Orbea umbracula (M.D. Hend.) L.C. Leach
Stapelia umbracula, Stultitia umbracula, Ceropegia umbracula
Orbea umbracula is a low-growing succulent with mottled grayish branches, forming small lax mats. The stems are 4-angled, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long, and up to 0.3 inches (8 mm) in diameter. The sides are more or less furrowed with acute, up to 0.8 inches (2 cm) long, ascending, or widely divergent tubercle teeth. Flowers are chocolate-brown, mottled or striped with yellow at the tips of the lobes, rarely rusty-brown. The corolla is up to 2 inches (5 cm) across, inversely campanulate, and strongly reflexed as if ready for flight.
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 that plants are kept absolutely dry. A heated growing bench or incubator may help delicate plants to get through 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 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 insects. See more at: How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
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