What's blooming at Baltimore's Rawlings Conservatory?
Photo credit Michael Lemmon
Stapelias are succulents that are mostly native to Southern Africa. These stars of the desert are notable for large, unusual flowers that are star-like in shape and can grow up to 16 inches wide.
Unlike other plants that lure pollinators with bright colors or sweet nectar, these “carrion” flowers give off an unpleasant smell to attract flies and bees. It’s best to keep them outdoors when in bloom.
This species, the Stapelia Hirsuta has reddish brown blooms covered with fine purple hairs and reaches a magnificent 10 inches in diameter.
Since they grow naturally in the desert, stapelias require bright light, warm temperatures and a very well-drained type of soil. Most species do best in a climate that doesn’t fall below 60 degrees F.
They are prone to root rot so don’t overwater. Only water to lightly moisten the soil and let dry between watering. A good growing medium consists of equal parts perlite and an African violet mix.
They can be grown successfully indoors as long as they receive bright indirect sunlight and are kept warm.
Stapelias take a little more care than most succulents but if given the right conditions will reward you with a spectacular and unique flower.