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Stapelia scitula (Small Starfish Flower)

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Scientific Name

Stapelia scitula L.C. Leach

Common Names

Starfish Flower, Small Starfish Flower, Mini Starfish Flower

Synonyms

Gonostemon scitulus

Scientific Classification

Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Stapeliae
Genus: Stapelia

Description

Stapelia scitula is a small succulent plant with slender, four angled, light green stems, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall and up to 0.2 inch (5 mm) thick. Throughout the year, it is adorned with proportionately diminutive star-shaped blooms, each up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) across, magenta or dark chestnut-brown with or without yellowish bands and densely covered with purple or maroon hairs. The fruit are paired spindle-shaped capsules (follicles) with the tightly packed seeds inside.

Photo via xericworld.com

Hardiness

USDA hardiness zone 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 10°C (50°F) 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 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 mealy bugs is the real key to success as fungal attack often occurs as a result of damage to stems by insects… – See more at: How to Grow and Care for Stapelia

Origin

Stapelia scitula is native to South Africa (Western Cape).

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