Stapelia grandiflora Masson
Giant Toad Plant, Carrion Plant, Carrion Flower, Starfish Flower, Giant Zulu, Starfish Cactus
Stapelia ambigua, Stapelia flavirostris
Stapelia grandiflora is a cactus-like succulent with tufted stems that trail and hang down over the pot. It forms large clusters up to 20 inches (50 cm) in diameter. The stems are up to 4 inches (10 cm) tall, pale green, or reddish and slightly furrowed with upright hooks along the ridges. Flowers are large and showy, starfish-shaped, and up to 6 inches (15 cm) across. They are intermittently produced throughout the late summer and fall. Fruits are typical twin seed horns (follicles), which are decorative in themselves and often do not appear until a year later.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °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 10°C (50°F) is acceptable, providing that 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 habitat and prefer light shade rather than full sun.
A gritty succulent soil mix is essential, and clay pots are advisable for the more delicate species. Some growers prefer a mineral-only soil to minimize the chance of a fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the surface of the soil prevents moisture from accumulating around the base of stems.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
Stapelia grandiflora is native to South Africa (Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Free State).
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