34 Types of Stapelia: Care and Propagation Guide

Stapelia is a low-growing, perennial succulent that comes in several colors such as pink, purple, green and red. The plant traces its origin to South Africa and is distinguished by big, beautiful flowers. The attractive star-shaped flowers of this cactus make it truly amazing to look at.

Types of Stapelia

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How Do You Care for Stapelia?

If you have Stapelia at home and are wondering how to keep it blooming, we can help you with certain tips. You don’t need to do a lot as these are not very high on maintenance. Just a few simple steps and you will be done!

Light

This is a plant that loves shade rather than the sun. So, you are more likely to see it thriving if you live in colder parts of the world. A winter temperature of 10 degrees Celsius is a good temperature for Stapelia.

Do not place the plant in an area that gets a lot of sunlight because that may lead to the plant getting burned. Partial shade is ideal for the growth of Stapelia.

Watering

You need to read the signs given by the plant to meet its watering needs. The watering should be infrequent and you must give the plant time to dry out between two watering sessions. Overwatering can be dangerous.

During the winter months, you should water the plant even lesser and see if the leaves show any signs of shriveling. In case the plant looks withered, you can spray it with water.

Soil

The more delicate species of Stapelia will thrive best in clay pots. You will also need to mix the soil with some good compost to ensure proper nutrition for the plant. Mineral-only compost works very well for Stapelia and can keep both the plant healthy and free of pests.

Fertilizing

This succulent does not need fertilizers. If you ensure the right light and watering needs and ensure soil that is ideal for its growth, your plant will be happy.

Pests and Diseases

Stapelia is prone to getting attacked by mealy bugs. You would have to be cautious about this. You can also notice some damage to the stem by insects. The key thing is to not overwater because that may lead to rot in the roots and also make the succulent susceptible to bug infestation.

Furthermore, you need to spray the plant with good-quality insecticide periodically to keep it healthy and thriving.

How to Propagate Stapelia?

stapelia

One of the reasons people love Stapelia is because they are easy to propagate and maintain. This works well for even those who don’t have a green thumb but still want to have a plant like this adorn their home.

Propagating Stapelia from stem cuttings is ideal. Follow these steps for the best results:

  • Cut a stem from a mature Stapelia succulent.
  • Let the stem be for some time so that it dries out well.
  • Create a good potting mix simultaneously and once the stem is dry, plant the stem in the mix. Make sure you don’t plant the stem too deep. This may lead to potential rot.
  • Water the plant periodically and do not forget to place it in indirect sunlight. When you have just propagated Stapelia, steer away from overwatering the plant as it will make it rot.

Sometimes, people also propagate Stapelia with seeds; but stem propagation works really well and, therefore, is more popular.

You should also repot this succulent once every year. This can be a good way of preventing rots and bug infestation. Though it is not necessary, it can be a good exercise. Make sure to choose the right container that offers good drainage and aeration.

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Stapelia Species and Varieties

Stapelia clavicorona

Stapelia clavicorona

Stapelia clavicorona consists of 1-10 (occasionally up to 100), fairly robust stems (by far one of the most robust stems in the genus) that are deeply indented between the angles. Flower too is one of the most unusual of all staps.

Flowers are star-shaped and relatively small (c. 50-60 mm in diameter).

Stapelia divaricata

Stapelia divaricata

Stapelia divaricata is a small stapeliad (6-12 cm tall) whit green grey and reddish angular stems (pencil-sized diameter 0,5-1cm) branching and forming tillers from the base, the epidermis is somewhat velvety.

Stapelia engleriana

Stapelia engleriana

Stapelia engleriana is an uncommon species with thick, divaricately branched stems up to 30 cm long, softly pubescent, grey-green or dark green in color, with small spreading teeth. The characteristic thick, square, prostrate to rhizomatous stems resembles that of some succulent Euphorbias and are easily identifiable.

In contrast to most other species, the, rather long-stalked flowers appear from mid-stem upwards. The dark purple-brown or chocolate-colored flowers are characterized by the fact that the triangular corolla lobes roll back completely and lie on the underside of the broad cup-shaped corolla tube.

The flowers thus appear somewhat Turk’s-cap-like, circular in outline and sometimes last for more than a week. It is generally a less attractive plant with an untidy habit due to new growth starting from points where the stem has been damaged or broken.

Stapelia flavopurpurea

Stapelia flavopurpurea

Stapelia flavopurpurea is a tufted cactus-like plant to 10 cm, with wonderful small-sized flowers that have a diameter of only 3cm. They are flat, shaped like a starfish, and quinquefid interrupted by irregularly arranged cross wrinkles.

Their color is eyecatching: yellow, green, orange, or purple, white, with maroon overtones. The center of the flower is white and covered with red claviform hairs. The combination of colors is quite bizarre and lovely, very variable, even on the same plant.

