Table of Contents
- 1 What are Gasteria Succulent Plants?
- 2 Types of Gasteria Succulents
- 3 Gasteria Plant Care Guide
- 4 Common Problems of Gasteria Plants
- 5 FAQ
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 References
What are Gasteria Succulent Plants?
Gasteria plants are relatively rare succulent species that belong to the Asphodelaceae family.
Since their long leaves with a rough texture resemble a cow’s tongue, these plants are also sometimes called Cow’s Tongue or Ox Tongue plants.
Interestingly, Gasteria species have an appearance similar to mini Aloe plants, and you can find them growing in the wild across South Africa.
Aloe vera and Gasteria plants belong to the same family and have similar appearances, but there are differences, which make them easier to distinguish.
The leaves of Gasteria succulents are dark green, hard, fat, and tongue-like, and they are marked with different patterns and colors based on the species.
As winter turns into spring, mature plants will bloom beautiful flowers that are curved and tube-shaped.
Many people are growing these non-toxic succulents indoors these days, owing to their low maintenance requirements and medicinal properties.
Scientific research suggests that the leaves of Gasteria croucheri are blood purifiers . These plants can thrive well in partial sun and in warm environments.
However, they are slow-growing plants, so you will have to be patient to enjoy their beautiful pink, orange, or green flowers because young plants don’t bloom.
Looking for other types of succulents? Go to our related post on different types of succulents.
Types of Gasteria Succulents
Since the last study of Gasteria succulent species in 2007, there have been 29 recognized species.
Using the floral structure, a study done in 1994, devised a taxonomy that divides the Gasteria genus.
A further revision in taxonomy was done in 2007 by E. J. van Jaarsveld, who revised the taxonomy and found that there are 29 species of Gasteria.
Below, we look at the most common Gasteria succulent found growing in the wild and that can be grown in your garden.
Gasteria acinacifolia is the largest species in this genus that is native to the Eastern Cape.
These succulents come up with sharp, light green leaves that are long and have a lanceolate shape with white spots. Mature leaves can grow up to 30 inches long.
The tubular-shaped flowers appear during the spring in a variety of colors, ranging from cream, pink, green, or red. These flowers are rich in nectar.
Gasteria acinacifolia prefers to grow under bright sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight during noon can be damaging.
We suggest you manage a spot that has afternoon shade. The temperature should be warm. A humid environment and cold weather can kill these succulents.
Like a typical succulent, this specimen is drought-tolerant. We water them sparingly. Prepare a well-drained potting mix for growing them.
Gasteria armstrongii is a dwarf variety that is native to South Africa.
This specimen is similar to another variety of Gasteria species named Gasteria nitida var., but you can identify the Gasteria armstrongii by observing the tuberculate and dark green leaves.
This succulent comes up with beautiful bright red-pink-colored flowers.
This variety prefers full sun to light shade. We recommend you keep them near the east-facing window because, from this spot, they will receive the morning sun.
An environment with a warm temperature is preferred. They cannot tolerate frost conditions, so you have to move them indoors during winter. Waterlogged conditions can be deadly for these succulents.
Gasteria batesiana var. comes up with rosettes that form triangular-shaped leaves in a lanceolate formation. This is mainly a stemless succulent.
These leaves have a disk shape and a brittle to rustic texture. The dark green leaves are covered by tiny bumps that look similar to warts.
During the early period, the plant has only two leaves in opposite directions.
These cow tongue plants tolerate low light conditions quite well. Their growing temperatures should be warm.
A humid environment and a cold temperature can kill the plants. Avoid applying too much water because excess moisture causes fungal infection and root rot.
Prepare a well-draining potting soil. To propagate Gasteria batesiana plants, you should separate the young plants.
Gasteria brachyphylla var. is popular for its short, wide, and strap-shaped leaves that are smooth and shiny.
This specimen closely resembles Gasteria disticha and Gasteria pillansii.
You will find them widely distributed in the Western Cape of South Africa. They bloom with pink colored flowers in the autumn.
This Gasteria spp. tolerates low light conditions. Avoid placing them under the direct afternoon sun and in cool rooms because both conditions are harmful to their leaves.
A warm and dry climate is considered ideal. Water them sparsely and follow the soak and dry method. Prepare a cactus or succulent mix for growing these Gasteria species.
Gasteria carinata var. is a small specimen of the Gasteria genus. This variety is native to South Africa. It has triangular and sharp leaves that have white spots.
Alternatively, this specimen is known as Bredasdorp Gasteria or Keeled Ox Tongue. The flowers of this succulent have orange to light pink colors.
Gasteria carinata var. prefers growing under bright but indirect light. Direct sunlight will burn the leaves.
Warm weather is generally preferred. High humidity levels can cause fungal infections.
Hence, you shouldn’t apply water to the leaves. For fertilization, you need to apply either organic or cactus fertilizer.
Gasteria disticha is also known as the Great Karoo Ox Tongue Succulent, and is native to the Western Cape of South Africa.
