Orbea veriegata, Stapelia,Starfish flower, Carrion Cactus, Toad flower, 10-50 seeds
Common names: Carrion Cactus, Carrion Flower, Starfish Cactus, Star Flower, Starfish Plant, Toad Cactus, Toad Plant
Synonyms: Stapelia atrata, Stapelia ciliolulata, Stapelia clypeata, Stapelia hanburyana, Stapelia planiflora, Stapelia rugosa, Stapelia variegata
Orbea variegata, formerly known as Stapelia variegata, is a popular succulent with 4-angled toothed stems usually densely packed into a mat that may reach 3.3 feet (1 m). The stems are green, mottled with purple-brown. They are decumbent, up to 10 inches (25 cm) long, and up to 4 inches (1 cm) in diameter, excluding teeth. Flowers are highly variable in colour, but usually, they are speckled with purple-brown on a pale yellow background. They are star-shaped, up to 3.2 inches (8 cm) across, appear in late summer or fall, and have a faint carrion smell to attract potential insect pollinators. Seed pods are up to 5 inches (12.5 cm) long and look very much like two horns.
In the United Kingdom, Orbea variegata has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
This species is native to South Africa (Cape Province).
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings and feed the plants during the active growing seasons. Keep almost dry in the winter, but water sparingly occasionally to prevent wrinkling. As this plant comes from a winter rainfall area, it should be given a rest period with reduced watering during the summer months.
Soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. Therefore, it prefers a well-drained, sandy medium consisting of equal parts of washed river sand, potting soil, and topsoil.
Try to emulate its natural habitat, placing it to protect it from the sun during the hottest part of the day. This plant prefers the early morning or late afternoon sun. When grown as an ornamental plant in temperate zones, it requires protection, as it does not tolerate freezing temperatures.
Keeping Starfish plants 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.
Propagate by seed sown in early spring or cuttings of stem sections after the flowering.
Prepare the pot or container with well drained potting medium. You can use ready ready-mixed cactus potting medium or make your own with equal parts of peat (coco peat), perlite and coarse sand.
Water the medium well and place the seeds on surface, cover lightly with substrate and spray on top carefully without exposing the seeds.
Cover the pot with plastic bag to retain moisture and keep it in a bright spot away from direct sunlight. Recommended germination temperature 25-30°C, though my seeds germinated in just 2 days in a plastic contained on wet cotton at the room temperature about 20°C as you can see from the picture arttached.
After the seeds germinated you can gradually remove the cover and expose the young seedlings to cooler temperatures, but not lower then 20°C.
Water moderately, not letting the growing medium to dry up completely.
Orbea varieraga grown from seeds will take 2-3 years to produce flowers, but others make take 4 years or more.