It is no coincidence that this flowering plant from the Asphodel family has a name that echoes the well-known gastric pathology. It was named Gasteria due to the peculiar swelling that can be seen in the lower region of the tubular perianth. It is a succulent that grows wild in the arid desert regions of South Africa. A lot of light and little water – these are, in fact, the two main requirements for the successful cultivation of gasteria at home. The remaining care criteria are also not difficult and within the power of a grower with any experience in breeding succulents.
The Gasteria flower has a short, squat stem and hard, fleshy leaves, the shape of which can vary considerably depending on the variety – with a pointed or rounded end, a flat or concave surface. Their location can also change from two-row to multi-row, and the colors can combine various forms of spots and strokes throughout the leaf plate. Most often they are smooth, but there are species with rough leaves, the width of which is usually the same within one plant.
Gasteria blooms in an original and beautiful way, throwing out flower stalks that can reach up to 90 cm in length. In older specimens, they form almost after each leaf tier. The flower petals are brightly colored, in flashy tones of yellow, orange, pink or green. With their original shape, they resemble an amphora, have thin legs that bend under their light weight, and are collected in racemose inflorescences. Gasteria flowering lasts a month, during which the buds do not open immediately, but alternately one after another.
Types of gasteria with photos and names
In nature, there are about 70 varieties of this succulent, many of them are suitable for growing in an apartment.
A stemless variety with a rosette arrangement of elongated tongue-shaped leaves up to 20 cm and with a hard, sharp ending. The socket is formed low, almost at the root collar. The leaf plate is covered with small whitish warty slightly raised growths. The peduncle is long, up to 80 cm, but the flowers themselves are small, drooping, with a pink or red perianth.
It has a shortened stem no more than 30 cm, wide and slightly convex leaves are arranged in a two-row order, have a trihedral shape with a gradual transition to a spiral arrangement. In the end, they have a transition to a cartilaginous spike. The color of the leaves is variegated, with a random arrangement of light spots. The flowers are funnel-shaped, bright red, framed by a green border and collected in a compact racemose inflorescence of medium length.
Thick and fleshy, sometimes almost round leaves of small size are arranged either in transverse or spiral rows, with a sharp oblique keel below. The stem is missing. Leaf plates of a dirty green color are covered with frequent light rough warts. Flowering gasteria of this species looks very bright, in pink-red tones, close to the color of fuchsia.
Dwarf stemless succulent with lanceolate leaves. Their glossy leathery surface is covered with various-sized light green, almost white spots. The leaves do not exceed 6 cm in length. The peduncle exceeds its length by 3 times and is covered with small flowers of the original form, painted green at the top and pink at the bottom.
Another stemless succulent that forms a large rosette. The leaves are wide, with a ribbon-like arrangement, of an obvious shape, variegated. It throws out a very long, up to a meter long peduncle, on which flowers of an interesting curved shape and a fairly large size, painted in rich red, alternately open.
Unlike previous species, it has monophonic leaves without spots, but with an uneven warty-wrinkled surface. Their shape is non-standard, and the size is small, up to 3 cm. At first, the leaf grows straight up, but at a certain moment it changes position to a horizontal one, so that all adult leaves grow parallel to each other. It blooms earlier than other species, the flowers are small and rarely located along the entire length of the peduncle.
Spectacular succulent no higher than 30 cm with vertically growing tongue-shaped flat leaves, slightly bent upwards or obliquely directed. The rosette is more developed than other varieties. The lower part of the leaves has a dark green color with large white spots, in the upper part they characteristically turn red to a pink-purple hue.
A stemless variety very similar to the bicolor species, but with narrower and elongated leaves that have almost the same color. It blooms with medium-sized flowers, painted in pink or red tones. It breeds well with children.
Like all succulent plants, gasteria does not require much attention and feels great without the active participation of a person in his life. But for this, she needs to choose the optimal conditions for growth.
For a beautiful variegated color of foliage and timely flowering of Gasteria, a lot of light is needed, but it is desirable that it be diffused. The flower does not like to be under direct midday rays on an open windowsill. Western and eastern windows are perfect. Partial shading is needed on the southern windowsill, and on the northern one you can never wait for flowering, although the plant will grow and develop there. All that has been said about shading refers to the spring-summer period, in autumn and winter the flower will be happy with any light, and on the north window it will require artificial lighting up to 16 hours a day.
The plant loves fresh air, but can get sick from a draft. In the summer, it can be taken out to the verandas and balconies, and in the cold season, ventilate the room more often.
