it's very adaptable.


On Oct 1, 2014, hawaiigirl1617 from Kapaa, HI wrote:

I have my first bloom. So excited! Noticed several much smaller ones as well. Purchased from hardware store beginning of summer. In a shallow terra cotta pot. Partial shade with a few hours of full sun. Loving it!


On May 11, 2013, Kicoop from South Venice, FL wrote:

I am blooming in Venice, Florida!


On Jun 9, 2010, Ltehouse from Albany, GA wrote:

This is an intriguing plant for sure. I have seven 'lifesavers' on my plant today and there is a strange looking, pointed, six inch long what I assume is a seed pod growing out of this plant. It's been there for several weeks and I hope to find out soon what is inside of this 'thing' coming up out of the ground.


On May 17, 2010, tvksi from Paris, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

Had one for years but was ill one late fall and unable to get my plants in and lost it to the freeze. Otherwise it is a joy and realy undemanding. The first time it bloomed I was tickled pink! Had never seen anything like it before!


On Nov 5, 2008, debbiesc from Columbia, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

I bought my Lifesaver two years ago at a garden club plant sale and this year it surprised me and bloomed. One of the coolest flowers I have. My plant is planted in a small terracotta plant and stays on my front porch on the southeast side during Spring and Summer, and inside in a south-west exposure during the 3 - 4 months of Winter. I water it when it gets dry, but other than that, it takes minimal care.


On Sep 27, 2005, cactus_lover from FSD
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

The name refers to the zebra-like stripes on the flowers.
The five striped lobes surround a thick purple central ring.
The whole flower being about 4cm(1.6in) across.


On Aug 13, 2005, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:

A friend just gave me a specimen of this plant, and I just love it! She knew it only as "Lifesaver plant," based on the center part of the bloom resembling a piece of Lifesaver candy, and I was able to find the Latin name by searching under "Lifesaver" on this site. A very unique bloom, and an easy-to-grow plant. My friend had several pots just sitting out under one of her trees. I've just uploaded a couple of photos.