Gasteria minima f. variegated
Gasteria minima is native to KwaZulu-Natal
Gasteria minima is a small succulent belonging to the Asphodelaceae botanical family. The plant can reach 7 cm in diameter and grows alone. The plant is stemless and forms a rosette of leaves. The leaves are lanceolate, tongue-like, fleshy, flat, smooth and shiny and are dark green in color. The variegated form has green leaves with yellow stripes. The leaves are covered with white small dots. Leaves may turn red if plant is stressed. Blooming occurs from midwinter to spring and the inflorescence can be branched and tall. The flowers are small, reddish-pink and green and tubular.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 7°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
Its name comes from the greek Gastèr, that means belly, stomach, which refers to the shape of the flower bell-shaped, reminds a small bag which then narrows towards the top. The variegation is due to the loss of the ability to produce chlorophyll in some tissues of the plant, so that this tissue is no longer green. Chlorophyll-free tissues are usually white or pale yellow coloured (due to carotenoid pigments) in contrast to the normal green tissue.
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