The strap-shaped, green, smooth leaves have a wavy margin and can grow to around 6 inches long.
During the spring, you will notice tubular shaped and reddish-pink colored tiny flowers.
Gasteria disticha is a slow-growing succulent that prefers growing under indirect sun.
Afternoon shade is often recommended as the intense sun during this time can burn the Gasteria leaves.
The temperature should be warm and the air should be dry. Since they have shallow roots, you don’t have to repot them too often.
For propagation, you can separate the baby succulent plants from the mature ones.
Gasteria Little Warty
Gasteria little warty is a smaller variety of the Gasteria genus that can reach about 6 to 7 inches tall and 3-4 inches wide.
People mainly grow it because of the color and the spathe of the succulent leaves. The leaves are firm and thick and have a deep green color at the base.
You can also observe the light green shades. During the autumn, it produces yellow, orange, and pink flowers.
Gasteria Little Warty has fewer demands. The grower only has to make sure that this succulent plant doesn’t receive direct sunlight at noon.
A light shade is recommended. The growing environment should be dry and warm. You don’t have to water these succulents too frequently.
Fertilize them once a year. For successful propagation, you can separate the pups from the parent plant.
Gasteria glomerata is also known as Kouga Gasteria. This succulent has a unique appearance, which will help the grower identify this specific variety.
The leaves are strap-shaped and may grow to be around 2 inches long. During the spring season, the succulent produces small orange-colored flowers.
Like the other Gasteria plants, this specimen tolerates low light conditions. It is not cold-tolerant, so, during the winter season, you may have to move it to a warmer location.
This is a slow-growing succulent, so you don’t have to worry about repotting and fertilizing it too often.
Apply organic fertilizer once a year. Always use a well-drained cactus mix for planting this succulent.
Gasteria liliputana is the smallest variety. This plant has pointed lanceolate-like leaves, which can grow up to 3 to 4 inches long and an inch wide.
The leaves are arranged in a spiral formation and come up with a beautiful dark green color with dense white spots arranged along the surface.
This specimen can tolerate shady areas and enjoy bright light. A warm and dry environment is required. Excess humidity can be responsible for causing fungal infections.
You will notice black spots on the leaves when these plants become infected.
They are drought-tolerant, so you don’t have to worry about watering them. Water them when the topsoil looks dry.
Gasteria nitida is also known as Bathurst Gasteria, which is another succulent species native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
This plant looks similar to Gasteria armstrongii, which is smaller than this Gasteria nitida var.
The leaves of this succulent are shiny and tongue-shaped and have a rough texture with a waxy surface. During the summer, you will notice dark red-pink flowers.
Like other Gasteria plants, this specimen prefers growing under light shade. The full and direct sun during noon can burn the leaves.
The growing environment should be warm and dry. Don’t water them too frequently, as excess moisture can kill them.
Prepare a well-drained potting mix. For propagation, you can follow the leaf or stem cutting method.
Gasteria obliqua is also known as Gasteria bicolor (formerly Gasteria maculata) and is locally recognized as “Lawyer’s tongue.”
This specimen has a very distinctive appearance, and you can easily identify it by the long dark green succulent leaves with white spots and reddish tips.
During the blooming period (mid-winter to spring season), you will notice bell-shaped flowers on the flower spike.
Like most succulents, Gasteria obliqua prefers to thrive in partial sun. Exposure to direct afternoon sun can damage the leaves. Hence, we advise you to keep them near an east-facing window.
The growing environment should be warmer. Cold weather and frost can kill these plants.
Never allow them to sit in waterlogged conditions, as too much water can kill them.
Gasteria pillansii is also known as Namaqua Gasteria. This specimen can be found in Namibia and South Africa.
It has strap-shaped leaves with deep green leaves and white spots. The flowers can be 1.5 inches tall with a slightly swollen base.
Due to its appearance, many people often confuse it with Gasteria brachyphylla var. and Gasteria disticha.
But you can distinguish them by the flower colors and shape.
Namaqua Gasteria plants are very easy to grow. It prefers dry summer conditions, like its native habitat.
It is a drought-tolerant specimen and grows well with little water. Excess moisture can lead to fungus.
The potting soil should be well-drained, and a few drainage holes beneath the containers will be great.
Gasteria carinata var. verrucosa is native to the Western Cape of South Africa. You can find this widely distributed in the hilly and rocky areas.
These cliff-dwelling species produce red or green flowers during the late spring.
The leaves can grow up to 6 to 7 inches tall and an inch wide, and they have a brownish-green appearance.
Gasteria verrucosa tolerates shady areas, and we recommend you keep them near an east-facing window. A humid and cold environment can be deadly.
Since they are susceptible to fungal infection, you need to keep the surrounding air dry.
Don’t apply water to the leaves as it increases the humidity level. Water the soil when the surface becomes dry.
Gasteria Plant Care Guide
Gasteria plants can be grown indoors easily because they don’t have too many requirements. However, if you have an outdoor garden, you can also grow them there.
While growing Gasteria succulents, the grower should be careful about light, water, and the potting mix.
