Growing Starfish Flower Cactus
Starfish cacti (Stapelia Grandiflora) are also morbidly called carrion flowers.
These stinky but spectacular plants share similar characteristics to the carnivore family in that they have flora that attracts insects (but are not carnivores), ranging in size from 5 cm in height to plants that have 12 to 30 cm wide flowers.
This plant species is native to South Africa, so growing starfish flowers often require warm, humid temperatures or a specialized greenhouse environment.
These plants aren't exactly cacti, but they are members of the succulent plant group. They are soft-stemmed, spineless plants that extend from a central point.
They have thick skin and resemble carrion meat. The starfish flower cactus can produce amazing five-petal flowers that give off a very unpleasant odor.
The scent attracts flies and other insects, which pollinate the flowers. The flowers vary from red to brown and can be spotted with some colors.
Stapelia is the surname of the starfish flower cactus. The "giant" is the most commonly collected, as a showy specimen with foot-wide flowers.
Uses of starfish cactus
The flowers ripen with a horrible smell after a few days. This stench is attractive to insects looking for dead organic matter.
If you have an infestation of fruit flies or other pests, try moving your smelly plant, dear, to the area. The insects are attracted to the stench of carrion and are mesmerized by the flower, unable to move.
The most common uses for the starfish cactus are as an ornamental specimen, which is a topic of conversation. The wide, succulent branches have little ornamental use, but since the flowers arrive in summer, the plant has a high wow factor.
Of course, this is when you need to deal with the smell, but you can take it out if the smell is too unpleasant. Just remember to bring it back indoors if you live in any zone outside of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9-11.
Starfish cactus flower care
Growing starfish flowers as houseplants is ideal in most areas of the United States. You can take them outdoors in the heat of summer or grow them in a greenhouse.
These starfish flowers are easy to care for and thrive in a variety of light conditions. They will work well in whole or in part. Morning light is best with some protection from the strong midday rays.
The name starfish flower cactus is misleading. The plant needs constant humidity, unlike its true cactus cousins. Starfish flowers also like to have clustered roots, so store them in a 10-15cm pot with well-drained soil.
Fertilize with a half dilution of indoor plant foods in early spring.
Growing starfish flowers from cuttings
If you can stand the smell, you can let the flowers die and the seeds form. Collect the seeds and start them up in a warm area to propagate more of these interesting plants.
Much easier still is propagation by cuttings. Remove a 3 to 4 inch (7.5 to 10 cm) section of the stem and let the cutting finish with the callus.
Place the cut end in the slightly moistened peat moss. Pot the seedling in low light pots and keep the soil moist but not too wet or it will rot.
Over time, the cutting will grow into a plant. Convert the baby plant to regular soil and continue with the recommended starfish flower care.
This is a less stinky method of growing starfish flowers and allows you to share this fascinating plant with friends and family.
We hope you enjoy this video about Starfish Cactus flowers:
Source: MY Tropical Plant Adventures
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