S. flavopurpurea is one of the few species whose flowers are not distinguished by a penetrating smell of carrion but, on the contrary, have a light sweet smell like liquorice or honey, unusual in the Stapelia group. Flowers with these scents may well be pollinated by bee, because the enticement of insects depends not only on color but also in a high degree on smell. The smells involved are not in every case the pleasant kinds produced by violets and roses. Stapelia flavopurpurea is closely related to Stapelia olivacea.

Stapelia gariepensis

Stapelia gariepensis

Stapelia gariepensis is an uncommon species from Namaqualand, South Africa. Beautiful flowers about 10cm diameter, red-brown and hairy, borne on long stems which in habitat lie flat on the ground.

Stapelia gettleffii

Stapelia gettliffei

Stapelia gettliffei is a stem succulent that resembles a cactus; the branches are velvety, spineless, quadrangular in cross-section and determinate, ceasing growth when less than 25 cm tall, may form big clumps up to1 m in the spread. The striking star-shaped flowers have long pedicels and lie face-up on the ground around the plant; the corolla (diameter about 15 cm) is marked in purple lines on a cream-colored background, the disc densely covered with soil purple hairs around the corona, the margins ciliate in white.

The peculiar fashion in which the unusually large rudimentary leaves are disposed, in an erect position close to the angles of the stem, at once distinguish it from all the allied species even when it is out of flower. Although S. gettliffei appears to be the most widely accepted spelling it also frequently appears as either S. gettleffei or S. gettlefii.

Stapelia gigantea

S. gigantea is a stem succulent that resembles a cactus; the branches are velvety, spineless, quadrangular in cross-section and determinate, ceasing growth when about 10 to 30 cm tall, may form big clumps up to1 m in the spread.

Stapelia glanduliflora

Stapelia glanduliflora

Stapelia glanduliflora is known for its very handsome and highly curious star-shaped flowers clothed on the upper side with white glandular club-shaped hairs. The name glanduliflora means ‘acorn-shaped flower’ and presumably refers to the appearance of the bud.

Stapelia grandiflora

Stapelia grandiflora is a tufted cactus-like plant with large and showy star-fish shaped flowers. Stapelia grandiflora is a very variable species with many hybrids both in the wild and in cultivation. This species meets and intergrades with Stapelia hirsuta in the little Karoo and the two (quite similar) species can be separated by its thicker pedicel.

Stapelia hirsuta

Stapelia hirsuta (a.k.a. African starfish flowers) is best known for its foul-smelling flowers. It blooms a large star and it is 5 to 15 cm wide.

S. hirsuta is a very variable species with many hybrids both in the wild and in cultivation. Since the various forms are connected by intermediates it is extremely difficult to recognize infraspecific taxa.

Stapelia leendertziae

Stapelia leendertziae

Stapelia leendertziae is a tufted creeping or procumbent plant that trails and hangs down over the pot. In the ground, it forms dense carpets or cushions up to 1 meter (or more) in diameter.

Stapelia mutabilis

Stapelia mutabilis

Stapelia mutabilis is a controversial name describing almost certainly a hybrid raised from seeds of Tromotriche revoluta (Stapelia revoluta), Masson, cross-fertilized by insect agency. There are several forms of it in cultivation, differing slightly in coloration and varying very much in the lobes of the outer corona, which in some forms rest upon the annulus and in others do not nearly touch it and are very variably toothed at the apex. The flowers remain expanded from 4–7 days.

Stapelia obducta

Stapelia obducta

Stapelia obducta has corolla recurved around 5 cm in diameter. When flat (only in just-opened flowers) deeply lobed. The corolla will soon curl backward giving the flowers a very unusual sight like a strange red animal.

Stapelia olivacea

Stapelia olivacea

Stapelia olivacea is an uncommon S. African tufted species that stems about 10 cm tall. It has few-flowered basal inflorescences with small evil-scented flowers (up to 4 cm in diameter), held distinctively upright, reddish-yellow, olive-green, sometimes almost black in color with transverse brown lines in which the corolla-lobes are ciliate with flat non-vibratile hairs.

The plants are large and rather compactly branched at the base with thin fuzzy grey stems held erect in a closely parallel grouping, that sometimes spread for up to 50 or more cm. It is closely related to Stapelia pearsonii.

Stapelia paniculata

Stapelia paniculata

Stapelia paniculata subsp. scitula

Stapelia paniculata subsp. scitula

The Small Starfish Flower, Stapelia paniculata subsp. scitula, is a cute and pretty miniature version of the larger Stapelias, its slender, light green stems are no more than 7 mm across and 8 cm in height and form compact clumps. Throughout the year, it is adorned with proportionately diminutive star-shaped blooms, each less than 2.5 cm across, magenta or dark chestnut-brown with or without yellowish bands and densely covered with purple or maroon hairs.

The flowers do not have the strong, fetid odor typical of stapeliads, but have a delicate foul fragrance and one has to sniff closely to pick up on it. This would not be an offensive house plant even when in bloom. It is a free-blooming species and at times prolific.

