If you’re a beginner gardener, Gasteria acinacifolia, also known as the Dune Gasteria, is a wonderful houseplant for you. Gasterias are so easy to maintain and grow in low-light environments that they make an excellent choice for novice gardeners who live in apartments or other buildings without access to natural sunlight. In this blog post, we will discuss Gasteria acinacifolia’s care requirements and give tips on how to keep it healthy.
Gasteria acinacifolia is a wonderful houseplant for beginners because it requires little maintenance, and will thrive in almost any environment. It has an oval-shaped rosette of long, fleshy leaves that are dark green to brownish-purple in color with a shiny surface. Gasteria acinacifolia also has small white flowers at the end of spring and can grow up to three feet tall indoors if given enough light and fertilized properly.
Origin of gasteria acinacifolia
Gasteria acinacifolia is native to South Africa. It naturally grows in grasslands and along the coastal regions of the Eastern Cape. It also has been introduced into other parts of that country as well as neighboring countries like Namibia and Botswana.
Gasteria acinacifolia propagation
Gasteria acinacifolia is an easy plant to propagate, either by seed or by cutting. Simply place a leaf on top of moist soil and it will grow roots.
In most cases, propagation by division is not recommended as the small size makes them very fragile with any root disturbance causing damage to the plant or even death. However, Gasteria acinacifolia is somewhat unique in that division can be successful with some preparation beforehand.
Deciding whether or not to divide should be done on a case-by-case basis. If you wish, the best time is during dormancy in winter where there will be no disturbance of active growth nor root damage due to soil disruption. If successful, this will result in an increase of about 50% but can also greatly decrease your chances of survival.
In order to divide Gasteria acinacifolia, carefully remove the plant from its pot and using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, slice through the roots vertically, every two inches with care being taken not to damage any of them. If you have done it correctly then there should be at least four sections remaining that each will contain at least one fan.
Replant each section into a clean pot, placing the fans on top of dry soil and water sparingly until they have grown new roots.
Once rooted, you can begin watering normally again by leaving it to sit in about an inch or two of water before draining the excess away after 20 minutes or so. This will prevent rot and bloat, which is often fatal to the plant.
A second method involves using a knife or saw (used with caution) in order to divide an entire plant into sections before re-planting each one separately. This helps prevent damage caused by direct root disturbance but can be time-consuming if you have multiple plants that need dividing. However, it can also be more successful than division by simple root cutting.
This second method is generally considered to be the best way for dividing Gasteria acinacifolia plants as this roots them much faster, making growth not only easier but encouraging the plants to branch out and enlarge their fan base leading to a fuller-looking plant with many pups.
When growing Gasteria acinacifolia, the most important thing is to make sure that they are well watered but not too wet or sitting in water for too long as this will cause them to rot and die very quickly. During their dormant winter period when growth has stopped, you can allow them to dry out slightly between watering.
General care information
Gasteria acinacifolia care is simple and easy to remember: give it plenty of light, keep its soil moist during the growing season and dry out when not actively growing. It will reward you handsomely with a beautiful rosette that looks like it belongs in Jurassic Park! The plant’s flowers are usually pink but may be white sometimes.
Gasteria acinacifolia will thrive in bright but indirect light. This plant does not like the hot direct sun, and it’s best to place this houseplant near a window that gets some shade during midday hours.
Gasteria acinacifolia must have well-draining soil. This can be achieved by using cacti and succulent mix as the potting medium. The Gasteria should not strictly sit in water or dry out completely, but it is important that there are no pools of standing water near the roots over long periods of time.
For best results, use a shallow pot to prevent root rot and place it in an area with bright light but no direct sunlight. Gasteria acinacifolia thrives indoors where it is protected from both cold winters and hot summers.
Water sparingly, but usually enough to keep the soil from drying out completely. The frequency of watering depends on many factors including temperature and exposure to light. A good rule is that if the Gasteria is in a well-draining pot, then it will require less water than if planted in a regular potting mix.
When you do water, always make sure to water well, ensuring the soil is completely soaked until liquid drains out of the bottom. This will ensure that there are no air pockets in the potting mix and it also minimizes the risk of root rot from sitting on a wet surface for extended periods of time.
Gasteria acinacifolia can survive drought conditions, but it is best to avoid this habit.
Plants should never be overwatered, as this will cause the roots to rot and ultimately kill the plant. If the soil feels wet after watering then you have likely overwatered your Gasteria acinacifolia and new growth may begin to look droopy or yellowed in color.
Gasteria acinacifolia is not a heavy feeder. Feed once every month with half the recommended dose of liquid fertilizer when in active growth during spring and summer, that is, while plants are still actively growing.
During winter, fertilize only twice monthly or so because you want to encourage slow but steady growth at this time.
Tip: Never fertilize plants that are not actively growing.
Gasteria acinacifolia is a very forgiving houseplant, which means that it will forgive you for most mistakes. One of the main things to consider when choosing plants for your home is temperature. Gasteria acinacifolia can handle temperatures down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit / 15 degrees Celsius at night or day, as long as they are given a period of cold in winter.
It is equally important to keep the plant’s soil moist while it grows and dries out when it is in the dormant or resting stage.
Gasteria does not require high humidity to thrive. In fact, many grow this plant in the desert with no issue at all! So it is one of the best houseplants for beginners. The ideal humidity is about 40-50% relative humidity.
Generally, Gasteria acinacifolia needs humidity of around 50% during the growing season but tolerates dry air well enough that you can forget about watering for a day or two.
Gasteria acinacifolia can be pruned every couple of years because it outgrows its pot quickly.
When to repot
Gasteria acinacifolia Gasteria acinacifolia is a slow-growing plant. It can be transplanted at any time of the year, though spring and summer are best for most succulents. If you want to repot your plant but it’s not actively growing yet, simply wait until after its growth spurt to repot it.
Many gasterias will go dormant in response to winter temperatures. This is a natural process that helps protect the plant from freezing and allows it to rest until spring when the days lengthen, and warmer temperatures return and humidity levels rise once again.
In nature, many plants enter dormancy during cold months due to reduced light conditions as well as colder/drier weather. The length of dormancy will vary from plant to plant and with geographical location, however many gasteria can be kept in a state of semi-dormancy by simply reducing water levels during the winter months. In this case, you’ll want to follow these guidelines:
- Reduce watering gradually until your gasteria is going a month or more between waterings.
- Keep the plant on the dry side during this period, but not so much that it’s shriveled and dried out. Aim for slightly moist soil at all times.
- Water as usual when a month has passed since your last spraying with water from below (at which time the soil should feel quite dry)
- If the plant doesn’t quickly show signs of new growth after watering, don’t water again until it does.
Flowers & Fragrance
Gasteria acinacifolia has white flowers that grow in clusters. The plant blooms in the summer and attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Gasteria acinacifolia is nontoxic to animals and humans.
USDA Hardiness Zones
Gasteria acinacifolia is hardy to USDA Zone 11, which means that it can be grown outdoors in subtropical climates.
Pests and diseases
Gasterias are not particularly plagued by diseases. The main risks for this plant are rot, which can occur if it is left in water or subjected to cold temperatures, and sunburn which happens when the Gasteria has been moved too quickly into a sunny location without having the time to adjust gradually.