Gasteria


Gasteria duval

Top Tips

  • Gasteria need to endure periods of droughts in between waters - if you're stuck with when to water it, think of the ukhouseplants' phrase of 'Drenches Between Droughts'.
  • Be cautious when irrigating - allowing excess moisture to sit in the cubbyholes of the stem will result in diseases like southern blight and 'heart rot'. 
  • A few hours of morning or evening sun is mandatory, especially in the winter months. Avoid situating in a dark location, due to the heightened chance of diseases above, and below the soil line.
  • Supplement at monthly intervals all year round, using either a Cactus or Houseplant feed, or a general plant fertiliser.
  • Repot every three years in the spring, using a Cactus & Succulent potting mix. This is the perfect time to propagate the small offshoots that'll form at the base of the crown. Read 'Propagation' for more info.

•Water - πŸ”Έ

Allow the soil to thoroughly dry out for a week in between waters, reducing this further in the autumn and winter months. Winterising a Gasteria is essential to maintain good health; keep the plant 'ticking over' by reducing the number of irrigations to every three weeks and avoid over-fertilisation. One word of advice is never allow excess moisture to settle either in the actual crown of the plant or underneath the pot, as both will cause southern blight or even heart rot. It's recommended to irrigate a Gasteria using the bottom-up method; place the plant into a saucer and fill until the bottom 30% is submerged. After several minutes, shake the pot gently to remove an excess moisture and place back into its original location. Under-watering symptoms include drooping leaves, stunted growth, and sunken leaves; these can be a range of different issues, including forgetfulness, too much sunlight, or the plant being pot-bound. Over-watering symptoms include root rot, a rotting base, or sudden plant death. Gasteria must receive sufficient light levels (at least one hour of direct sunlight a day) to counteract the chance of root rot. 


•Humidity -

This is not a factor; however, if your Gasteria is situated indoors, a quick hose down from time to time will reduce the number of dust particles covering its leaves.


•Location & Light - πŸ”ΈπŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

An hour of direct sunlight is a must; shady locations could lead to diseases associated with over-watering due to the lengthened time in which the soil takes to fully dry out. The frequencies of irrigations solely rely on the amount of sunlight is received; if it begins to develop a discoloured white crown, this is typically down to too little light. Newly-propagated 'pups' must not receive intense sunlight as their insufficient root systems will not soak up enough moisture to survive the harsh rays.


•Fertilisation - πŸ”ΈπŸ”Έ

Feed monthly all year round using either Cactus or Houseplant Feed. Do not directly apply 'ready to pour' fertilisers into the soil without a pre-wash, as this will lead to burning roots and yellowed leaves.




Common Issues with Gasteria

Over-watering is the biggest issue when it comes to this plant. Typical signs of this include brown leaves with soft spots on the underside of the leaves, basal/crown rot or a collapsed stem. Not only will you have to be mindful of root rot, have a think about which plant parts to keep dry. The soil must have periods of droughts to replicate the habitats of semi-deserts of South Africa, as well as limiting the chance of root rot. Its central crown must remain dry at all times to prevent the development of basal rot. Avoid waterlogging; there's no point fulfilling 'drenches in between droughts' if the base of the pot is submerged, as root rot will arise. For any more information about over-watering related issues, be sure to click on this link.

A pale central crown and elongated growth are typical signs of too little light. As Gasteria originate in semi-desert locations around South Africa, replicate this by offering at least an hour of direct sunlight, as failure to do so will cause elongated growth and pale crowns.

Alternatively, too much sunlight will lead to sun scorch, with typical signs including browning or crispy leaves, dry leaf-edges, sunken leaves, stunted growth and 'pup' death. Although too little light will cause over-watering issues, too much sunlight will negatively affect the plant as well. A location that offers 1 - 4hrs of sunlight a day brings the optimum growth for a Gasteria. If it has fallen short of this issue, reduce the amount of sunlight considerably and always be mindful of environmental shock (when too locations offer too different growing conditions). Remove some of the affected leaves and increase irrigations slightly.




Dormancy Care & Annual Flowers

Gasteria may reward you with a show of flowers during its dormancy period. The combination of drying soil, cooler temperatures and dark nights will contribute to a better dormancy period and therefore flowers. As ukhouseplants been challenged many times on this subject, we've created an acronym to help you through this process - SHORT. The following steps should be taken from early autumn to provide the best possible dormancy. 


Sunlight

Provide a few hours of winter sunlight, avoiding dark locations as this will significantly reduce the chance of flowers. An ideal room would be in a semi-heated conservatory or a south-facing window. 

Hydration

Reduce waters so that the soil becomes fully dry for two weeks, for the prevention of root rot and to replicate its dormancy period.