Stapelia rufa

Stapelia rufa

Stapelia rufa is a tufted cactus-like plant that grows up to 100-220 mm tall, with small-sized and showy dull, dark purple, dark red or yellow star-fish-shaped flowers.

The flowers appear at random on the stem, but mainly at the base of the four-cornered velvety branches, the peduncles are shorter than the corolla which is transversely wrinkled, with a shallow depression at the center and pointed lobes, minutely ciliate at the edge, glabrous at the base, but with pubescent tips, a very unusual combination. Corona raised, outer lobes subquadrate, orange; inner lobes erect, oblong black. This species flowers in spring.

Stapelia schinzii

Stapelia schinzii

Stapelia schinzii is known by its very handsome and highly curious star-shaped flowers with hairs along the edges of the petals. Compared to the stems, the dark red to maroon flowers are relatively large (about 10-20 cm in diameter). This is the species with the largest flowers in Namibia and is closely related to the threatened Stapelia pillansii.

The plants are large and robust and form lax clumps, that sometimes spread for up to 1 m with stems arising from a short horizontal base. Stapelia schinzii and occasional species in other genera (Orbea ciliata, and Stultitia cooperi to name only the most striking) present one of the most fascinating phenomena of plant life, they have clavate and strongly vibratile hairs that form a fringe along the edge of the corolla lobes. These hairs hardly remain still and start trembling in the slightest breeze, possibly attracting insects.

Stapelia schinzii var. angolensis

Stapelia schinzii var. angolensis

Stapelia schinzii var. angolensis is known by its very handsome and highly curious dark red to maroon flowers with hairs along the edges of the petals. It is similar to var. angolensis, but has generally smaller flowers ( only about 8 cm in diameter) borne on more slender, scarcely toothed stems which adopt a creeping habit.

Stapelia schinzii var. bergeriana

Stapelia schinzii var. bergeriana

Stapelia schinzii var. bergeriana (formerly Stapelia bergeriana) is a robust clump-forming perennial succulent, that sometimes spread for up to 1 m with stems arising from a short horizontal base. It is distinguished for its smooth and shiny corolla, the lobes are wider dull flesh-colored becoming creamy white in the center.

Along the edge of the corolla lobes, there are club-shaped and strongly vibratile hairs that form a fringe. These hairs hardly remain still and start trembling in the slightest breeze, possibly attracting insects.

Stapelia similis

Stapelia similis

Stapelia similis is a tufted cactus-like plant with small-sized and showy dark purple star-fish-shaped flowers. It is a variable species with several forms both in the wild and in cultivation. Stapelia similis the “similar Stapelia” reflects in its name the close relationships in appearance it has with Stapelia kwebensis, Stapelia kwebensis var. longipedicellata and Stapelia parvula along with it forms a closely related group.

Stapelia unicornis

Stapelia unicornis

Stapelia unicornis is a stem succulent that resembles a cactus; the branches are erect to decumbent, velvety, spineless, quadrangular in cross-section and determinate, quadrangular in cross-section and determinate, ceasing growth when less than 15 cm tall, may form stout clumps up to1 m in the spread.

The striking star-shaped flowers are ochreous yellow and about 100 mm in diameter. The five spreading lobes are finely cross-striated with raised reddish lines, covered with silky hairs, tips tapering and recurving. The center of the flower is almost bowl-shaped. It is strictly related to Stapelia gigantea but has smaller flowers with a decidedly bowl-shaped limb and is immediately identifiable by its different inner corona lobes.

Stapelia villetiae

Stapelia villetiae

Stapelia villetiae is an uncommon S. African species forming clumps of stems about 15 cm tall. It is known by its very handsome and highly curious star-shaped flowers held distinctively upright, 6.5 cm across, blackish in color with transverse yellowish lines. The plants are large and robust and form lax clumps, that sometimes spread for up to 50 or more cm with stems arising from a short horizontal base. It is related to Stapelia cedrimontana.

FAQs

Stapelia is an easy-to-grow succulent that would indeed look pretty sitting on your balcony. It can also make your workplace come alive with its alluring charm and simplicity. Here are a couple of frequently asked questions about Stapelia that you must know about. Read on!

How Often Do Stapelia Bloom?

A baby Stapelia plant can be expected to bloom in two years. As it matures, you can see more blooming and flowering. Of course, maintenance plays a key role and if you meet its lighting, watering and soil needs, you will have more bloom.

The better the light and water needs are met, the heavier blooming and flowering you will see. If you place the plant in a damp place, for instance, the flowering will get severely impacted.

How Do You Get Stapelia to Flower?

Warm weather and exposure to bright, indirect sunlight make Stapelia bloom. There is nothing special that you need to do. Just make sure to water the plant just right and ensure that the soil and the container are ideal. Doing simple things well is underrated, but that is the secret to getting Stapelia to flower.