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Anacampseros Rufescens ‘Sunrise’ Care and Propagation

Anacampseros Rufescens, also known by its common names ‘Sunrise succulent’ and ‘Sand Rose’, is a gorgeous, low-growing succulent plant with colorful leaves. These plants are native to South Africa and grow in clusters that start out small but eventually spread out by producing offsets. The leaves are rainbow colored with foliage in the shades of green, yellow-green, purple and pink.

Thin, white hairs can be seen growing around the plant. These unusual looking plant will certainly add beauty and color anywhere you place them. Find out about care, propagation and growing tips right here.

Anacampseros Rufescens ‘Sunrise’ Care and Propagation

Are They Indoor or Outdoor Plants?

Anacampseros Rufescens can be grown both indoors and out. Whether indoors or out, the most important thing is to provide them with a well draining potting mix and adequate sunlight. One sure way to kill these plants is to have them sit in wet soil while not receiving adequate sunlight. My Anacampseros Rufescens ‘Variegata’ plants are grown outdoors all year round where they seem to be happiest. I live in Northern California where winters are mild compared to other areas. If you live in a climate where you need to bring your plants indoors for the winter, give them some outdoor time during the warmer months and they will thank you for it.

USDA hardiness zones: 9a-11b

Indoor Lighting Requirements

When kept indoors, place the plant in the brightest location in the house. Try an east facing window. South and west facing windows may also work. You may need to move the plant around a few times to find the best spot where it can be happiest. If the plant starts to suffer from lack of light, move it to a brighter location. If the plant starts elongating and stretching out, that means the plant is not getting enough light. This process is called etiolation. The plant is literally stretching to get to the light source. This produces weak and stunted growth.

To keep them really happy, they need approximately 4-6 hours of bright light per day. These plants will not tolerate poor lighting for prolonged periods of time. They will lose their vibrant colors and will revert to a pale green color. If your indoor space does not receive adequate lighting no matter where you move the plant, consider using a grow light. Grow lights can help supplement your plants’ lighting requirements especially during those long, dark winters. Here are some of my grow light recommendations.

To read more about this topic on indoor lighting for succulents, check out my post on “Proper Lighting for Succulents Indoors” to get some helpful tips.

Outdoor Sunlight Requirements

Anacampseros Rufescens prefers light shade to full Sun. They do best in areas that receive plenty of bright, partial sunlight. They can also tolerate full sun but needs to be acclimated to full sun to prevent sunburn. Less mature plants and baby plants are more susceptible to sun damage than mature plants. The plant loses its vibrant colors and becomes greener when kept in the shade for too long. Sunlight brings out the colorful pigmentation of the plant.

Before moving the plant outdoors or increasing the amount of sunlight it receives, you want to condition the plant by gradually increasing the amount of sunlight it receives until it is fully acclimated to the more intense sun. You can start with the morning sun because it is better tolerated by succulents than the more intense afternoon sun.

Keep in mind that even when the plant is already acclimated to full sun, it can still get sunburned during a heatwave or very intense heat. Sunshades are a real lifesaver for my plants during the intense summer heat here in Northern California where the temperatures can rise above 100℉ or 37.8℃. Here are some of my recommendations for sunshades and sun protection.

For further details and information on outdoor sunlight requirements, please visit my post “How Much Sunlight Do Succulents Need Outdoors?” to get some useful tidbits.

Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise or Sand Rose'
Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' with purple, green, rainbow colored leaves

Frost Tolerance

Anacampseros rufescens can tolerate mild frost and slightly freezing temperatures as long as they are not for prolonged periods of time. If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9-11, you can get away with leaving the plant outdoors all year long. I keep mines outdoors year round and they survive the freezing rain and frost we experience during the winter here in Northern California mainly because of all the bright sun we receive during the day. These plants are hardy up to 20℉ or -6.67℃. But there are days when I need to protect my plants from a sudden drop in temperature.

For those people in areas with extreme winter conditions, the best way to grow these plants is in containers. That way you can bring them indoors during winter or when there is a forecast of frost or snow. In case you can’t bring your plants in, there are ways to protect them from frost and freezing temperatures outdoors. You can use frost cloths or mini greenhouses to help them survive the cold winter. Here are some of my recommendations for frost protection.

For further tips on this topic, check out my post on “Optimal Temperatures For Succulents to Survive and Thrive”.

