How To Grow & Care For the Starfish Plant

The Starfish Plant, an intriguing succulent, is widely admired for its unique appearance, resembling a starfish’s arms. The striking aesthetic is characterized by its thick, fleshy stems that spread outwards, mimicking the shape of a starfish. This unconventional look makes it a popular choice for indoor decoration and succulent collections.

The plant’s scientific name, Stapelia gigantea, alludes to its potential for large growth, and the flowers can be particularly impressive. The flowers, often seen in late summer and early autumn, are large, star-shaped, and have a somewhat unpleasant odor that attracts pollinating flies.

The Starfish Plant is native to parts of South Africa, where it thrives in arid conditions. Its ability to adapt to a variety of environments has led to its spread across different regions and its popularity among plant enthusiasts. Let’s dive into the characteristics and care requirements for this fascinating plant.

Common NamesStarfish Plant, Starfish Flower, Carrion Plant
Botanical NameStapelia gigantea
Plant TypeSucculent
Mature Size12-15 inches tall
Sun ExposureFull sun to partial shade
Soil TypeWell-drained, sandy soil
Hardiness Zones9-11
Native AreaSouth Africa

Starfish Plant Care

The Starfish Plant is relatively easy to care for, making it an excellent choice for novice gardeners or those looking for low-maintenance houseplants. While it thrives in typical succulent conditions, paying attention to its specific needs can ensure a thriving and visually appealing plant.

Given the proper environment and care, the Starfish Plant can flourish both indoors and outdoors. Adhering to the best practices regarding light, soil, water, and temperature will enable you to enjoy this unique plant’s natural beauty.

Light Requirement for Starfish Plant

The Starfish Plant prefers a lot of sunlight but can tolerate some shade. Indoors, place it near a window with strong, indirect light. Outdoors, it can tolerate direct sunlight, but partial shade during the hottest part of the day is ideal.

Soil Requirements for Starfish Plant

Well-draining soil is essential for the Starfish Plant. A cactus or succulent mix is usually perfect. If planting outdoors, sandy or rocky soil will suffice, as long as it allows for proper drainage.

Water Requirements for Starfish Plant

Water sparingly, as the Starfish Plant is susceptible to root rot if overwatered. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings. During the winter, reduce watering further, as the plant is in its dormant phase.

Temperature and Humidity

The Starfish Plant thrives in warm temperatures and low humidity, typical of its native South African habitat. It can tolerate mild frost, but it is best to bring it indoors if temperatures drop below freezing.


A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer designed for cacti and succulents can be applied sparingly during the growing season. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to leggy growth and fewer flowers.

Pruning Starfish Plant

Pruning is not typically required but can be done to shape the plant or remove dead or damaged stems. Use clean, sharp scissors or pruning shears to make clean cuts.

Propagating Starfish Plant

Propagation is often done through stem cuttings. Cut a healthy stem, allow it to dry for a day or two, then plant in well-draining soil. Rooting hormone can help stimulate growth.

How To Grow Starfish Plant From Seed

Growing from seed is possible but requires patience. Plant seeds in a well-draining soil mix, keep the soil slightly moist, and provide plenty of indirect sunlight. Germination can take several weeks.

Common Pests & Plant Diseases


Treat with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Root Rot

Caused by overwatering; ensure proper drainage and water sparingly.

Common Problems With Starfish Plant


Caused by overwatering; reduce watering frequency.

Lack of Flowering

May be due to insufficient sunlight or over-fertilization.

Pro Tips

  1. Keep the plant away from pets and children, as it may be mildly toxic if ingested.
  2. Avoid placing it near areas where the flower’s odor might be problematic.
  3. Plant in a container with drainage holes to prevent water buildup.
  4. Pair with other succulents or desert plants for a themed garden.
  5. Monitor closely for pests, as succulents can be susceptible to infestations.