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Botanical name: Gasteria spp
Common names: Ox-tongue, Cow-tongue, Lawyer's Tongue, Mother-in-law's Tongue
Gasteria Plants are recognizable from their thick, hard, succulent "tongue-shaped" leaves and hence their common names Ox-tongue, Cow-tongue, Lawyer's Tongue and occasionally Mother-in-law's Tongue.
Gasteria's leaves are arranged in two rows forming a fan-like shape and as it gets older an untidy rosette is formed.
Usually, young Gasteria succulents have flat strap-shaped leaves in an alternate (spiral) pattern, with each leaf arising at a different point (node) on the stem.
Gasteria's inflorescence is also unique with their curved, stomach-shaped flowers hanging from inclined racemes (the oldest flowers are borne towards the base and newest flowers are produced as the shoot grows, with no predetermined growth limit).
This characteristic inflorescence has given this genus its name Gasteria. "Gaster" is Latin for stomach. The plant only flowers when mature after about 2-4 years.
Plants in the Gasteria genus are mostly native to Eastern Cape Province of South Africa and extends into the far south-west corner of Namimbia and the Lebombo mountains of Swaziland.
Gasteria succulents are extremely difficult to divide into species as each plant can be highly variable depending on its location, its soil and its age.
As many as 100 names have been listed. Current studies tend to agree that there are between 16 and 23 species.
The leaves in Gasteria plants may be warty like in Gasteria verrucosa or smooth like in Gasteria maculata.
The color of leaves in Gasteria plants vary from dark-green to light-green. Some are spotted with light shades of green or grey-green.
Many hybrids have been developed like, Gasteria bicolor which features thick, flat leaves with striped patterns.
Some common Gasteria varieties include;
Gasteria genus is closely related to the genera Aloe and Haworthia. The species of these genera are known to hybridise relatively easily with each other.
If you would like to add these plants to your collection, Gasteria succulents are available online at Etsy. Buy Gasteria Plants online from Etsy.
Gasteria Plants thrive in bright light with some direct sunlight, average warmth and moderately moist, fertile, well-drained soil coupled with monthly feeding during the growing season. They have no need for extra humidity.
Gasteria succulents require pruning to keep them neat and reduce pest and disease infestations. Repotting is only needed when they become pot-bound. Keep reading for more on these growing conditions and how to provide them.
Gasteria succulent grows best under bright light with some direct sunshine. Keep it away from hot direct sunlight as it can scorch the plant.
For even growth, regularly rotate the pot to ensure that the plant receives light on all sides.
Where natural lighting is not adequate, Gasteria can grow under a grow light to supplement it.
Water Gasteria Plants liberally during the growing season while allowing the top 2-3 in. of soil to dry out between waterings to maintain the soil moderately moist.
Significantly decrease watering during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time to keep the soil slightly moist but do not allow the soil to dry out completely.
Ascertain that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease and death of the plant.
Avoiding wetting the center of the rosette as it can lead to rotting or water from the bottom instead.
Use water that is at room temperature to avoid plant shock as it can cause reduced growth and eventual death of the plant.
Average warmth temperatures from 18-290C) are ideal for Gasteria Plant. The sudden change in temperature between day and night is good for the growth of this succulent plant.
Gasteria Plants have no need for high humidity. Average room humidity is ideal for these plants.
Feed Gasteria succulent monthly during the growing period with a succulents fertilizer as they are slow growing and therefore do not need frequent feeding. Withhold feeding during the cold season as growth is minimal at this time.
Repot Gasteria Plant only when the plant becomes pot-bound. Use a shallow rather than a deep pot as they have shallow roots.
The pot should be only 1 size larger than the current one. Ensure that the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy as it can lead to root-rot disease.
The best soil for Gasteria Plants should be rich in organic matter, loose and free-draining to avoid getting soggy soil. The soil should be loose enough to allow water to drain out fast enough.
Cactus and Succulents soil is ideal for these plants. Buy quality Cactus and Succulents Soil for Gasteria Plants online from Etsy.
Pruning Gasteria Plant involves removal of dead or diseased leaves to maintain the plant neat and discourage pest and disease infestations.
Cut the leaf at the base with a sharp knife or a pair of scissors to detach it from the stem. Avoid excessive injury to minimise fungal and bacterial infections.
Gasteria Plants can be propagated from offsets (pups) which form at the base of the plant.
Select an offset which has several leaves and carefully seperate the offset from the mother Gasteria Plant by cutting with a sharp knife or a pair of scissors.
Allow the offsets to dry (callus) for 1-3 days before potting to prevent rotting.
Plant the offset in free-draining soil and ensure the pot has a drainage hole to prevent the soil from getting soggy.
Position the set up in a warm, brightly lit spot away from direct sunlight.
Water sparingly, only when the soil is dry to avoid getting soggy soil as it can lead to rotting.
Allow the new Gasteria Succulent to be well established after which you can begin routine care.
Gasteria Plants problems indoors include wilting and drooping leaves, leaf spots, rotting, discoloration, pests and diseases among others. Keep reading for more on these problems, their remedies and solutions.
Underwatering is the cause of wilted and droopy leaves in Gasteria Plant. Immediately water the plant thoroughly and it should recover.
Maintain the soil moderately moist during the growing season and slightly moist in the cold season but do not allow the soil to dry our completely.
Rotting base followed by yellowing and shriveled leaves in Gasteria Plant is an indication of Basal stem rot disease which is enhanced by overwet conditions.
Remove and discard the infected parts to prevent spread to the rest of the plant.
Avoid overwatering during the cold season and reduce watering significantly to maintain the soil slightly moist.
Use a fungicidal solution ocassionally to water the Gasteria Plant to prevent the disease infestation.
Brown soft spots in Gasteria Plant are a sign of leaf spot disease which is enhanced by poor air circulation. Therefore, improve ventilation and ensure that there is proper air circulation for the plant. Read on how to treat leaf spot disease in houseplants.
Wilted and discolored leaves in Gasteria Plant are caused by overwatering during the cold season. Water the plant sparingly during the cold season and allow the soil to almost dry out between waterings.
Common pests in Gasteria Plants are scales insects and mealy bugs. Isolate the affected plant to prevent spread to other plants and treat with Neem oil or Insecticidal soap.
Gasteria Plants are non-toxic to both humans and pets. They are safe to grow in the home.