Star Cactus Flower: Flowering Time, Care & Bloom

Star Cactus Flower: Flowering Time, Care & Bloom

Orbea variegata, also called Stapelia variegata is a wildly plant with branched, the stems being prostrate or erect at least 10 inches (25 centimeters) long. The stems are four-angled, teethed, and grey-green with red shades when in full sun. The flowers are star-shaped and can be up to 3.2 inches (8 centimeters) across white or yellow, heavily speckled with maroon, and bloom in the autumn or late in summer.

Scientific Name

Orbea variegata (L.) Haw.

Common Name(s)

Carrion Cactus, Carrion Flower, Starfish Cactus, Star Flower, Starfish Plant, Toad Cactus, Toad Plant


Stapelia atrata, Stapelia ciliolulata, Stapelia clypeata, Stapelia hanburyana, Stapelia planiflora, Stapelia rugosa, Stapelia variegata

The flat and very curious flowers are carried by a peduncle of 4 to 5 cm. It forms a beautiful waxy and leathery star, yellow speckled with brown, 6 to 8 cm in diameter. The sexual parts are extremely modified: the center of the flower presents a crown in the center of which is located the stigma .

Pollen is divided into pollinia as in orchids. They are well-protected beneath the crown. It requires strong mechanical force to be moved to fertilize the flower. This is normally done by insects. Flies are indeed attracted by this enchanting flower its scent and colors tend to be like those of meat that has been spoiled.

Luckily Stapelia variegata does not appear to be particularly fragrant when compared with other Stapelia. If fertilization is present it will produce two large beans, joined at the base, both green colored with red, and won’t be able to release their seeds until the spring following. They are flat with bristles that allow the seeds to disperse by winds.

How do I get my star cactus to bloom?

star cactus to bloom

There are many reasons you might be longing to see a star-shaped bloom on your cactus, but the best way to make it happen is to give it what it wants.

There are a number of things you can do to encourage flowering in your plant, but they all begin with one key element: direct morning light. With regular waterings (making sure the soil dries out in between) and a diluted nitrogen-rich fertilizer during the summer, you can give your cactus the best chance of blooming.

One of the most important factors in getting a cactus to flower is light. Most cacti can’t handle a lot of direct sunlight, but they do need some—even a few hours a day will help. The ideal time of day for photosynthesis is usually in the morning, so place your cactus where it gets direct light in the mornings if possible. You may even consider moving it outside during the summer months and bringing it back in before bedtime (if you live in an area with mild temperatures).

How do you know when a cactus is going to flower?

What’s the best way to know when a cactus is going to flower? When it has buds on it!

The only way to tell if a cactus will bloom is by looking for buds. If you don’t see any, it’s safe to say that your cactus will not bloom.

Cacti are very sensitive plants, so they might not bloom if you don’t care for them properly or provide enough water.

Orbea variegata, star cactus

star cactus flower

Growing succulents and cacti is a popular trend in gardening right now, so it’s no surprise that they can be found in many homes and offices. One of the most beautiful succulents that you can find is the Orbea variegata or starfish cactus. This plant has a very interesting shape, being all star-shaped, and its flowers are gorgeous as well.

Orbea variegata: starfish flowers

Orbea variegata (or Stapelia variegata ) is a succulent plant native to Africa that belongs to the Asclepiadaceae family also called stapelias. Its particularity remains its flat flower in the shape of a starfish.

“On average, you can expect a baby plant to bloom in two years with just one or two flowers.”


The starfish cactus blooms at the end of summer. Its flowers are borne on a stem that can reach up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall with a spread up to 3.3 feet (1 m), but the actual circumference of the flower is only 6-8 cm. The flower is speckled yellow and brown, with an almost chocolate tone.

This plant, which has been given the name Orbea variegata , is native to South Africa, where it grows on rocky hillsides. It needs a dry climate. Only certain flies are able to pollinate this plant whose heart is reminiscent of an orchid. To attract them, Orbea variegata smells like rotting meat!

Source: Orbea variegata

The heart of this plant is its flower. The smell attracts flies that visit sporadically during late summer from October to December. They do not always carry pollen on their feet but their visits are the only way for Orbea variegata to reproduce. 


Orbea variegata (starfish cactus) is a cactus with no leaves of any kind. It has rods that serve the same purpose. The stems can grow up to 25 cm in length. It is an evergreen plant, a creeping plant.

Cultivation of variegated blindness

It is easy to cultivate Orbea variegata however it is important to shield it from cold. It is usually cultivated inside or in a frost-free area. greenhouse or Veranda. The most important conditions for it are warm temperatures and a well-drained substrate.


Orbea variegata (starfish cactus) requires light, but be aware avoid exposing it to sunlight during the hottest times of the day. It also requires warm temperatures (15 to 25degC from the beginning of spring until the autumn).


It must imperatively be well-drained, as with most succulents. In particular, it is recommended to mix 1/3 of sand with 2/3 of garden soil to facilitate drainage. 

Pot culture and wintering

Orbea variegata is generally grown in pots because the plant does not tolerate temperatures below 5°C. It is therefore necessary to be able to put the pots in a frost-free but the bright room that does not exceed 15°C in winter. The plant needs a real period of rest with a drop in temperature. It will only be more beautiful the following season.


Watering ceases in winter. In spring, and summer, we water (without excess water in the pot) then we wait for the root ball to be completely dry before proceeding to a new watering. It is a drought-resistant plant.


Its growth is slow. About 25 to 30 cm per year from the 2nd year.


In the fall, after flowering, the stems are removed. New ones will appear: they are the ones that will give flowers.

Other Orbea species

  • Orbea carnosa  : smaller, fleshy flower
  • Orbea lutea  : yellow star
  • Orbea cooperi  : red and gray flower
  • Stapelia Grandiflora  : huge red hairy flower.


Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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