Common Name: Ox Tongue
Botanical name: Gasteria species
Gasterias are adorable succulent indoor plants that are rare and becoming known for thick, waxy leaves that often come to a point and grow in a rosette formation. Ox Tongue were classified as aloe, but because of their unique markings and habit, they have a genus all to themselves! Gasteria gives a whole new meaning to the idea of easy-care houseplants. They thrive with a certain degree of neglect which makes sense, given the unforgiving conditions these plants handle in their native environments.
Lots of bright indirect light, at least 6 hours per day, is necessary for these succulents. In nature, these plants thrive in desert environments with abundant light, so providing similar amounts of light is a must for these plants. Established, mature plants can often handle direct sunlight, but younger plants may become scorched if exposed to natural light. It's usually best to err on the side of caution and avoid direct light.
Let the soil completely dry out before watering gasteria. These easy-care houseplants prefer more arid conditions, making them a good fit for forgetful plant owners. When it is time to water, saturate the soil until water drains through the soil. Make sure to empty the cache pot and tray so the plant is not sitting in standing water.
Gasteria requires that their potting soil contain more drainage materials (compared to soils for most indoor plants), such as wood chips, perlite, coarse sand, or pumice, to allow the water to drain quickly. Most bagged soil-less potting soil made for indoor plants will work fine but remember that you must let the soil dry out completely before watering it again. You can add cactus potting soil mix to your potting soil to help the water drain if you feel the roots are staying wet for too long! A great time to do this is when you need to re-pot them into a larger pot.
Average room temperature (65-75°F) is suitable for Ox Tongue. These plants can do very well in warm temperatures. If you bring your succulent outside for the warmer months, bring it back inside well before the temperatures turn chilly. Although gasteria love the warmth during the summer, they prefer cooler temperatures (50-60°F) in the winter.
Staying true to their low maintenance reputation, succulents can live in low or average humidity. Succulents are very well suited to dry climates and prefer dry winter air, which is problematic for most other varieties of houseplants. It's typically best to avoid placing succulents in rooms prone to high humidity, like a kitchen or bathroom. Exposure to high humidity can cause fungal problems and may lead to leaf loss.
Generally, gasteria do not require a lot of feeding and can often do very well without being fertilized. However, fertilizing succulents can promote new growth and even more vivid colors and flowering for some varieties. Use a diluted liquid fertilizer once a month to keep the succulent houseplant thriving, or top dress the soil with organic compost in the spring! Avoid too strong or frequent fertilizing that can damage the plant and burn the leaves. Take a break from fertilizing your succulent during the colder months, especially if the plant is not actively growing.
Gasteria are slow-growing indoor plants that take years to reach their mature height of 4-12"!
Pet Friend or Foe
Ox Tongues are non-toxic! Friend!
- When re-potting gasteria, add a bit of extra coco-coir, so the soil does not drain too fast!
- Succulents, like Ox Tongue, do very well in terracotta pots. Due to the porous nature of terracotta, the soil is able to dry out, which the plants prefer. Keep in mind that plants grown in terracotta pots may need to be watered more often since the soil can dry out so quickly, but it's still necessary to let the soil completely dry out before watering.
- If the leaves begin to wither or pucker, it is a sign the plant is too dry. Give the succulent a long drink, let the excess water drain, and the leaves should plump back up shortly.