What is rose of jericho?
Resurrection plants are ferny plants in the spikemoss family. While few gardeners can recreate the rugged conditions of the resurrection plant's native desert in northern Mexico, the plants make easy, nearly fail-proof houseplants. They can be very long-lived if cared for properly. Some have been passed down through generations.
Often, resurrection plant is sold in its dormant state, which looks like a brown, dead ball of fern-like foliage. However, once watered, the plant will begin to unfurl and turn green, reaching full "resurrection" within a day or so. Drought tolerance is one of the unique features of resurrection plants. They can survive for up to seven years without water in dormancy and lose up to 95% of their moisture content without cell or tissue damage.
Resurrection plants thrive in plenty of light. Therefore, choose a location that receives bright, indirect light, such as a window with a southern or western exposure. Avoid locations with the scorching sun; it may be too much for a resurrection plant that has adapted to living indoors.
Soil is not a necessity for resurrection plants, but you can use it if you'd like. Resurrection plants will grow happily in a bowl of pebbles just barely covered with water as long as they are given some rest periods. Alternatively, after resurrection plants are rehydrated in water, they can be transferred to soil and grown as a healthy potted plant. Use a well-draining potting mix such as a mixture of one-part sand, one-part potting soil, and two-parts humus.
To rehydrate resurrection plants and keep them green, place the plant in a container filled with pebbles and water. The water should reach just above the pebbles so that the plants can rest securely on top without submerging in the water too much. Resurrection plants are sensitive to water quality, so it's best to use distilled water, rainwater, or tap water that's been left out overnight. Once placed in the water, it takes about three to four hours for a dried-out resurrection plant to begin unfurling. It will completely revive within a few days.
If keeping the plant in water, note that resurrection plants cannot survive in constant water and will rot if left in water for too long. Therefore, dedicate at least one day a week as a water-free rest day. Then, every couple of weeks, resurrection plants should be allowed to dry out completely.
Although resurrection plants are desert plants, they are sensitive to extreme temperature variations and should not be exposed to too hot or too cold temperatures. If you plant them outside, they do not survive extreme fluctuations in temperature. Do not keep them outside if the temperatures go lower than 65 F or higher than 85 F.
Generally, resurrection plants are happy in average room temperatures. However, avoid placing resurrection plants in locations next to drafty vents or windows.
As these plants are most often grown perched on a bowl of water and pebbles, humidity isn't usually a problem. However, if your plant starts to go dormant, you can increase humidity levels by misting it with distilled water occasionally.
Resurrection plants require very little fertilizing. Feed twice a year with a diluted water-soluble houseplant fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer to 1/10 of the strength recommended for regular houseplants, and feed your resurrection plant once in early spring and once mid-summer.
Resurrection plants do not need regular pruning, but you can trim any dead ends that do not rehydrate with a pair of garden shears or snips.
It is best to propagate this plant by division. Resurrection plants are sporophytes, which means that they do not produce seeds or flowers, but multiply through spores. Divide by taking cuttings from the plant in spring or late fall.
This plant cannot tolerate extreme cold or heat. If you keep your resurrection plant outdoors in the summer, you can store it in its dormant state over the winter. To store it, bring it in from the cold and put it in a paper bag or a box in a cool, dry place where it won't get crushed. It will dry out and wait for you to revive it again in the spring. However, resurrection plants grown indoors don't require any special winter care.
For the most part, resurrection plant is very easy to grow, and has few problems. However, as with any houseplant, there are a few things to watch out for.
If you notice your plant has blackened leaves, feels mushy, or has a sour smell, the likely problem is rot due to too much water. You can sometimes save the plant by trimming away the affected fronds, and reducing the amount of water in the plant's bowl or tray. There should be just enough water to barely cover the pebbles. You should also give the plant at least one day per week away from any water.
It's the nature of resurrection plant to turn brown and curl up when it goes dormant due to lack of moisture. If your plant is looking curled, brown, and dry, and you don't plan on storing it, you can restore it by adding fresh water to its bowl, or by misting it regularly with distilled or purified water.
There are many health-related claims about rose of Jericho but little research on the plant and its purported benefits.
It contains disease-fighting plant compounds known as flavonoids. In particular, it’s rich in chlorogenic acid, quercetin, kaempferol, and luteolin, which studies say may reduce inflammation, arthritis pain, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels (2, 3, 4, 5).
Despite this, researchers don’t have enough evidence to say whether rose of Jericho tea or its other forms contain enough of these compounds to provide a therapeutic benefit. Scientists need to do more research on the effects of rose of Jericho in humans.
For example, most studies on quercetin have shown it can have benefits with doses of 500 mg and more. However, rose of Jericho contains less than 50 mg of quercetin per gram, so it may not be a good source of this compound (5, 6, 7, 8).
