Live to Plant

Starfish Flower Plant Care (Stapelia Grandiflora)

Updated: December 30, 2022

The Starfish flower plant is an amazing succulent plant that gets its name from blooming star shaped flowers that resemble a starfish.

Does the Starfish Flower Plant Have Any Other Names?

Scientists classify the South African native plants to the genus Stapelia under the Apocynaceae family. The flowering plant bears other names, such as the starfish flower, carrion plant, and the giant toad plant.

The Starfish Flower plant goes by many names such as:

  1. Carrion Flower
  2. Starfish Cactus
  3. Stapelia Grandiflora (Scientific botanical name)

Different Types of Starfish Snake Plants

There are multiple Stapelia species, all comprising of distinct features. For instance, their flower hairiness, color, and size are distinguishable features. The S. grandiflora, S. hirsuta, and S. gigantea are among species easily grown globally.

After initial success with these species, you might expand into other categories. You can also grow stapelia hybrids which occur either through hand pollination or fly-pollination. Their seeds remain viable for up to one year.

Main Uses of Starfish Plants

Multiple species of the genus Stapelia are grown, especially for ornamental purposes. Although the succulent branches are not impressive to many, the summer-time flowers of these species are attractive.

These flowers ripen in days, giving a stinky odor. Some people use the stench to attract insects away from occupied areas like homes.

How to Prune Starfish Plants

The plants are low maintenance since they rarely require pruning. It is often unnecessary since their thick and fleshy leaves are their attraction points. You could only prune them for propagation when the branches or when removing their yellow leaves.

Best Soil For Starfish Plants

If you plan to grow the starfish plant, prepare sandy and loosely-packed soil for planting. Its loose nature helps drain excess water, which could harm plants after prolonged exposure. Perlite is often mixed in with soil to retain moisture while preventing the Stapelia stems from rotting because of excess water. Succulent plants such as cacti and starfish plants also flourish in soilless potting mixes.

These are several examples of planting soils you could use when dealing with the Stapelia species, but the bottom line is avoiding overly dense soils.

How Much Light Do Starfish Plants Need?

These succulent plants enjoy direct sunlight because of their desert adaptation. A south-facing sunny window might be ideal for maximal sunlight. Despite this, they also thrive in partial or complete shade. Note that depriving them of light for long periods makes their branches lose their attractive green color and become leggy.

How Often to Water Starfish Plants

You should only water starfish plants after the soil dries out. This process might take a week to ten days. It would help if you watered them every few weeks throughout summer and less during winter.

After drenching the potting mix in room temperature water and drying it out, place the plants in a sunny area.

Waiting for the potting mix to completely dry does not harm the plant since they are naturally drought tolerant. Before watering, test out the moisture levels of the soil. Also, ensure the plant leaves do not build up excess water since the hardy branches become mushy.

Ideal Temperature Conditions for Starfish Plants

Even though these plants have adapted to dry weather conditions, exposing them to harsh climate affects their growth and condition. Regulating the temperature is vital to their survival.

They prefer warm outdoor environments with temperatures between 15 and 26 degrees Celsius. These temperature ranges also allow for comfortable indoor growth.

Humidity Conditions for Starfish Plants

Native to South Africa, these plants grow hardy requiring less water and humidity. They enjoy adequate humidity and dry air circulation.

Their tendency to flourish in dry air makes the succulents ideal for indoor plants. Since indoor air is drier, they thrive when correctly watered, boosting their moisture levels.

Best Fertilizer for Starfish Plants

The desert plant does not require constant feeding since growing in the sandy soils in South Africa, and they survive with minimal nutrition. A potting mix grown plant can, however, be fed monthly for their benefit.

Experts believe that feeding the plants the half-strength fertilizer for succulents when they grow is crucial and that people should not feed them during winter. They are slow growers; therefore, overfeeding might cause salts and minerals accumulation in the succulent desert plants.

How to Propagate Starfish Plants

While several methods of propagation exist, plant division is effective in starfish plants. The plants produce small leaves, known as pups, near their base, which generally bear underground rhizomes. Carefully divide the plant, ensuring every section bears at least three roots before repotting them. The divided sections slowly develop into new plants.

Growth Rate of Starfish Plants

After being slightly buried in a fast-draining potting mix, the papery seeds need water regularly. They require bright but indirect light, offered through a sealed bag.

Experts believe venting the bag weekly allows for minimum moisture and air exchange. When your seedlings are a few centimeters tall, vent the plastic bag over time, allowing them to gradually adjust to the room air.

Quality seeds sprout in a week, with the slowest shooting at two. Precocious plants flower aged three while others take about one or two years longer. The flowers also bloom at different times worldwide because of different conditions. In South Africa, their native country, they bloom from November to March.

Ideal Pot Size for Starfish Plants

These plants enjoy having crowded roots. Separating them earlier on makes the starfish plant species struggle, causing growth issues. Growing them in a ten to fifteen-centimeter pot gives them a thriving space before repotting developed pups.

Repotting Tips for Starfish Plants

As succulent desert plants, these species grow even with dry conditions. Home-grown plants require you to report them after specific periods. If your plant looks crammed up, you can repot it by choosing a 1 inch larger pot. You could also keep your plant in the same pot while changing the soil after 1 to 2 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Starfish Plants Edible?

While many reptiles will enjoy snacking on several of these succulent plants, their long spikes pose a threat to humans. They are not edible by human beings since their mild toxic levels cause discomfort.

Are Starfish Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

The different stapelia species have mild toxicity causing cases of vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach problems. It is best if you keep the plant away from your pets, avoiding health problems.

Is The Starfish Plant Poisonous?

The species have no extreme poisoning incident apart from slight discomfort experienced when ingested.

Do Starfish Plants Prefer To Grow Indoors Or Outside?

Starfish plant species conveniently thrive both outdoors and indoors with appropriate conditions. For instance, whether in or out, they require temperatures ranging above 10 degrees Celsius.


The starfish plant species are excellent indoor and outdoor plants that are not demanding. Their maintenance is low, diseases are preventable, and they serve as great conversation starters at home.