Gasteria batesiana, also known as the knoppies gasteria, is a succulent plant that can be found from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to Somalia. It has rosettes, leaves are thick and fleshy with narrow-angled teeth on their margins.
One of the easiest gasterias to grow is gasteria batesiana. This plant is native to South Africa and belongs in the Asphodelaceae family, making it a close relative of Aloe vera and Agave plants (which are also succulents). The plants are relatively small, reaching about eight inches tall and wide.
Gasteria batesiana is often confused with gasterias that belong to the genus Erythrorhiza (sometimes called erythrophylla or gazania). These plants have a thick stem near their base which they use as an anchor, which gasteria batesiana doesn’t have.
The family Asphodelaceae are commonly called gasterias or stomach plants because their leaves resemble human anatomy when viewed from above. Gaster batesiana grow well in sun-filled areas with low watering and high temperatures (between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit).
The gasteria has an interesting way of pollination: they rely on carrion beetles to help them out. Usually, they are grown in a pot but they can also take part in the ground too, just not on a hot dry sunny day as this will burn their leaves and make them shrivel up.
The gasteria batesiana was named in honor of Nathaniel Wallich, also known as “Gastor.” These plants prefer dry conditions and can grow up to 12 inches tall with an 18-inch radius. Leaves are dark green, triangular-shaped, and have soft hairs on the underside.
How to propagate gasteria batesiana
Gasteria can be propagated through division of grafted plants or by separating basal shoots from a mature rhizome. If dividing grafted plants, it is important to use a sterile tool and not damage the root system, and separate into individual pots as soon as possible and water well.
When separating grafted plants, it is best to remove the old grafted material first and then separate it into individual pots when new growth appears.
Gasteria batesiana can also be propagated from seed but will take much longer than dividing grafted plant or basal shoots from a mature rhizome.
Gasteria seeds should be sown on top of a well-drained medium such as a sterilized mix.
General care information for Gasteria batesiana
Gasterias are not particularly demanding plants and can be grown in a wide range of soil conditions. They prefer soils that remain moist but well drained during the growing season, and they tolerate some degree of drought once established. Gasteria grows best when planted on top of an acid (pH below neutral) and well-drained soil.
Gasteria batesiana prefers full sun to partial shade but can tolerate fairly high levels of light. Avoid placing gasterias in a position that is exposed to afternoon sun or harsh winds.
Gasteria will grow indoors with medium-light or low levels of natural sunlight.
Water gasteria plants evenly. These plants are drought-tolerant, so they will survive on the same amount of water that most succulents receive (about one inch every couple of weeks). If you notice leaves turning brown or drying out, this may be a sign that your gasteria batesiana need more moisture in their soil.
Fertilize gasteria batesiana plants once a month with one tablespoon of fertilizer. If you don’t want to use the fertilizer that is specially formulated for succulents, you can also mix in a handful of high nitrogen compost or manure into the soil on every other watering cycle to provide nutrients.
In the winter, gasterias batesiana can be kept in a cool room with low humidity. In the summer months, gasteria plants should be watered less often and given more shade to prevent them from getting sunburned.
Gasteria batesiana can be placed outside in the summer, but should not directly experience sunlight. If gasterias are kept indoors, they prefer to stay between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit with higher humidity levels than what most plants need (a humidifier may help). Gasteria batesiana prefers low light environments and will thrive at a temperature between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gasterias should be repotted every two to three years. To repot, use potting soil with the same composition as your gasteria’s current one and insert it an inch below the surface of the old soil. Place gasters gently where they were before and make sure that there is enough water in the soil to keep them from drying out.
Gasterias plants should be pruned once a year in the fall to prevent them from becoming leggy. Cut gasters down by 50% and remove any dead or dying branches. The cut surfaces of gasteria leaves will heal over quickly, but you may want to use an antibacterial wash on your hands afterward.
Gasteria batesiana can be grown in zones 11 to 12. Outside, gasteria plants should stay planted during the winter, but inside, it prefers to go dormant (along with other succulents) and are better off being stored outside or just left alone until spring arrives.
Gasteria batesiana is considered safe to be around pets and children, but they do contain oxalates so care should be taken when handling them. If gasters get on the skin or in the eyes, rinse thoroughly with water for ten minutes.
Gasterias plants live for about a decade.
Pests and diseases
Most pests are related to fungus and can be treated with a fungicide. Diseases should be reported immediately so that the plant can be isolated before the disease spreads.