Did you know that the Gasteria genus contains the most exotic and rare succulents of all?
Gasteria is a great succulent that comes from South Africa. It is compact and easy to grow. In this article, you will see the types of gasteria succulents, their characteristics and care.
Many think that gasterias are aloes or haworthias. They are not. Although they are family, gasteria is its own genre. The leaves of this succulent are fat and shaped like a tongue. That is why some call it ox tongue, cow tongue or lawyer’s tongue. Not even the lawyers are spared.
Gasteria: Description and Characteristics
Gasteria is difficult to describe because succulents of this genus are so varied. Also, the appearance of these plants varies depending on their location, soil, and their age.
The description is also complicated by the fact that young plants generally look completely different from mature specimens. Finally, hybrids are produced easily and naturally .
Its size varies between 2 and 3 centimeters in diameter up to several feet. So, a gasteria can be as small as a haworthia or as large as an aloe.
Because of the stomach shape of its flowers, this genus of succulents receives its name, gasteria. Gaster means stomach in Greek.
The problem is that the flowers differ moderately between the Gasterias species. This makes it difficult to identify them. Fortunately, there are only 16 to 23 species of Gasterias.
Types of Gasteria Succulents
If you are wondering what kind of succulent you have, this article will help you identify 8 Gasteria succulents, both the common and the rare breeds.
1,000 Types of Succulents with Pictures
Acinacifolia is the largest species present in the exotic, resistant and striking Gasteria genus. This succulent specimen stands out among the 21 recognized species of Gasterias in the world of gardening, thanks to its great production of nectar in its flowers.
A garden that has the presence of this variety of Gasteria in its flowering time (Spring), will have the pleasant visit of many species of birds. Thus, this main characteristic makes this plant a very valuable and desirable species in the gardens of many towns, rural houses and farms.
Appearance-wise, Gasteria acinacifolia has elongated and lanceolate leaves, which resemble the shape of a spear up to 75 cm long. These leaves grow in the form of a multiple rosette, generally having about 10 to 20 leaves arranged in a distal manner.
Regarding color, Acinacifolia are mostly dark green, with dense white spots arranged in transverse bands. Its flowers appear most of the time in spring. These are colored like orange, green, red, pink or cream, tubular in shape and very rich in nectar.
The Gasteria acinacifolia is a coastal variety native to the Eastern Cape , a place with climate zones 10 and 11. It is very resistant to drought, very easy to care for, and extremely resistant and adaptable.
Gasteria liliputana is one of the smallest Gasteria species. The succulent has pointed-lanceolate leaves that are about 3 to 7 cm long and about 1.5 cm wide. The leaves of this gasteria are arranged in spiral rosettes. The color of the leaves is dark green and mottled whitish, on the underside the leaves of the Gasteria liliputana are keel-shaped.
Gasteria obliqua (formerly: Gasteria maculata) is larger than Gasteria liliputana and one of the most widespread Gasteria. The tongue-shaped, slightly shiny leaves of the Gasteria maculata are up to 15 cm long and about 5 cm wide. They are dark green in color and form white spots or transverse bands. The leaves of the young plants of Gasteria obliqua are arranged in two rows.
Its flowers are born from floral stems of approximately 30 cm, they are tubular in shape and of colors such as pink, orange or cream.
The Gasteria obliqua is a native succulent of Eastern Cape, South Africa. The Eastern Cape is a place in which the climatic conditions are included in the Hardiness Zones number 10, 11 and 12.
Gasteria ‘Little Warty’
Gasteria Little Warty is a small species of about 15 cm in height and 10 cm in width. It has its charm mainly in the color, appearance and shape of its leaves. These leaves grow in even numbers (approximately 3 to 5 pairs) in a distal manner or in the form of a kind of rosette.
They are thick and firm, have a deep green color as a base, stripes in different shades of light green and lots of bumps that are rough to the touch and give a rustic look.
For one of these plants to enter a flowering stage, its growing conditions must be optimal. If that happens, in autumn times it will produce very showy flowers. These flowers can be orange, pink or yellow.
This is a small succulent plant native to South Africa belonging to the Xanthorrhoeaceae family. It is also known under the common name of “Gasteria carinata”.
Gasteria verrucosa makes pointed leaves about 15 cm long and 2 cm wide. They are slightly concave on the top, slightly rounded on the underside, dark green in color and covered with small, whitish warts. The leaves of the Gasteria verrucosa are always arranged in pairs and in two rows.
