Stapelia variegata or Orbea variegata growing and caring tips

It is rare, unusual, whimsical in its easy-care ways and yet it is not a plant that looks too much. The reason may be at the end of the article. Its flower is really surprising and its care, being a crass plant, is not especially complicated. If you want a different plant and flower, try this lizard flower or Stapelia variegata .


We have already talked at length about this type of plants in Gardenprue. They are usually easy-care plants, adapted to rather hot and dry climates, with little rainfall. Hence its fleshy leaves, with a high content of stored water, which can be used in times of long droughts. This characteristic gives us the opportunity to have in our homes or gardens (if the climate allows it), a series of plants that allow us flexibility in their care, and many of them even with great properties such as Aloe vera .

The xeriscape , and also commented on our tour as a blog, is a form of gardening in which succulents and cacti play a key role. What is true is that many times, the blooms of this type of plant do not stand out excessively (be careful with cacti whose blooms are usually very spectacular).

If you want to add a truly curious flower from a crassulaceous, here you have Stapelia variegata . Highly recommended for beginners due to its easy cultivation. Those who cultivate it and have it will attest that it always or almost always flourishes.


What undoubtedly characterizes the commonly called lizard flower, is precisely that, the flower. It has an unusual texture reminiscent of lizard skin. Still we cannot leave aside the vegetative part. Succulents usually have very whimsical shapes and this is one that does not disappoint in this regard. The almost spiny stems grow like claws, without apparent direction and sometimes with little order.


The synonymy of the scientific name has its that. Stapelia variegata is earlier. Orbea variegata is more up to date. Orbea  comes from orbis which means circular or spherical. In Latin the world (planet) is referred to as Orbi . Hence the papal expression “Urbi et orbi” (to Rome and the World).

Spanish words such as orbit, exorbitant, have this same root and all refer to something circular. In the case that concerns us (the flower), the central part of it (circular) is so characteristic that the name Orbea takes the same root for this singular characteristic. The etymology can often give us the why of the names.


If we talk about a plant in Gardenprue, it is to give you the way to grow it successfully, so here we go.


The lizard flower or Stapelia variegata , needs rather warm temperate temperatures. Although its optimum growth rate is around 25ºC or some more, not much less, it will be the temperature of a house. We always talk about optimal and 21ºC is more than enough . Its minimum is around 10ºC. Below this temperature the plant can begin to suffer. Of course nothing to say about freezing temperatures. Some adult specimens could withstand them if they are very light and the plant is in optimal conditions but it is not adequate and surely with some other visible damage.


Although it tolerates semi-shaded places well with some sun, as it is crassulaceous, it does not mind direct sun. If the weather is too hot, the stems may turn red or purple. Monitor this and calibrate the doses of sun.


Drain . It is from the little that he asks for. In this case with a certain peculiarity. Suffers a lot from neck rot. To avoid this, the substrate must be composed of gravel on top so that it drains quickly to lower layers and the neck is kept as dry as possible.

It can be paid but is not essential. With a specific fertilizer for succulent plants or cacti it could also be worth it.


Although it requires moderate watering (not to be confused with a cactus), it does not tolerate flooding at all. Rot is assured. We say it on many occasions, although here it is more remarkable to sin by default than by excess with irrigation.

Of course, it is necessary to ensure that the substrate does not dry out completely in hot periods. Ideally, it should be with very little humidity. Summer requires a little more attention in this regard. In winter we have to stop watering or water it practically nothing. Ambient humidity is an important point to control. The less the better. It is more of a plant with very dry and ventilated environments.



Simple, by stem cutting. Usually easy rooting. It is also very simple by seed. They germinate easily.

Winter rest

Like the odd crass plant, it appreciates a cool winter rest, not being entirely necessary if you can’t, but it comes in handy. Around 15ºC will be enough and no watering or very very occasional. It is already a matter of looking for the most suitable place depending on the climate in which you find yourself to adapt it.

Scent of flowers

We have wanted to leave this until last. After extolling all the goodness of the Stapelia variegata , touch on the slightly unpleasant part. The smell of its flower. It is a bit intense and unpleasant and can smell really bad . Its function: to attract insects for pollination.

They depend on them 100% to pollinate themselves and the way they have to ensure survival is by creating putrid odors. It’s that simple and daunting to grow indoors, right?

Taking into account that it is only the flowers that smell, in the vegetative seasons it can be moved indoors without danger of having a somewhat strange air freshener.

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