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Stapelia hirsuta – African Starfish Flowers

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Scientific Name

Stapelia hirsuta L.

Common Names

Synonyms

Stapelia hirsuta var. hirsuta, Gonostemon hirsutus, Stisseria hirsuta

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Stapeliae
Genus: Stapelia

Description

Stapelia hirsuta has subquadrangular stems up to 8 inches (20 cm) high, with flat, very hairy dark-red flowers resembling rotting meat. Corolla can reach a width of up to 6 inches (15 cm). The flowering period extends from late summer through late autumn. This species is extremely variable with various subspecies and many hybrids.

Stapelia hirsuta - African Starfish Flowers

Photo via llifle.com

How to Grow and Care

Several species are fairly easy to grow. Others, often those with slightly hairy stems and the more unusual flowers, are more challenging and require careful watering (with some fertiliser) during the growing season and complete withdrawal of water during the winter months. A minimum winter temperature of 10°C (50°CF) is acceptable, providing that plants are kept absolutely dry. A heated growing bench or incubator may help delicate plants to get throught the colder months. However, many species live under shrubs in habitat and prefer light shade rather than full sun.

A gritty compost is essential, and clay pots are advisable for the more delicate species. Some growers prefer a mineral-only compost to minimize the chance of fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the surface of the compost prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of the stems.

Keeping Stapelias and their roots free of pests such as mealy bugs is the real key to success as fungal attack often occurs as a result of damage to stems by insects. Watering with a good systemic insecticide such as those based on imidachloprid should help to keep plants healthy… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Stapelia

Origin

Endemic to South Africa (Cape Province) and southern Namibia. It can be found in the mainly winter rainfall areas.

Links

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