Gonostemon montanus var. grossus
Stapelia montana var. grossa
Stapelia montana is native to Cape Provinces.
Stapelia montana is a small beautiful succulent belonging to the Asclepiadaceae botanical family. The plant forms clumps and has an erect, quadrangular, fleshy, dull green stems that can reach up to 12 cm in height. The stem is arranged in four ribs made of rounded hooked tubercles. The color of the stem can change from green to purple, depending on temperatures and sun exposure. Blooming occurs in summer and the blossoms are borne at the basal region of the plant. The flowers are star-shaped, penta-lobed, flat, pale greenish brown outside, up to 15 cm in diameter. The corolla is purple to wine red with yellow stamens and is waxy and glabrous. The pollination is carried out by flies and the fruits are follicles that divide when ripe and spread small brown seeds covered by long white hairs. The flower gives off an unpleasant smell that resembles the smell of a carcass but which is useful for attracting flies and promoting pollination.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The plant does not like temperatures below 12°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 12 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The soil should be a well-draining and porous soil, so you can use a standard cactus soil or a mix of fertile soil and sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. During the vegetative period you can water the plant every 5 days with half a glass of water, checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Stapelia owes its name to Dutch Botanist J. B. van Stapel, who lived in 1600.
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