These species of succulent begin to bloom in late spring. The flowers grow hanging and gathered in a long cluster. Their shape is tubular and they are red or green.
The Gasteria batesiana is an acaulescent plant (it lacks a stem), small (about 12 cm in height and about 30 cm in diameter) and that grows in the form of a rosette. This rosette is made up of lanceolate triangular leaves that grow in a disk shape, rustic to the touch, brittle, with an intense green color and covered by small bumps that look like warts.
Note: At an early age this plant generally only forms two rows of opposite leaves, then as they develop they create rosettes.
Its flowering stage occurs in autumn. These flowers do not have greater ornamental value, indeed, many gardeners do not let them grow to save the plant a great effort.
The outstanding and admired design of this plant has been the main trigger for its popularity. It is a succulent well known also under the common name “flat-leaf gasteria”, and is a native plant of the Renosterveld plains between Jeffreys Bay and the Gamtoos River of the Eastern Cape province.
Armstrongii is a small plant that does not have a stem and whose leaves (up to 10 cm in diameter) grow one on top of the other in even numbers (up to 3 pairs).
These leaves are the vast majority of times dark green, with bumps that can turn whitish and ending in a rounded tip (like a tongue) or pointed.The flowering time of this Gasteria occurs in summer. Its flowers are tubular and reddish-pink in color (These flowers have no greater ornamental value).
- In its place of origin, this plant is very popular with traditional healers. They are believed to have the ability to transfer their camouflage properties to humans who wash with the leaves.
- It has a wide field of medicinal applications. This has made them increasingly scarce, in demand and valuable.
- Its flowers are very rich in nectar, one of these plants in your garden will attract the visit of many birds.
Differentiation with Gasteria nitida
Today there is a kind of confusion when identifying which are 2 different varieties of plants.
Gasteria armstrongii (left) and Gasteria nitida (right) are very similar but not equal species.
The second plant in question, unlike the first, is much larger, with smooth leaves and grows in non-opposite rosettes.
Gasteria brachyphylla forms pointed, tongue-shaped, two-line glossy leaves. The dark green colored leaves of Gasteria brachyphylla, decorated with numerous white spots, are about 15 cm long and 3 cm wide. At the base, these leaves are almost horizontal and curve upwards towards the end of the leaf.
Other varieties of Gasteria:
How to Care for Gasteria
These plants are quite easy to grow and care for. They are excellent potting plants.
Gasteria supports shade better than other succulents, making it ideal for growing indoors. Of course, if you are going to have it inside your home, place it in a well-lit place.
If you are going to grow it outdoors make sure it does not get direct sunlight all day. Place it in semi-shade. There are some varieties that can be acclimated to full sun, but they generally require bright light, not direct sun.
With these succulents, the golden rule applies. Only water them when the substrate is completely dry. In winter, reduce watering, but do not stop pouring water.
You can use a substrate for cacti and succulents or make your own. Do not use soil for general gardening, or potting soil.
Gasteria supports heat and humidity very well. The minimum temperature is 40ºF (4ºC).
Note: In warmer weather, Gasteria leaves may turn lighter and brighter in color or the plant may bloom with small, colorful sack-shaped flowers.
Fertilize during the growing season with a cactus and succulent fertilizer. You can also use tomato fertilizer at ¼ of the recommended dose. Fertilize every two months in the growing season. Do not feed during winter
Transplant your gasteria every year in spring. Why every year? Because this succulent generates new roots every year, while the old ones die.
As the new roots emerge, they become entangled with the old ones. This prevents water and food from reaching the gasteria well. That is why I recommend pruning old roots and transplanting every year.
The gasteria gives many pups, which you can separate from the mother plant. It is better to do this process in spring. Use a sharp, sanitized knife to separate the pup from the mother plant. Make sure it has roots. Plant the pup in cactus and succulents soil.
A few varieties of gasteria can be propagated by leaves.
Pests and Diseases
These succulents suffer from small black spots. But do not worry. They are not contagious nor do they harm the plant. These spots appear to come out of nowhere, even in the healthiest gasterias.
Of course, if your plants are in shade and you are overwatering it, it may suffer from a harmful fungus. In that case, treat them with a fungicide.
In addition, they can suffer from pests common to succulents, such as mealybugs and aphids. The problem with these insects is a sign that your plant is not receiving enough light.