Along with this, some people think rose of Jericho has antiaging benefits due to its high antioxidant content. However, there’s no research available to support its use in skin care products or home skin treatments.
Finally, rose of Jericho is famous for its use as an emmenagogue — a herb used to promote blood flow in the uterus.
A study in 460 Malaysian women found that 66 percent said they used rose of Jericho during pregnancy, most often to facilitate labor. However, the study didn’t look into whether rose of Jericho actually worked for this purpose (9).
Due to the unknown risks of taking rose of Jericho during pregnancy, it’s best to avoid it.
Thus, scientists need to do much more research on the potential health benefits of rose of Jericho.
Here’s how to give rose of Jericho a whirl, as a natural remedy, or on your skin.
TBH, the most common use for rose of Jericho is pretty basic: decoration. In some cultures and religions, it’s used to rid your space of negative energy. Think of its presence as smoke-free “smudging.”
Some common beliefs about rose of Jericho:
When used medicinally, rose of Jericho is prepared as a tea or tonic.
There aren’t many pre-made resurrection plant teas on the market, so most peeps make their own by steeping tiny bundles of dried rose of Jericho.
Prep rose of Jericho tonic just like most herbal teas.
If you’re concerned about an allergic reaction or adverse side effects, start with a smaller amount.
Want to smooth your wrinkles with a rose of Jericho mask? That’s easier said than done.
Not many skin companies have latched on to rose of Jericho as an anti-aging agent, and there’s no evidence-backed recipe for a DIY application. So if you want to give it a whirl, start small and proceed with caution.
Heads up: Some products labeled as rose of Jericho use a similar but different plant. Authentic products will contain Anastatica hierochuntica or A. hierochuntica.
Counterfeit rose of Jericho is labeled as Selaginella lepidophylla.
The Rose of Jericho is a plant straight out of antiquity. It is known for drying out and “dying” and then coming back to life and thriving once again.
What do you do with a Rose of Jericho? Rose of Jericho is a plant that has many uses and varies greatly from other plants. You may use it for medicine, tea, decorations, or for spiritual purposes. To grow it, simply rehydrate it in water and anchor it in a container with water or in quick-draining soil.
Below you’ll discover everything you need to know about Rose of Jericho, including how to use it, care for it, revive it, and more.
Be sure to read all the way to the end to view an amazing time-lapse of the plant’s revival.
The Rose of Jericho is an herb that was used in ancient times throughout the world to treat various ailments including pain, to induce labor, to soothe menstrual cramps, and more.
It was used widely as traditional medicine and is still used in alternative medicine today.
The Rose of Jericho is known by many other names. A few of the most well-known alternative names for the plant include:
The Rose of Jericho is a relatively small plant, and when you first get your hands on one it looks like nothing more than a dried-up ball of mud and roots.
It is an extremely hardy plant, surviving in conditions that easily kill other plants (like weeks with no water).
Anastatica hierochuntica is the name of the “true” Rose of Jericho. In its natural environment, the flowering plant grows to heights of around 1 foot tall.
When there isn’t enough water to support the plant, it contorts itself into a ball (and looks a lot like one of those tumbleweeds from an old western movie).
Once the True Rose of Jericho receives water, it stops hibernating and comes back to life.
The plant Selaginella lepidophylla, originating from the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States and Mexico, looks and acts similar to Anastatica hierochuntica and is sometimes mistaken for and therefore called Rose of Jericho.
A more common and accurate name for it is the “False” Rose of Jericho.
The traditional uses of Rose of Jericho could take up an entire article (if not a full book).
Unfortunately, we’ll never know exactly how many uses it had in ancient times or for just how long our ancestors relied on it as a multipurpose medicine.
Modern scientists vouch for the Rose of Jericho’s ability to improve general well-being and sleep quality, reduce blood pressure, and relieve some symptoms in cancer patients, as well as additional medicinal and therapeutic benefits.
Below, we discuss the medicinal, religious, spiritual, and decorative uses of the Rose of Jericho in better detail.
Rose of Jericho was (and still is in various places around the world) used traditionally in numerous cultures for treating all manners of health conditions.
Aside from the medicinal purposes already mentioned above, the plant was also used for treating such common ailments as arthritis pain, asthma, and the common cold.
Perhaps one of its most important roles as an ancient medicine was to induce (force) labor.
The full extent of the Rose of Jericho’s religious and spiritual uses is unknown.
We do know that it was viewed as a “resurrection plant” and was thought to have transformational and renewal powers to people of many spiritual belief systems.
A few of the main faiths that Rose of Jericho certainly played a religious role in include Christianity, Hoodoo, and Santeria.
In most cases, the herb’s leaves, flowers, and seeds are dried and used for tea, or it is prepared as oil for making holy water.
The Rose of Jericho has a natural and rustic decorative appeal to it. Its appearance is somewhat reminiscent of a pinecone as they were used as traditional Christmas decorations.
