Stapelia scitula L.C. Leach
Starfish Flower, Small Starfish Flower, Mini Starfish Flower
Stapelia scitula is a small succulent plant with slender, 4-angled, light green stems that grow up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) tall and up to 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) thick. Throughout the year, it is adorned with proportionately small, star-shaped flowers, 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. Fruits are paired spindle-shaped capsules (follicles) with the tightly packed seeds inside.
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 a fungal attack on the roots. A layer of grit on the compost's surface 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.
Stapelia scitula is native to South Africa (Western Cape).
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