Toxic for pets, dogs and cats in the first place, the Stapelia it's a ornamental plant which we find in most cases cultivated in pots even if it is very suitable for decorating flower beds due to its very showy shapes and flowers.
We are not talking about a very well-known plant or even a plant that is easy to find around, which is why almost only succulent plant enthusiasts appreciate it. Others, may not even know it, we begin to tell something in this article, hoping to spark curiosity in you.
Of course, it is not particularly encouraging to know that it has a very strong and completely unpleasant smell, which actually resembles that of rotting meat. It does not attract many fans among humans but is very popular with flies and necrophagous insects.
The plants of this species are not very large, they do not exceed 40 centimeters in height but they widen a lot, developing erect and branched stems. In most cases the predominant color is green, bright green, but there are some specimens that can show off very different shades, reddish or even greyish.
Beyond the color of the branches, the flowers that have a star shape and are very large always sprout, dominate the silhouette of the plant because they can even have a diameter of 40 centimeters. They sprout in summer and remain until autumn, turning into fruits, in large pods with an elongated shape and a leathery consistency that contains the seeds. The seeds have very particular appearances. They are dark but plumed and much lighter than normal, which is why they are carried by the wind very far from their "mother" plant. They are released from the stapelia when it reaches the ripening stage.
Native to the tropical areas of South Africa, the Stapelia genus includes several varieties of succulent plants all belonging to the Asclepiadaceae family. It is quite obvious that he prefers positions in which he gets a lot of sun and is dry. In winter it does not withstand temperatures lower than 13 ° C, so even in many parts of Italy it is not easy to grow it outdoors. Always in winter, as well as in autumn, it is not necessary to water it too constantly and frequently, while in summer it is very important that watering is regular but always checking that the soil on the surface is dry before proceeding.
To understand what to do, just check and make sure that the soil is moist but never too much. The best soil for stapelia is the one mixed with coarse and well-drained sand, then during the vegetative restart and until late summer it is still necessary to fertilize the plant once a month with specific liquid fertilizer for succulents rich in macro and microelements. During the vegetative rest, it is absolutely necessary to suspend the fertilizations.
To multiply this plant, proceed in spring and you can choose whether to proceed by seed, by cutting and also by division of the tufts. Also as regards repotting, the right season is spring. It can be done every year or when you notice that many stems start to come out of the pot, gradually with containers of increasing diameter up to 30 centimeters, then just remember to exchange only the surface soil. Repotting is a more delicate operation than ever to carry out, in the case of Stapelia, because its branches are very fragile and tend to break very easily.
There are numerous health problems that this plant can encounter. Among animal parasites it suffers from the attack of mealy cochineal and it is necessary to remove it manually, also using specific products but by detaching and burning the most infested twigs. Another very big problem is that of root rot caused by water stagnation and which makes the stems soft and limp.
If we go in search of a Stapelia to buy, we will realize that there are many species and varieties.
The Flavopurpurea shows off a bright green and reaches an overall height of about 15 centimeters. If it grows in a bright environment they turn purple and produce yellow, orange and green flowers, star-shaped like all the others but with a pleasant scent. They are the only ones to have it! The other varieties have a very bad smell, including Acuminata, highly appreciated by collectors, with erect stems up to 40 centimeters and bright green on which dark red flowers with orange stamens and pistils sprout.
Grandiflora is also highly sought after by lovers of the genre. It has quite small flowers, up to 10 centimeters in diameter, but their deep purple color and thick and long tufts of hair make them very special. The Clavicorona shows stems of a particular greyish color and strongly toothed margins, produces flowers that can range from yellow to red, depending also on the exposure, and have thick hairs.
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