How to Grow and Care for a Bigfoot (Gerrardanthus macrorhizus)

How to Grow and Care for a Bigfoot (Gerrardanthus macrorhizus)

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Gerrardanthus macrorhizus, commonly known as Bigfoot, is a very interesting and popular pot plant native to southern Africa. It is a deciduous caudiciform vine that forms a very large caudex up to up to 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter. The caudex resembles a granite rock. The leaves are a medium dark green in an ivy-shaped form. Bigfoot is dioecious, having male and female flowers on separate plants. The flowers are small, orchid-like and golden yellow. If a female flowers is fecundated, it is followed by a flask-shaped, brownish, dry capsule dehiscing at the top.

The name "macrorhizus" comes from the Greek, meaning "big root".

Growing Conditions and General Care

Young plants make interesting hanging basket subjects. They are relatively easy to grow, and develop rapidly a nice caudex, provided that they get abundant water and fertilizer in summer and a pot large enough. It is also good in rock and succulent gardens, especially at the back edge climbing a fence or wall or even a trellis or arbor.

The vine can be placed in direct sunlight, but the caudex should stay in the shade. Place Bigfoot under a shelter to keep it out of the rain and bring it inside when it starts getting too cold.

Bigfoot is one of the most hardy plants you can get. It will survive temperatures between 30 and 95 ⁰F (-2 and 35 ⁰C). Still, it will flourish at a temperature around 80 ⁰F (25 ⁰C).

This plant with its cucumber heritage can survive long periods of time in drought, but can use a bit of extra water in the summer, around once a week. The only danger here is if water can't drain from the pot, which can result in rotting of the caudex. It requires excellent drainage. As a substrate, cactus mix will be suitable.

Light, regular fertilizing will keep you plants healthy and growing strong.


Bigfoot is propagated by seed or cuttings. Both male and female plants are needed to set seed. Seeds do not store well, so sow as soon as possible.


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Horticultural Data

Names and Synonyms: Gerrardanthus macrorhiza, Gerrardanthus mogarhiza
Common Names: Blob Plant, Bigfoot, Pregnant Pancake
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Origin: Southern Africa
Size Label: 1 Gallon
Height: 20-30′
Width: 4′-
USDA Zones: Zone 9b, Zone 10a, Zone 10b, Zone 11a
Cold Tolerance: 25 to 30°F -3.9 to -1.1°C
Heat Tolerance: Very high
Light Requirement: Partial sun to shade
Water needs: Very drought tolerant but needs irrigation in hot dry periods. Requires excellent drainage.
Maintenance: None
Uses: Great in large containers. Young plants make interesting hanging basket subjects. Also good in rock, succulent and cactus gardens, especially at the back edge climbing a fence or wall or even a trellis or arbor.
Propagation: Seeds (dioecious, so both male and female plants are needed to set seed). Seeds do not store well, so sow as soon as possible.
Problems: Root rots from poor drainage
Research Links:

Plants→Gerrardanthus→Gerrardanthus macrorhizus

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit:Vine
Life cycle:Perennial
Sun Requirements:Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences:Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Slightly alkaline (7.4 – 7.8)
Minimum cold hardiness:Zone 9b -3.9 °C (25 °F) to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
Maximum recommended zone:Zone 11
Plant Height :climbs 15 to 30 feet
Other: Interesting looking, odd shaped pods with a hatch at lower tip that opens to release winged seeds
Flower Color:Brown
Bloom Size:Under 1"
Underground structures:Caudex
Suitable Locations:Xeriscapic
Resistances:Drought tolerant
Containers:Suitable for hanging baskets
Needs excellent drainage in pots
Miscellaneous: Dioecious

Plant Events from our members
tarev On July 6, 2018 Obtained plant
Bought plant from Poot's Cactus Nursery in Ripon, CA
» Post your own event for this plant

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