Gasteria ‘Spotted Beauty’
In the wild, Casteria would normally be found in arid grassland in Southern Africa. They are members of the Lily family, and while they do not have a bulb, the small bell-shaped flowers are produced on long stems like so many of their relatives. The identity of many Gasteria is very difficult to determine, and field collectors can see differences between almost every local population in the wild.
Most Gasteria have leaves arranged in a fan shape. They are nearly all small-growing plants, measuring 8-24cm (3-9in) tall. Most species clump freely and make attractive slow-growing mounds. The example depicted is fairly typical, although leaf shape and markings differ a little. Flowers are mostly small tubular bells in shades of green and orange and are produced in the early Spring.
This plant is quite tolerant of low temperatures (down to 5°C/40°F) if kept fairly dry. Like most plants, it will benefit from good ventilation, but not draughts.
Gasteria require a bright situation at all times and grow happily in a South- facing window.
Water well during the Summer, allowing theto dry between waterings. During the Autumn and Winter, keep fairly dry, giving only enough water to prevent shrivelling. This plant will soon rot if kept wet at low temperatures.
Gasteria come from very arid areas and will benefit if provided with a dry atmosphere.
Feed this succulent regularly every 1-2 weeks during the Spring and Summer, using afood, or one recommended for tomatoes diluted at about half strength.
will do best in a well-drained compost containing about one third grit. Repot at least every two years.
Gasteria are extremely slow to grow from seed and, therefore, most are propagated vegetatively by detaching offsets. Very small offsets are also slow to grow, so wait until they are of a reasonable size before detaching them. Most larger ones will probably already have their own roots.
These plants can also be grown from, but again it is a very slow method and only useful for rare plants or those with few offsets. Detach a leaf or cut one into pieces about 10cm (4in) long. Allow any cut surfaces to dry for about a week. Insert the into some very gritty compost and be patient. Keep the compost very slightly damp and, after a while, the base of the leaf should erupt into small offsets. Leave them attached to the old leaf for as long as possible and, after a couple of years, you will have small plants.
Black marks Sometimes Gasteria produce black marks on the leaves, but the cause remains a mystery. Remove the damaged leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide. Feed the plants frequently during the Summer and the problem should disappear.