The popularity of succulents among people who love houseplants has been evident since 2017 and the obsession hasn’t stopped since then. It probably only grew stronger with the years. Especially in 2020 when the people turning to plants as a hobby rose with the quarantine protocols everywhere.
One evidence of how popular succulents are is the ease of getting one. You can buy them almost anywhere. You’d see them in grocery stores, in farmer’s markets, and even in online shops. The love for succulents may have been brought by how easy these plants can be cared for. Most succulents can live even with very minimal care.
If you are looking for the perfect houseplant to start a succulent collection, you may want to consider the gasteria plant. The gasteria plant comes in different leaf patterns and colors depending on the species which makes it the perfect house or office decor. Interested yet? Read on to find more about this amazing plant!
What is a Gasteria Plant?
The gasteria plant is an aloe-like succulent that is native to South Africa. It got its name from the Latin word stomach because of how the flowers of this plant is shaped like. It is also popularly known as “ox tongue” because of the rough texture and the elongated shape of its leaves. The patterns and color of the leaves may vary as there are so many species available.
Unlike most succulent plants, the gasteria can grow with low lighting conditions making them great indoor plants. You can still grow it outdoors but it needs to be in a spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight, like in the shade of a big tree.
Uses of a Gasteria Plant
Like any houseplant, the gasteria plant can add color and life to your interior decoration. Apart from the aesthetic, the gasteria leaves have a gel-like content that can be used for a healthier scalp very much like the aloe vera. You can also use it on your face as a non-oily moisturizer.
Varieties of the Gasteria Plant
There are numerous species that have been cited for gasteria. There are even lists that go from 80 to 100 species. However, according to Wikipedia, the current number of accepted species is at 29. Here are the most common species you can check out if you are already planning to get one:
Unlike some species of gasteria, the maculata has very smooth leaves with light-colored spots.
The glomerata has a very unique appearance. The leaves are very thick and come out in opposing pairs and seem to be stacked on top of another pair. It doesn’t grow tall and mostly stays in a compact size.
Like most gasteria species, the verrucose has thick and long pointy leaves. Apart from that, the leaves are covered in white spots or warts that add to its overall appeal.
How to Grow a Gasteria Plant
Taking care of a gasteria plant is not very hard. If you are planning to put it inside the house, you just need to find a spot that gets plenty of light but will not burn your gasteria in direct sunlight. If you want to grow it outdoors, put it somewhere it can get a little shade like under a big tree. The plant’s leaves will also rot when exposed to too much water so you need to make sure that it will not soak if it rains.
Place it somewhere with plenty of light but not in direct sunlight. If you notice the leaves turning abnormally yellow or white, it can mean that it’s getting too much exposure to the sunlight and you may want to place it somewhere else.
During the summer, you will have to water the plant more frequently or every time you notice that the soil is drying out. During the winter, you can water the plant less like every other month. However, keep in mind that you should never stop watering the plant. No matter the season, be mindful of the water staying in the leaves. If left unattended, the water can make the leaves rot.
Like most succulents, the gasteria plant needs soil that has sufficient drainage. If you are planting one in a container or pot, you may use a cactus potting mix or any soil that drains water well and mix it with some sand. Soil mixed with sand is also the best option if you are planting the gasteria outdoors.
Temperature and Humidity
The gasteria plant is very sensitive to too much humidity and it can make them rot faster. So if you live in a humid area, you may have to water them less as they can get extra moisture from the humidity. This plant likes the warmth of summer but they can survive in winter (even down to 50°F) too, given the proper care.
How to Propagate Gasteria
The gasteria plant is propagated through offsets. All you need is a sharp knife or scissors to cut the offset without ruining the plant. Snip as close to the motherstem as you can to ensure that you get as many roots as possible. Before repotting, let the offset dry for a while. When repotting, use the same soil as you use with the mother plant and place it in an area with enough light and water it as usual.
Pests and Diseases
Gasteria plants are prone to fungal infections. Luckily, this disease does not spread rapidly and you can easily stop it. This kind of infection is brought by too much humidity and can easily be controlled by lowering down the plant’s moisture level. This infection is manifested by black spots on leaves.
The plant can also develop scorching from too much exposure from the sun. This problem causes the leaves to turn brown and crusty. All you need to do to remedy this is to move your plant someplace that does not get direct sunlight.
Overwatering can also cause problems for gasteria and make the roots rot. You will see mushy and brown spots at the base of the plant. When this happens, it is really hard to make the plant gain health again. What you can do is cut out the healthy leaves and repot them.
Is gasteria toxic for pets?
This plant is safe to be around cats, dogs, and other pets as they are non-toxic to animals.
How big does gasteria grow?
Gasteria is a slow growing plant. Depending on the variety you will have, they grow from 6 to 20 inches.
Does gasteria grow flowers?
Yes. The name gasteria is coined after its flowers which are shaped like a stomach.
The gasteria plant will make a great addition to your indoor or outdoor plant collection. With the many species and different appearances of each, you will definitely find one that will suit your style and preference. With its minimal need for watering, it makes a great desk decor to add life to your work area.
While the plant may be prone to problems common to succulents, with the proper knowledge of taking care of the plant, you will surely find it easy to avoid these issues or solve them.