Stapelia leendertziae N.E. Br.
Black Bells, Maroon Cup Starfish, Rugose Cup Starfish, Star Flower, Carrion Flower
Stapelia wilmaniae, Ceropegia leendertziae
Stapelia leendertziae is an attractive succulent that forms large clumps of green, shortly pubescent stems with small tubercles on the angles and purple mottling towards the tips. The stems are quadrangular, decumbent with a short ascending base, up to 8 inches (20 cm) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. It is most conspicuous in bloom due to the unique large bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) long with a diameter equal to the length and appear in late summer.
The specific epithet "leendertziae" honors Reino Leendertz, later Mrs. Pott (1869–1965), a Dutch botanist and the first official botanist employed at the Transvaal Museum who first discovered the species at Heidelberg.
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 50 °F (10 °C) 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 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 insects.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Stapelia.
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