It is unclear exactly how else our ancestors may have used this plant for decorative purposes.
It takes no stretch of the imagination to envision a curled-up Rose of Jericho on the old stone hearth, the altar of the ancient household.
Today, this fascinating plant is commonly used for decorative purposes as it differs significantly from ordinary houseplants.
The Rose of Jericho is obviously not your typical garden variety or houseplant. That said, it takes a unique type of care to properly nurture the Rose of Jericho.
In the next few subsections, we discuss each aspect of caring for Rose of Jericho.
Note that the directions given apply to the Selaginella lepidophylla, or False Rose of Jericho, as they are much more common, and if you have a Rose of Jericho, it is likely the “false” version.
Depending on how you plan on displaying your Rose of Jericho, you have two main options to choose from before you even get started; planting in water or planting in soil.
If planting in water, you can simply stick it into a container of water with its roots touching the surface of the water.
Adding pebbles to the mix is a great way to keep the plant stable, depending on the type of container you’re using (and the amount of water it is holding).
If you are planting your Rose of Jericho in soil, know that you’re taking the road less travelled. The plant doesn’t require soil, and it is much easier to do without it.
However, if you absolutely must plant it in soil, make sure it is sandy, coarse, and extremely fast draining.
When you’re finished, place the “planted” Rose of Jericho in a calm location with lots of bright but indirect light.
Rose of Jericho is a touchy plant when it comes to water.
It can go long periods of time without water, but once it is growing actively, a lack of constant water is almost as bad as being overwatered (which leads to the plant rotting).
The proper watering routine for Rose of Jericho may seem a bit peculiar, but it is well practiced and proven.
Water your plant daily, but skip one day each week. Every two weeks, skip an entire week of watering so the soil dries out completely.
If keeping your plant in water rather than soil, simply keep the water topped off and remove the plant for a few days (up to a week) every couple of weeks or so.
Depending on how you’re growing and caring for it, a Rose of Jericho should be watered until the soil is completely saturated and water is leaking from the bottom of the pot.
The topsoil should be thoroughly wet for several inches deep.
If your Rose of Jericho is growing in water, the tips of the roots should be fully submerged in the water at all times.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to change the water out with fresh water every 14 to 21 days. Adding a tad bit of general-purpose liquid nutrients (you can find them here) also helps the plant thrive.
Rose of Jericho can be grown in water indefinitely so long as you remove it to dry out from time to time.
That said, if you’re planning on planting the Rose of Jericho, you’ll need to let it soak for about 5 to 10 days before removing it from the water.
False Rose of Jericho can go directly into the soil after just 24 to 48 hours soaking in water. That’s because they form new roots rather than grow back from the old ones (like True Rose of Jericho does).
Keep the new planting watered daily, maintaining soaking wet conditions.
The recommended light and temperatures for Rose of Jericho are much more forgiving than with many similar plants.
Rose of Jericho survives with as little as 1 to 3 hours of direct sunlight each day. It thrives in temperatures as low as 40°F to as high as 95°F.
Revival of a Rose of Jericho is quite simple; allow the plant to dry out, and then place it in a shallow container of water (with its roots covered).
Expose it to plenty of indirect light as well as an hour or two of direct sunlight daily (when possible).
According to most reports, Rose of Jericho may begin to unfurl itself and turn green in as little as 3 to 4 hours after being reintroduced to a water source.
Make sure to change the water every day or two to make sure that it continues turning greener.
Rose or Jericho is alive even when it is curled up into what appears to be a ball of dried-up and dead roots.
The plant simply hibernates until it senses enough water to “revive” and bring it out of its dormant phase and back into a vegetative state of growth.
The Rose of Jericho is a member of the blooming mustard family, and after it is in a vegetative growth phase for a long enough period of time, it does indeed bloom.
After it is fully healthy and has established some greenery, it begins producing little white blooming flowers.
The Rose of Jericho is alive and growing just like any other plant, albeit it functions a bit differently than most. That said, the maximum size for most of these plants is 12 inches tall.
The lifespan of a Rose of Jericho depends largely upon the care it receives during its lifetime.
That said, the plant can go for up to 7 long years with absolutely no water, losing up to 95% of its moisture before it is in danger of dying.
While it’s growing Rose of Jericho needs light just like any other plant. In this case, the plant requires between 1 and 3 hours of direct sunlight or a larger amount of bright indirect light.
While curled up into a ball in between growth stages (when it is hibernating), the Rose of Jericho requires zero light. In this state, the dry plant can go for years without receiving as much as a particle of sunlight.
Depending on the species, the vendor, and other basic factors, such as quality and age, determine the cost of a Rose of Jericho.
Many listings offer Rose of Jericho for $5 to $15. Others offer many higher-end versions with price tags between $50 and well over $1,000.
