This bushy succulent is cultivated for its flowers rather than foliage. The plant is a small bush with stems up to about 30cm (12in) long, having a very lax rosette of leaves at the end. During the Winter, the plant tends to drop most of its leaves, leaving a cluster of bare stems or a few short leaves at the ends of the stems. During the Spring and early Summer, the succulent leaves begin to develop again, and each stem is crowned by a number of thick, narrow slightly hairy leaves.
As the Spring days lengthen and the light increases, the plant produces its buds. The mature rosettes are about 8cm (3in) in diameter, but the flowers are nearly 4cm (1 l/2in) long and about 13mm (1/2in) in diameter, being bright red with yellow tips to the petals.
haimsii is quite tolerant of low Winter temperatures (down to 5°C/40°F) if kept fairly dry. It benefits from good ventilation, but not draughts.
These plants require a bright situation at all times and will grow happily in most windows.
Water well during the Spring and Summer, then allow theto dry before watering again. During the Autumn and Winter, keep fairly dry, giving only enough water to prevent shrivelling. This plant will soon rot if kept wet at low temperatures.
Native to arid areas, E. harmsii will benefit from a dry atmosphere.
Feed regularly every 1-2 weeks during the Spring and Summer, using afood, or one recommended for tomatoes at about half strength.
Grow this plant in a well-drained compost containing about one third by volume of horticultural grit. Repot at least every two years.
After flowering, the plant should be cut back hard, leaving about 2.5cm (1in) of the current year’s growth. This will encourage it to branch well and make a compact plant. Keep the prunings for. Shorten the cuttings so that the stems are about 5cm (2in) long and remove any lower leaves to leave a bare stem.
Set the cuttings aside to dry for about 24 hours. Three quarters fill some 8cm (3in) pots with cactus compost, then top with fine gravel. Push three cuttings into the middle of each pot to a depth of about 2.5cm (1in), with the bases all together so that they look like one plant. Keep the pot very slightly damp and warm, and they should root within about three weeks. Use them to replace older plants, which are best scrapped every 4-5 years, as they become very untidy.
Mealy Bug may cause problems; eradicate with methylated spirit and a cotton bud.
Watering: Keep water droplets off the leaves, as in full sun, they may cause burning and browning of the leaves.