During the period of active vegetative development (spring and summer), the most comfortable for gasteria will be moderate temperatures in the range of + 19 … + 26C. But in winter, the plant has an implicit rest period, it needs rest, which can be provided by lowering the temperature in the room to + 15 … + 18C. Thanks to this, flowering next season will be bright and plentiful. If you do not provide a change in the temperature regime, the gasteria may either not bloom at all, or its buds will dry out right on the peduncle without opening.
The plant does not require any measures to increase humidity, and spraying, moreover, can harm it. The microclimate of an ordinary city apartment in all respects suits him, subject to the temperature regime.
Succulents are crops that are better under-watered than over-watered. However, in the hot season, watering should be timely and sufficient, with intermediate drying of the topsoil. With the onset of a cold snap, it gradually decreases and reaches a maintenance minimum in the winter period of rest.
The lower the air temperature in winter, the less often you need to water the gasteria.
Active vegetation begins in April-May, from this time the flower needs additional nutrition. The recommended frequency of top dressing is 1-2 per month, the composition is mineral complexes intended by manufacturers for cacti and succulents. But it is better to reduce the concentration recommended by them by half. With the appearance of the first signs that the gasteria is going to rest, feeding should be stopped completely.
It occurs only under proper conditions, the main of which are good lighting and good rest in the winter season. On the north window, without additional lighting, Gasteria does not bloom. Depending on the variety, the peduncle may be thrown out in late spring or summer. Each of them can have up to fifty buds.
Soil substrate requirements
Basically, they boil down to lightness and good aeration of the soil – it must pass air and water well. Acidity range 5.5-7. For self-preparation of the substrate, leafy soil and high-moor peat are mixed (the first is taken twice as much) with the addition of a small amount of sand. Low-lying peat is not suitable for this culture; it is better to do without it at all. From ready-made soils, land for succulents and cacti can be used, river sand and fine-grained broken bricks can be added to it. The arrangement of the drainage layer is a prerequisite.
How to transplant gasteria?
As the flower grows, a transplant is required, the usual frequency is once every 1-2 years. The optimal time is the end of the dormant period, spring. The pot is taken wider by 2 cm for ordinary species and 1 cm for dwarf ones. It is not recommended to buy a planter “for growth”, it harms flowering, stressful conditions are required for forcing the Gasteria peduncle. Transplantation is carried out by transshipment, if there are children, they are carefully removed. Drainage arrangement is mandatory.
Three methods are available – vegetative with the help of children and division, as well as seed.
To get the seeds yourself, you need to take care of this in advance, since the flowers require artificial pollination. To do this, it is enough to gently but vigorously shake the flower or simply tap it to release the pollen that will settle on the stigmas. Seed ripening occurs in mid-summer. If the collection of seed material is not planned, it is recommended to immediately remove the buds that have begun to wither so that the plant spends energy on new flowers, and not on the ripening of seeds.
Gasteria is very close in its botanical characteristics to aloe, which is why cross-pollination is possible.
As a result of such experiments, it is sometimes possible to obtain very interesting and unique results.
You can sow the seeds without deepening, covering the dishes with a film, which must be periodically raised to spray the soil and ventilate. Germination is not fast. After the young sprouts come into force, it is necessary to make a pick with their simultaneous transfer to a permanent pot.
Landing by children
The presence of daughter outlets during transplantation quickly solves the issue of quickly obtaining new specimens of Gasteria. Rooting is usually quick and hassle-free. At first, more frequent watering is required, which is gradually reduced to an adult mode. Very slow growth in the first year of life should not be embarrassing, it should be so. With a quality content, flowering can occur as early as the second year.
The division of the bush
With this method, everything is standard. In the spring, at the very beginning of the period of a new vegetation cycle (optimally – when transplanting), the plant is carefully divided with a sharp knife, preserving a leaf rosette on each part of the roots and buds. The cut is sprinkled with wood ash or coal, and the delenka is planted in a moist substrate immediately in a permanent place.
If you do not make gross mistakes in agricultural technology, Gasteria gets sick very rarely. The provoking factors most often become too frequent watering. In this case, acidification of the soil is observed, and the leaves lose their usual elasticity and color. A bacterial infection manifests itself most often as brown spots and softening of the tissues at the site of their manifestation. If the content is too dry, the leaf plates turn pale and lose their decorative effect.
Possible crop pests are aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. The fight against them involves the use of conventional insecticides for special purposes.