S. grandiflora is native to South Africa (Cape Provinces, Free State, Lesotho, Northern Provinces), in these countries it grows in groups in the shade of shrubs in arid regions. In its original habitat this plant is disappearing.
S. grandiflora has a quadrangular pale green stem, but when it is exposed to direct sunlight for a long time the stem turns reddish, for this reason in nature it grows in the shade of shrubs. The plant grows in clumps that can reach 50 cm in diameter. The stem is made up of vertical hooks, arranged in ribs, it has no leaves so as not to lose water; the stem can photosynthesize, it is green because it contains chlorophyll indeed. Stem is short, it grows up to 10 cm in height. At the base of the plant, younger shoots bear very particular flowers. Flowers are large, dark red star fish-shaped, they are densely covered by long white hairs and in the centre of the flowers there is the gynostegium. The flower with its petals wrinkled by its colour and its smell looks like a carcass, flies are attracted by it indeed, and this is useful for the plant for the pollination; it is not uncommon to see the flies lay their eggs inside the flower. Fruits are follicles: a dry fruit with many woolly hairs that help the plant to spread the seed.
This plant can withstand a minimum temperature of 10°C if the plant is kept dry, so in the winter it can be placed indoors or in a greenhouse. It is advisable a light shade sun-exposure as the plant is used to growing in nature. Soil should be a mixture of loam and pumice or perlite to be well-drained. Stapelia requires moderately watering through the growing season but not in hot weather, during this time she likes a lot of water and some fertilizer, this helps them to flower luxuriantly. Flowers are intermittently produced throughout the late summer and autumn. The plant is easy to grow but it is also prone to the root rot, so you can stop watering in the winter. Repotting is recommended every 2 years.
Propagation can be easily done through seed or cutting. You can cut the stem to get a cutting, then it is advisable to let the cutting dry for a day before planting it. Seed can be sown in spring, but remember to water theme a lot. Seeds spend almost a year to ripe, but once ripen they will germinate in a few weeks.
Stapelia owes its name to Dutch botanist J. B. van Stapel, who lived in 1600.
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