Gasteria maculata

Gasterias are plants commonly found in many homes, for they are easy to grow and their leaves serve as decoration throughout the year.

The approximately 70 species of this genus are indigenous to Africa, found mostly in Cape Province. They are very similar and readily cross-breed so that in cultivation one generally encounters hybrids whose parentage would be difficult to determine even for a botanist, let alone the amateur.

The leaves of Gasteria maculata are about 20 cm (8 in) long and arranged in two rows, sometimes spirally. The surface is flat or slightly convex, smooth, dark green with pale spots that are pinkish in the sun. Mature, robust specimens reach a height of about 40 cm (16 in). The flowers, which generally appear in spring but may be produced at any time of the year, are borne on about 30-cm-(l-ft-) long stem.

As has already been said, gasterias have no special requirements and are easy to grow. The soil should be a fairly heavy, nourishing mix, for example a blend of compost soil and loam with leaf mould plus some sand, though any packaged compost for house plants available at the florist’s will do. Unlike other succulents in this section they do not like direct sunlight; though they tolerate it, they do better in partial shade. However, one may come across lovely plants that have been grown in a south-east window and equally good ones that have been grown in full shade. A lower temperature in winter is desirable but not a must for successful cultivation.

Propagation is easy — either by leaf cuttings or by seeds, though in the latter case the resulting offspring may not be uniform for cultivated plants are mostly hybrids.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Featured Articles, House Plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gasteria maculata

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