Rose of Jericho is commonly used as medicine, usually as tea. It is not toxic to people if ingested.
It may cause irritation to cats, however. So, try to avoid placing them on the floor or other areas your cats frequent.
Believe it or not, Rose of Jericho is actually indeed a tumbleweed.
Coming from desert regions, in nature these plants dry up and roll around sometimes for years until they find a place to nestle down and soak up some water.
The easiest and most common way to remove mold from a Rose of Jericho is to apply baking soda to the areas of the plant that are infected with mold.
Make sure to remove the excess baking soda as too much of the substance may harm your plant rather than simply kill the mold.
Rose of Jericho is definitely a different type of plant. It can live for years on end without water, it begins to revive itself within hours of finding a water source, and it has a diverse number of uses.
Getting started with your own Rose of Jericho is super easy, so we’ve compiled a list of everything you need (and want) to know to become an expert!
Both plants are called resurrection plants. This nickname could also refer to about a hundred and thirty other plants with the ability to dry out and come back to life, though they belong to different families and won’t find their way into many nurseries.
The two that go by the name “Rose of Jericho” are Anastatica heirochuntica and Selaginella lepidophylla.
Anastatica heirochuntica is also called “True” Rose of Jericho. This plant hails from the Middle East (i.e. Jericho) and is less common than Selaginella lepidophylla. It’s also considered less attractive.
This plant grows little white flowers when fully hydrated, but it must actually root in soil to revive, which makes it a little harder to care for. It’s the only plant in the Anastatica genus and is a member of the mustard family.
Selaginella lepidophylla is also called “False” Rose of Jericho or dinosaur plant. This plant is a type of spike moss and is found in the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico, New Mexico, and Arizona.
This plant is easier to find than the true Rose of Jericho and is easier to care for because it doesn’t need to be planted in soil. Because it’s so much more common, most of our recommendations work best for Selaginella lepidophylla.
With a nickname like “resurrection plant,” it’s no wonder that Rose of Jericho holds a special place in many world religions and myths.
You can find references to these plants in literature from around the world. The scientific community has also taken an interest in this plant for its drought resistant and potentially cancer-fighting properties!
Read our guide to the history of Rose of Jericho here!
Luckily, false Rose of Jericho is fairly easy to find because it’s so easy to store and require no care when in storage.
Check Etsy, Amazon, garden stores, even chain stores with a gardening section! (Make sure the label says Selaginella lepidophylla if that’s what you’re looking for.)
If you’ve got your heart set on a true Rose of Jericho, you’ll have better luck finding one online from Etsy or an online nursery. Just make sure “Anastatica heirochuntica” is specified to ensure you’re getting the correct plant. If possible, check ratings and reviews from other customers to make sure the company has a good reputation and is selling the plant they claim to sell.
Rose of Jericho is a great plant if you have a history of a black thumb because they are very, very hard to kill. You can let your plant completely dry out and it will come right back to life after a few hours of hydration. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
What you need to revive a Rose of Jericho
Ready to try your own Rose of Jericho?
To “plant” your Rose of Jericho, fill dish with pebbles or gravel and add water until the pebbles are just submerged. Place your Rose of Jericho on top with its roots touching the water.
(You can also skip the pebbles and put the plant right into a shallow dish of water, but we feel the pebbles help it balance and also look nice.)
Place in indirect light and wait!
Tip: Use distilled water or let tap water sit out overnight for the chlorine and any other chemicals evaporate before adding to your plant.
Change the water for your Rose of Jericho every day to keep it clean. (If you skip a day here and there, you’ll be okay.) All you have to do is set out some fresh water every night. In the morning, drain the dish and add the fresh water.
The biggest trick to the Rose of Jericho is not to OVER water it. This is easy to do, because you just remove the plant from water every week or so to give it a rest. No guesswork about how much water to give it or how often. Just give it a weekly break from the water dish and it’s happy.
Every month, give your Rose of Jericho a week without water to dry out a little bit. Choose the same week every month to make this easy. Simply drain the dish and leave the plant on the pebbles, or remove the plant completely and put it in a darker place.
Read our in-depth watering guide here!
Rose of Jericho thrives best at room temperature, so watch out for vents, drafts, and extreme temperature fluctuations. It might be a desert plant, but extreme heat or cold can still damage it.
Learn more about Rose of Jericho care here.
If placed in lukewarm water, your Rose of Jericho should open in about 4 hours, though it might not open to its full capacity for a few days.
Like all spike mosses, Selaginella lepidophylla (false Rose of Jericho) may be toxic to cats, so it’s best to play it safe. Keep your Rose of Jericho out of reach, or choose a different plant.
The best way to store Rose of Jericho is in a paper bag or a box in a cool, dry place where it won’t get crushed. Once it’s safely stored away, it will dry out and wait for you to revive it again. Simple!