Occasional Feeds

One or two feeds with a Cactus & Succulent fertiliser is all that is needed for supplementation, as too nutritious soil will reduce the chance of buds.

Reduce Everything

This one is a reminder to reduce everything - especially the temperature.

Temperature

Reduce the temperature by around 5℃ or place in a room which is within 14 - 16℃  (57 - 61℉).  As most houseplants are sensitive to temperature change, we can't empathise how important this is to replicate their dormancy period. If all of the steps are fulfilled, an established specimen could produce beautiful red or pink clusters of flowers in late winter, lasting several weeks.




Origins

Gasteria consists of over twenty species, originating from semi-desert areas of South Africa. The genus was first described back in the mid 19th century by Joseph Duval-Jouve, who named it after the stomach-like blooms put out in winter.


Temperature

10°C - 25°C   (50° - 78°F)
H1b - can be grown outdoors in summer in a sheltered location, but is fine to remain indoors. If you decide to bring this houseplant outdoors, do not allow it to endure more than an hour of direct sunlight a day as this will burn the leaves. Regularly keep an eye out for pests, especially when re-introducing it back into the home.


Spread

Most species will reach heights of 0.4m in height and 0.8m in width, with the ultimate height being reached within 5 - 8 years.


Pruning

Remove yellowed or dying leaves or plant debris to encourage better growth and improve the all-round appearance. Pruning must be done with clean scissors or shears to reduce the chance of bacterial and fungal diseases; remember to make clean incisions as too much damage can shock the plant.


Propagation

Via seed, offset division or leaf/stem cuttings.


Offset (Pup) Division - For this method, it's best to divide in spring or summer and once the offshoots are at least a quarter of the mother plant's size. Remove its pot and place your hand in between the junction that connect the two; soil may have to be brushed away to get a better grip. Gently push the pup downwards while supporting the mother plant until you hear a snap. Cautiously separate the root systems, keeping great care in keeping them damage-free. Place the new plantlet in a small pot with a well-draining potting mix, much similar to the original soil, and maintain the same care routines. Cactus & Succulent compost is best, or you can make your own using multipurpose compost with added grit or perlite. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within the six weeks, as long as the soil is kept on the drier to life.

Leaf Cuttings - Leaves that are halfway along the stem have the most potential due to its size and maturity. Gently place your fingers between the mother's stem and the leaf's base, pulling it downwards until you hear a snap. Ensure the wound is wholly intact with no damage as a bruise or tear will result in unsuccessful propagation. Set the leaf ON TOP OF a bed of moist Cactus & Succulent Compost for root growth. Not only will this callous the wound (to prevent disease), but it'll also speed up the propagation process considerably. Once there's 0.3cm of root development, place it one third into the compost, at a slight angle. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within the next month, as long as the soil is kept on the drier to life. 

Stem Cuttings - Nip two inches off from the leading growths, located at the edge of the foliage line using your fingers or sterile scissors. Be sure to choose damage free, the juvenile growth as any cuts and bruises will lead to disease. Place the stems a third into the soil, making sure no leaves are submerged - you may have to remove the lower leaves to reinforce this step. Use a 5cm pot and with a well-draining potting mix, preferably Cactus & Succulent Compost, to reduce the risk of over-watering and basal rot. Provide a bright setting with temperatures around 18°C (64°F) with the majority of the soil drying out in between waters. New leaves should emerge within the six weeks, as long as the soil is kept on the drier to life. If you need any more help with propagating succulents, send us an email via this link!


Flowers

Warm-coloured flowers are arranged by a pendulous spike that'll develop each year, reaching up to 30cm in height. Each flower can last up to several days, with the blooming process lasting several weeks. Ensure to keep the plant slightly more hydrated than usual with a fortnightly feed of cactus fertiliser. These gorgeous flowers are produced in the winter the plant is situated in temperatures of 10°C  (50°F), along with fewer irrigations over the colder months.


Repotting

Repot every three years using grit-based compost. For matured specimens, introduce more grit to promote a stronger root ball as well as the reduction of potential root rot; click on this link for more information on how to perform the perfect transplant.


Diseases & Pests

Common diseases with Gasteria are root rot, crown or heart rot, leaf-spot disease and powdery mildew. Keep an eye out for vine weevils (uncommon indoors), scale & mealybugs.
Over-watering will lead to both root rot and possible plant death; for more info on how to address any of these issues, hit this link.  Identifying Common Houseplant Pests & Diseases


Toxicity

This plant is classified as poisonous. If parts of the plants are eaten, vomiting, nausea and a loss of appetite could occur. Consumption of large quantities must be dealt with quickly; acquire medical assistance for further information.


Retail Locations

B&Q,  Dobbies,  Homebase,  IKEA,  Online Stores.

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