Stapelia grandiflora Masson
Giant Toad Plant, Carrion Plant, Carrion Flower, Starfish Flower, Giant Zulu, Starfish Cactus
Stapelia ambigua, Stapelia flavirostris
Stapelia grandiflora is a succulent plant with 4-angled, finely hairy, erect or decumbent stems, forming a large compact clump. The stems are thick, fleshy, unusually gray-green, up to 12 inches (30 cm) long, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) thick, and with tubercles widely spaced along the ribs. The starfish-shaped flowers usually have strongly recurved lobes and are up to 8.8 inches (22 cm) across. They are intermittently produced throughout the late summer and fall. The lobes are yellow with purple, becoming uniformly pink-purplish towards the tips, and have white hairs on the margins. Fruits are typical twin seed horns 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 water withdrawal 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 their 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 mineral-only soil to minimize the chance of a fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the soil'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 insects.
Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
This species is native to South Africa (Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and Free State).
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