Orbea semota var. lutea
Accepted Scientific Name
Orbea semota (N.E. Br.) L.C. Leach
Orbea semota var. lutea is a yellow-flowering form of the variable Orbea semota found near Nairobi in Kenya. It is not accepted as a variety and has received several names over the years, now all amalgamated into Orbea semota.
Orbea semota var. lutea is a much-branched succulent that forms a mat of yellowish-green, strongly-toothed stems and brilliant yellow star-shaped flowers fringed with simple hairs. The stems are erect or procumbent and up to 4 inches (10 cm) long. They are up to 0.7 inches (1.8 cm) across, excluding teeth. The teeth are stout, conical, and up to 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) long.
The flowers are star-shaped, transversely wrinkled, up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, and appear solitary or in a group of several from any part of the stem from summer to fall.
USDA hardiness zones 11a to 11b: from 40 °F (+4.4 °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 water withdrawal during the winter months. A minimum winter temperature of 50 °F (10 °C) is acceptable if 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 compost's surface prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of 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 the insect.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
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