Stapelia paniculata var. scitula
Ceropegia paniculata subsp. scitula
S. paniculata var. scitula is native to Cape Provinces where the plant grows on dolomitic slopes up to 600 m of altitude.
S. paniculata is a rare and dwarf succulent belonging to the Asclepiadaceae botanical family. The plant forms clumps and has an erect, cylindrical, fleshy, light green stems that can reach up to 8 cm in height. The stem is arranged in four ribs made of rounded hooked tubercles. The rudimental leaves are acutely ovate and fall off when ripe. It is a free-blooming species. The basal florescence is made of several flower opening successively. The blossoms are starfish-shaped, penta-lobed, curved outwards, pale green outside and up to 1 cm in size. The corolla is magenta or dark brown inside, densely covered with long maroon hairs. The fruits are follicles and when ripe they split up and spread small brown seed covered by long white hairs.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 12°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. 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. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fastest method of propagation is to use stem cuttings but is also possible to propagate the plant 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. 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 soil 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. The specific name comes from the Latin word ‘scitulus’ that means ‘neat’ for the stems that stand neatly erect.
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