Soil Requirements

Anacampseros rufescens, like all other succulent plants, need a well-draining soil.  I like using a simple, tried and tested mixture that has worked well for my plants. I use a cactus potting mix combined with perlite for added drainage. I do not use exact measurements but eyeball it to about 2:1 solution of cactus mix and perlite (1:1 in more humid areas). You can also consider making a sandy soil, which adds more drainage to the mix. This can be achieved by mixing cactus mix or potting soil with coarse sand (about 2:1 ratio). Or you can use a combination of the three materials mentioned: Cactus mix, perlite, coarse sand (1:1:1).

I get most of my materials from a local garden center. You can also purchase them online. Here are my soil recommendations. To read more about soil for succulents, click on “Best Soil and Fertilizer for Succulents” to get more useful information.

Watering Requirements

Watering largely depends on the climate you live in. Although these plants are highly adapted to dry weather conditions, they thrive when given sufficient amounts of water, but not too much. There really isn’t a set schedule or formula on when to water succulents. My watering schedule is dictated by the very dry climate I live in.

In the summer months, I water my Anacampseros Rufescens as often as every 7-10 days. I cut back on watering to about every 10-14 days when the weather cools down during spring and fall seasons. During the winter season, I rely mostly on rainwater and hold back on watering altogether because this is when we get a lot of rain in my area. But if we don’t get any rain at all during winter then I water at least once a month or every 2-3 weeks, depending on how dry the soil gets.

Keep in mind that I live in a dry climate that gets really hot in the summer. For those people in humid locations, you won’t need to water as much. And if you keep your plants indoors, you do not have to water as much especially if the plants are not receiving a lot of light. Too much water and not enough light is a recipe for disaster for these plants.

One good way to tell whether it’s time to water is to check the moisture of the soil. The top inch of the soil needs to feel dry before you can water again. If you are unsure how much and how often to water in the beginning, it’s always better to underwater and increase watering as needed. Pay attention to how your plant looks and you can adjust watering accordingly.

For further help with watering techniques, consider using tools like hygrometers or moisture meters to check for moisture in the soil and air. These tools are pretty affordable and can come in handy especially if you are unsure of when to water your plant next. I have narrowed down the choices here on my resource page. Do visit the page if you need help in gauging your watering needs.

Interested in finding out more about watering succulents? Visit my post “How And When To Water Succulents” where I go into more details about this topic.

Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' with rainbow colored leaves

Propagating Anacampseros Rufescens

These plants grow in clusters and produce offsets or baby plants as they spread out and grow. The easiest way to propagate these plants is from offsets. They can also be propagated from leaves but leaf propagation takes a lot longer and the success rate is not always guaranteed. I have far better luck with propagating from offsets so I opt for this method first.

How To Propagate Anacampseros Rufescens from Offsets:

  • Find offsets that appear large enough to be removed. Try to get some roots when removing the pup. You can remove a pup without roots, but you will have much greater success with ones that have roots already growing. Offsets without roots will eventually root themselves, but the ones with existing roots have a greater chance of survival on their own. Likewise, bigger offsets are stronger than smaller ones and will have a better chance of surviving on their own.
  • Remove the offset carefully. Gently remove the pup from the mother plant by pulling them apart. Try to get as many roots as you can. It is better to remove the entire plant from the pot before separating the pup so you can see the roots and what’s going on underneath.
  • Sometimes you need to use a knife or a sharp tool to remove the pup. Use a clean or sanitized knife and carefully separate the baby plant from its mother plant by inserting the knife blade between the mother plant and the pup. Slowly pull apart the baby plant from the mother plant and sever the connecting root. If removing the offset while still planted in the soil, insert the knife blade into the soil between the mother plant and the offshoot. Slide the blade down the soil to sever the connecting roots. Carve out a 2-inch radius in the soil around the base of the offshoot then dig a few inches down the radial parameter using the sharp end of a small spade. Insert the spade at an angle underneath the offshoot and carefully pry it loose from the soil to remove.
  • Let the offset dry for about a day or more to make sure any cut or open areas are dry and sealed or calloused. Keep in a dry location away from direct sunlight.
  • Optional: Dip the offset in rooting hormone before planting. Rooting hormones can help speed this process up especially for offsets without roots.
  • Plant the offsets. Once the offset is dry it can be planted on its own. Prepare a suitable well-draining potting mix and plant the pup into the soil. Pack the soil lightly around the plant until secure.
  • Water occasionally. Offsets need a little more moisture than mature plants. Lightly mist the soil with a spray bottle every few days or when the soil feels dry. Once the plant is more established and rooted, stop misting and water more deeply. You can decrease watering to about once a week or less.
  • Protect from direct sunlight. Protect new plants from direct sunlight when initially planted on its own pot to prevent sun damage. Gradually increase sunlight and sun exposure according to the plant’s needs as the plant matures.
Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' offset separation and propagation

Separating offsets from mother plant for propagation

Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' propagating from offsets

Wait until the cut has healed and calloused before planting in soil.

