Gasteria bicolour is typically distinguished, with age, by its short stem, which separates it from other acaulescent species. The stems can get tall as leaves keep stacking on themselves.
Scientific name: Gasteria bicolor var. bicolor Haw.
Origin: South Africa. This species has a large area of distribution in the Eastern Cape, and although it overlaps other species' ranges no hybrids have been reported.
Habitat: Grow in a wide range of habitats mainly on shallow soil in the shade of other plants. Their speckled appearance, make them difficult to detect in the mottled shade of the bushes under which they are found.
Gasteria bicolour is typically distinguished, with age, by its short stem, which separates it from other acaulescent species, it that can get tall as leaves keep stacking on themselves.
Description: This species forms long, leafy stems instead of basal rosettes. It branches profusely from the base and can grow up to 50 cm tall.
Gasteria bicolor is a variable species with two somewhat distinct varieties:
However intermediate forms between the two (neither var. bicolor nor var. liliputana) are also common around the environs of Grahamstown, But all forms, from one end of the spectrum to the other, are usually spiral or rosulate in habit, excepting an outlier group of local populations north of the Zuurberg range which are distichous.
Standard long leafed form
short leafed form (syn: G. bicolor liliputiana)
Cultivation: They are slow growing but long-lived plants of easy culture which makes them a good houseplant and can be an excellent subject for the beginning gasteriaphile (it can grow easily on window sills, verandas and in miniature succulent gardens where they are happy to share their habitat with other smaller succulent plants, or in outdoor rockeries) Need light shade to shade, but will take full sun part of the day. (with some sun exposure the leaf develops a nice reddish tint and remain compact) They are tolerant of a wide range of soils and habitats, but prefer a very porous potting mix to increase drainage. During the hot summer months, the soil should be kept moist but not overly wet. The plants are fertilized only once during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the recommended strength. During the winter months, water only when the soil becomes completely dry. Frost hardy to -1°C (Or less).
Propagation: Gasteria is easily propagated by the removal of offshoots or by leaf cuttings in spring or summer. To propagate by leaf cuttings, remove a leaf and let it lie for about one month (e.g. in a cool window sill), giving the wound time to heal. Then lay the leaf on its side with the basal part buried in the soil. This leaf should root within a month or two, and small plants will form at the leaf base. Young plants can be harvested the following season. They can also grown from seed. Seed should be sown during summer in sandy well drained soil and preferably protected from full sun. The seedlings are slow growing and can be planted out in small containers when they are large enough to handle. The soil should preferably be enriched with compost. They react very well to a liquid organic fertilizer.