Orbea decaisneana subsp. hesperidum (Maire) Jonkers
Accepted Scientific Name
Orbea decaisneana (Lem.) Bruyns
Ceropegia venenosa subsp. hesperidum, Angolluma hesperidum, Caralluma commutata subsp. hesperidum, Caralluma decaisneana subsp. hesperidum, Caralluma hesperidum, Pachycymbium decaisneanum subsp. hesperidum
Orbea decaisneana subsp. hesperidum is a much-branched succulent with whitish-green to grey-green stems mottled with brown to purple. The stems are cylindrical, slightly angled, with long stout teeth, and grow up to 16 inches (40 cm) long and 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter, excluding teeth, rooting freely in contact with the soil and forming diffuse mats.
Flowers are dark purple or reddish-brown, star-shaped, 5-merous, up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) across, and appear from summer to fall. Fruits are typical horn-shaped follicles.
USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b: from 30 °F (−1.1 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
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 fertilizer) during the growing season and complete withdrawal of water during the winter months. A minimum winter temperature of 50 °F (10 °C) is acceptable, providing plants are kept dry. A heated growing bench or incubator may help delicate plants to get through the colder months. However, many species live under shrubs in their 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 mineral-only compost to minimize the chance of a 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 mealybugs is the real key to success, as fungal attack often occurs due to damage to stems by an insect.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
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