In this section, we will help you with the Gasteria plant care guide.
Gasteria succulent plants don’t prefer to grow under intense direct sunlight. We recommend you keep them in the bright but indirect sun.
Exposure to the full sun during the hot afternoon can be damaging as this condition can burn the leaves and turn the color yellow or white.
If you grow them indoors, keep them near an east-facing window. Lightly shaded areas are perfect for these succulents.
Temperature and Humidity
These plants love warm weather. A warm summer is considered ideal for growing them.
If you are living in an arid region that has a warmer climate, then you don’t have to worry about temperatures and humidity.
These plants cannot withstand frost, which can be deadly. These plants show certain signs, like brighter and lighter leaves, when they become happy.
Like other succulent plants, Gasterias don’t enjoy humid conditions.
If you live in a humid climate, you have to be careful about the watering schedule. Don’t mist the leaves as it may lead to root rot.
Since these are succulents, you need to prepare a well-draining soil mix.
You can either buy a ready-made cactus mix or prepare it by yourself by mixing sandy soils, inorganic coarse materials, gravel, perlite, etc.
You can also make some drainage holes at the bottom of the container so that this can drain the excess water.
Water and Fertilizer
Water these plants carefully because they are susceptible to overwatering. These succulents don’t like too much water, which can lead to root rot.
Let the surface soil completely dry before watering. If you keep them outdoors and they receive rainfall, then there is no need to water them.
Gasteria plants are slow growers, but still need fertilizer to grow. You need to fertilize them once every spring. You can either use cactus fertilizers or apply organic ones.
Organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly, so you don’t have to worry about fertilizing them too often.
Propagating Gasteria plants is too easy. Usually, these plants are propagated by separating the offsets, like the way you would with other succulents.
Additionally, you can also propagate Gasteria plants by the stem or leaf cuttings method, but offset separation is more reliable.
To propagate with this method, you need to follow these steps:
- Remove the baby plants: Use a sterile and sharp knife to separate the young plants from the mother plant.
Cut at the base of the stem, which is beneath the rosettes.
- After removing them successfully, let them dry. You can use a paper towel and keep them under bright light.
After a few days, you will notice a callus at the cutting spot.
- Plant them: Now plant your small succulent plant in a well-drained potting soil. After planting, moisten the surface soil lightly.
Potting and Repotting
For potting and repotting Gasteria plants, you must choose a pot that has a few drainage holes.
Terracotta pots are a very popular choice among gardeners, and we also suggest you go for them because they reduce the excess water by evaporation.
Since these are slow-growing succulents, you don’t have to worry about repotting too often. Wait until the plants become mature and root-bound.
Common Problems of Gasteria Plants
Fungal infections are the most common issue of Gasteria succulents. You will notice black spots on the Gasteria leaves in the beginning stage.
It happens when there is too much water in the soil or the environment is very humid.
However, you’re lucky that these infections don’t spread too quickly. You can treat these infections by applying neem oil or fungicidal soap.
Are Gasteria and Haworthia similar?
Gasteria and Haworthia plants are similar and in the same plant family, but are not the same plant and an entirely separate species. In fact, Aloe, Gasteria, and Haworthia are three closely in that they are genetically related enough to be able to interbreed and produce hybrids, of which there are many in cultivation. All are easily cultivated in containers and can thrive in low-light situations and can be grown as houseplants.
Do Gasteria plants bloom flowers?
Yes, Gasteria plants bloom flowers. Each Gasteria variety will have blooms differing in color and form, but most bloom from late winter to early spring. A fun fact is that Gasteria, Aloe, and Haworthia will bloom flowers similar to each other because they are closely related as they are in the same family of plants.
Do Gasteria succulents prefer to be root-bound?
Gasteria succulents do prefer to be somewhat root-bound. However, they are slow-growing plants so it is unlikely to become root-bound in the first place. If they do get root bound, it is time to repot the plant; they only require repotting every few years. When repotting, it is best to place them in pots that are sturdy because they tend to be a little top-heavy.
Can I place my Gasteria under the full sun?
Gasteria succulents prefer bright indirect sunlight-not direct sun. If you plant them outside, make sure you place them where they get some shade during the day. On the other hand, if you have them indoors, place them close to a bright window, but not in full sun.
Do I need to fertilize Gasteria plants?
Yes, Gasteria you can fertilize them. However, only fertilize your Gasteria succulents in the spring, when they are actively growing, with a fertilizer designed for succulents or cacti. Make sure you follow the instructions, as you don’t want to overfertilize them. Lastly, Gasteria plants like organic matter in their soil as compared to other succulents; mixing a soil amendment like compost will be beneficial for our plant.
Gasteria plants resemble Haworthia and Aloe plants in appearance because they are all in the same family of plants but are different plants.
These beautiful succulent plants can be easily grown in indoor gardens because they thrive well in lightly shaded or low-light areas.
The colorful Gasteria flowers add a wonderful vibe to the garden, and they are easy to propagate, so you can have more Gasteria plants.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.