How To Propagate Anacampseros Rufescens From Leaves:

Disclaimer: I have never propagated this type of plant from leaves before. Propagating from leaves naturally takes longer and requires more patience. Not all leaves will make it to the end so it is a good idea to use a few leaves rather than just one or two.

  • Gently pull a leaf out, make sure you get the entire leaf including the base. You should be able to gently twist the leaf off the plant and it should come off easily. Try to find a nice plump leaf that looks healthy. It also helps to have more than one leaf just because not all of them will make it all the way to the end.
  • Optional: Dip the cut ends in rooting hormone. Rooting hormone can help speed the propagation process up, especially when growing from leaves.
  • Wait for the leaves to dry for about a day or two. Keep in a dry location away from direct sunlight.
  • Prepare a well-draining potting mix. Once dry, lay the leaves flat on the soil or stick the cut ends in soil.
  • The leaves should start shooting out roots in about 2 weeks or so. In a few more weeks you will notice a new baby plant emerging. The whole process can take anywhere from a few weeks to months.

As I mentioned above, it takes longer to propagate from leaves as opposed to an already existing baby plant. Success rate is also higher with offsets so do keep these in mind when propagating. Of course you will need to wait until the plant produces enough offsets or pups to be able to propagate them. If you have some to spare, give both methods a try and see which one works for you!

Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' ready to bloom

Anacampseros Rufescens getting ready to bloom

Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' ready to bloom

Anacampseros Rufescens Blooms

Anacampseros Rufescens produces pretty pink and purple flowers that enhance the beauty of the plant. While it’s always a treat to see succulents bloom, keep in mind that not all plants are ready to flower, and some may not bloom at all. A lot depends on environmental factors that are beyond our control.

Here are some tips on how to encourage Anacampseros Rufescens to bloom:

Plant Maturity

Make sure the plant is mature enough. When a plant blooms it means it is ready to reproduce. If the plant is too young, it is simply not ready to reproduce and therefore will not bloom. Give the plant some time, usually if the plant is over 3 years old and beyond, it is mature enough to bloom.

Plenty of Light

Make sure the plants are receiving adequate sunlight throughout the year and are kept in a bright location, even during colder winter months.

Proper Temperatures

To encourage flowering, provide proper temperatures. They need a distinct difference in night and day temperatures as well as summer and winter months. Succulents favor cooler outdoor nighttime temperatures of 50-55⁰F (10-13⁰C) or indoor night temperatures of at least 60-65⁰F(15-18⁰C). Especially when kept in a controlled environment, succulents prefer a marked difference between their night and day temperatures to mimic their natural habitat, with the cool night temperatures having an integral part in the plant’s growth cycle.


Overwintering is also important if you want to see your succulents bloom. This can be achieved by keeping them cool and relatively dry in the winter months, especially desert cacti.  Keep them cool during winter months with temperatures just above freezing, between 35-44⁰F (1.5-7⁰C). If kept indoors during winter, have them in a non-heated room if possible or keep the temperatures low to provide them the cold winter period that they need.

Feed or Fertilize

While fertilizing is not necessary, giving your plants the nutrients they need will help ensure proper growth and encourage blooms. It takes a lot of energy for plants to produce flowers, and feeding them extra nutrients will help supplement their needs during the flowering season. The most common recommendation is to fertilize during the active growing season, or during spring and summer months. Fertilizers are better applied at a quarter or half strength, about every two weeks. Refrain from fertilizing towards the end of the fall season and during winter months. A balanced blend of fertilizer diluted to half strength is suitable and commonly used. Fertilizer blends specially formulated for cacti and succulents are also suitable. Here are my fertilizer recommendations.

Are Anacampseros Rufescens Poisonous to cats, dogs or pets?

There isn’t much information available regarding the toxicity of these plants but they are generally considered safe around pets and humans. When in doubt, proceed with caution and if you suspect poisoning, contact your local veterinarian, poison control, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately.

These plants are not complicated to grow. Follow the basic guidelines for succulent care and you will not have any trouble with these plants. They are really beautiful plants that will reward you for years and years to come.

Wondering where to find Anacampseros Rufescens? Check out my resource page for recommendations on where to purchase these and other succulents online.

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Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' 'Sand rose' with rainbow colored leaves
Anacampseros Rufescens 'Sunrise' getting ready to bloom