Gasteria verrucosa

This Gasteria , native to South Africa, is a very popular house plant with a long history. It was grown as a decorative plant in Europe as early as 1700. The genus Gasteria includes about 70 species. Identifying them is difficult because young plants are quite different from the adults. This species typically has a two-ranked arrangement of the leaves. These are very succulent, dark green in colour, 15-20 cm (6-8 in) long, pointed, grooved above, keeled on the under surface and dotted with white tubercles on both sides. The flowers are arranged in racemes that grow from the axils of the leaves. They are coloured red-green and are 3-merous, a feature indicating that Gasterias belong to the lily family. The swollen, belly-shaped, lower part of the flower tube gave rise to the name Gasteria (the Greek gaster means belly).

Cultivation is easy; it tolerates full sun both in summer and winter. It thrives at normal room temperature in summer. Keep at a temperature of about 10°C (50° F) in winter. Water quite liberally in hot weather and increasingly sparingly as the temperature decreases. Propagate by detaching the readily formed offshoots and inserting them into a free-draining sandy compost.

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