Few plants living at home can compare with Gasteria for their unpretentiousness. You can forget about her for quite a few months, and she will still survive. But this is still an extreme. It is better to provide her with suitable living conditions, and she will delight her owner with a “flowering” look in the literal sense of the word.
The complexities of taxonomy, species and hybrids
The genus Gasteria belongs to the family of the Xantorrei (formerly Asphodel), which includes two more large succulent clans: Aloe and Haworthia. Interestingly, due to the close relationship, all these plants can easily interbreed. There are many hybrids that have even received individual names:
Touring - a mixture of gasteria with aloe. The appearance is more reminiscent of scarlet, reproduction is only vegetative (cuttings or leaves).
Gasterworthia is a mixture of Gasteria and Haworthia. These two genera are very similar to each other, and they differ only in the structure of the flower. In Gasteria, the petals are fully fused, and in Haworthia, their upper parts are usually bent.
According to various sources, from 30 to 100 species are known in the genus. But since different types of gasteria are also very easily crossed among themselves, assigning a plant to one or another species is not an easy task, even for professionals.
The most common species in indoor culture are the following:
Warty Gasteria (G.verruccisa) - occurs most often. Leaves grow like a fan and are streaked with white tubercles.
Gasteria kilevataya (G.carinata) - leaves grow in a spiral, on the underside of the leaf there is a longitudinal bulge - keel.
Spotted Gasteria (G. maculata) - leaves are decorated with stripes of different shades.
Gasteria bicolor (G.bicolor) - leaves with large, unevenly distributed, white spots. The rosette of leaves is larger than that of other species.
Description, growth features
Gasteria is a relatively small succulent at home, forming a fan-shaped rosette. In some species, the fan-shaped structure is preserved until the end of life, in others, with age, the leaves begin to spiral. You can try to influence this process yourself by turning the plant every six months by 45 ° -90 ° relative to the light source.
The leaves have the shape of a tongue or triangle, rounded or elongated with a pattern in the form of dots, spots, sometimes stripes. No wonder the people call the plant "the language of a lawyer." It is interesting that when buying a young plant (if it is a seedling), you need to be prepared for the fact that the color, pattern on the leaves and even their very shape can change over time. This is all due to the same ease of crossing different species among themselves.
Gasteria flowers are very beautiful and unusual.
For their resemblance to bottles, the plant received its generic name. After all, “gasltron” is translated as a pot-bellied vessel. Even with small sizes of the outlet, the peduncle can reach 40-70 cm.
In mature plants, it appears after each successive row of leaves, but dries out under inappropriate conditions, without leaving the rosette of leaves.
Gasterias, as already mentioned, are very unpretentious plants that can grow in the shade, and are not afraid of the direct sun. Although the sun's rays can cause a kind of tan - redness of the leaves.
But for flowering, a sufficient amount of bright light is simply necessary.
The temperature can be normal room temperature both in winter and in summer. But cool wintering (about 8 ° C-12 ° C) also contributes to the formation of flowers in Gasteria. In summer, he will appreciate a stay in the fresh air, with mandatory rain protection.
Subject to cool wintering conditions and a sufficient level of illumination, Gasteria bloom regularly. In early spring, a peduncle grows from an outlet. From this moment, it is better not to rearrange the plant, regularly water it and not change the temperature in the room, otherwise the inflorescence can die out without revealing its amazing colors.
From March to October, the plant is watered abundantly, but with the mandatory drying of the topsoil. In the cold season, watering is enough once a month, especially with a cool wintering. Humidity is not so important for the plant.
Gasteria is fed only in spring and summer once a month, using special fertilizers for cacti and succulents. It is desirable that the fertilizer had a minimum of nitrogen, and a maximum of phosphorus and potassium.
Transplant, possible problems
The future size depends on the frequency of Gasteria transplantation. If there is a desire to grow a plant as large as possible for this type of size, then an annual transplant is necessary, with the obligatory separation of young outlets for children. If there is not enough space in the room and you want the plant to remain compact for as long as possible, then you can transplant it once every three to five years. By the way, Gasteria grows very slowly. And it will bloom in a cramped pot.
The soil for transplantation is suitable neutral or slightly alkaline, loose and permeable. You can take ready-made soil mix for cacti. A drainage layer is mandatory at the bottom. The pot needs to be found wide, but shallow, and only slightly larger than the previous one, since Gasteria feels good only in tight containers.
Dry leaves must be regularly removed at the base of the plant. This will help prevent pests.
The main problems with leaves - lethargy, yellowness, dryness, rot - occur mainly due to excessive watering.
Gasteria is propagated vegetatively and by seeds. You can collect them from your plant. They ripen around mid-summer. You need to sow them on the surface of wet sand, under glass at a temperature of 18-20 ° C. With constant spraying and airing, seedlings can be expected in a month or two. Seedlings develop very slowly, therefore a vegetative method of reproduction is preferable.
The easiest way to do this is to separate the young rosettes-babies, slightly dry them at room temperature and plant them in separate pots. This operation is best done in spring or early summer. The first months before the final rooting, you only need to slightly moisten the substrate.
For especially valuable species, propagation by leaf blades is possible, but it is much more complicated. Not only is the rooting rate low, the sheet cannot be cut. It must be very carefully removed from the stem, after loosening the base. Then the leaves are dried for about a week and planted in separate containers in slightly damp sand.
It is advisable to increase the temperature and humidity around the leaves, but do not water until a new growth appears.