Gasteria bicolor, commonly known as lawyer’s tongue plant, lawyers tongue succulent, or Gasteria obliqua, is an easy-to-care-for succulent that can also tolerate a great deal of neglect. Despite its name, the lawyer’s tongue plant is not poisonous, and all parts of the plant are edible (if young and tender). It doesn’t take much to keep your lawyer’s tongue healthy and happy.
They are beautiful succulents that are hardy and easy to care for in the home garden. They produce bright green leaves with red speckles on their undersides, along with clusters of small, fragrant flowers in fall and winter.
Origin and distribution
Gasteria bicolor is a species of flowering plant in the family Asphodelaceae, native to South Africa. The name bicolor refers to the two-tone coloration of the leaves, which are green with white spots.
Gasteria obliqua is a closely related species with similar coloring. Gasteria bicolor is a popular choice for houseplants due to its low maintenance requirements and resistance to pests and diseases.
It thrives in bright indirect light such as from south or west-facing window or under artificial light. It does not tolerate direct sunlight well because it can cause the leaf tips to scorch. In winter when indoor light levels are lower, the leaf tips may brown slightly but new growth will soon appear and the leaf tips will green up again.
To maintain good growth, water less frequently than once per week and keep the soil lightly moist at all times but never soggy wet. During periods of high humidity or when placed on top of humidifiers, plants may need more frequent watering.
In the wild, Gasteria bicolor is pollinated by sunbirds and nectar-feeding insects. When grown indoors, fertilize every four weeks during the growing season with a liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength.
During the winter months fertilize monthly with diluted liquid fertilizer. This succulent can be grown successfully indoors or outdoors in frost-free areas, but if you are not sure whether you live in a frost-free area, or if you live in an apartment and don’t have access to an outdoor garden or terrace, it’s best to grow Gasteria bicolor inside.
Gasteria bicolor propagation
One of the best ways to propagate Gasteria bicolor is by division. This can be done by carefully digging up the offsets that form around the base of the plant. Once you have removed the offsets, replant them in a well-draining potting mix. Water lightly and allow the offsets to establish themselves before watering more frequently.
Gasteria obliqua can also be propagated by leaf cuttings. Cut 4 pieces of the lower part of a mature leaf from a healthy-looking plant. Strip off all but one or two pairs of leaflets from the bottom half of the leaf.
Stick this cutting into a moist rooting medium such as perlite with vermiculite at a depth about twice its thickness and firm it down with your fingers so it will not move when watered.
Cover with plastic or glass to hold in moisture until new roots develop which may take several weeks or months. When the cuttings are ready for transplanting, remove them from their pots and place them directly in dry soil without allowing any water to touch their leaves. If they begin to droop, water sparingly until established.
Gasteria bicolor care information
If you’re looking for a tough, low-maintenance plant, look no further than Gasteria bicolor! This South African native is perfect for beginners and experienced gardeners alike. Here are a few tips to keep your Gasteria bicolor happy and healthy.
If you want your Gasteria bicolor to thrive, it’s important to give it the right amount of light. This plant prefers bright, indirect sunlight. If you can provide a spot near a south- or west-facing window, that would be ideal.
However, if you live in a hot climate, it’s important to make sure that the plant doesn’t get too much direct sun, as this can scorch the leaves. One way to do this is by positioning the pot so that it faces away from the sun and shielding it with an umbrella or some other object.
Use a well-draining potting mix for your Gasteria bicolor. If you’re not sure what that is, ask your local nursery or gardening center. The mix should be light and airy, and hold moisture but not be soggy. A good mix will have peat moss, perlite, and/or vermiculite. It should also include composted pine bark, sand, or other organic material.
Periodically replace the soil in your pots with fresh soil to ensure good drainage and an optimal pH level. Be careful not to overwater your plant. Let the top layer of soil dry out before watering again. If you live in a very humid environment, it may be necessary to use some gravel on top of the soil to help maintain airflow around the roots.
Gasteria bicolor can tolerate long periods of drought but will appreciate being watered when the soil begins to dry out. When watering, be sure to use room temperature water and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Do not overwater! Keep in a warm, humid environment with bright light for best results.
When it comes to fertilizer, Gasteria bicolor is not a picky plant. In fact, it will thrive in a wide range of soils, as long as the soil is well-draining. A general all-purpose fertilizer will do the trick.
Just be sure to dilute it to half strength or less, as this plant does not like high levels of nutrients. Once you’ve picked out your favorite potting mix and your favorite pot, you’re ready to transplant!
One important thing to remember when caring for your Gasteria bicolor is the temperature. This plant does best in warm weather and can tolerate temperatures up to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, it should be protected from extreme heat and cold. The ideal temperature range for this plant is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees, the leaves will start to turn brown and drop off.
Gasteria bicolor requires high humidity to thrive. If the air in your home is too dry, the leaves will start to brown and curl. To increase the humidity around your plant, you can use a pebble tray or humidifier. I like to mist my plant every few days to keep the leaves nice and hydrated.
The ideal humidity range is 40-60%. Too much moisture, which causes it to be humid, can also be harmful to this plant as it does not tolerate standing water well. You can tell if the soil is moist enough by looking at the top of the soil; if it looks wet then that means there is too much moisture.
Too little moisture on the other hand causes wilting and yellowing of leaves as well as leaf drops. It’s best to get a feel for how much water your plants need by checking on them often!
If your Gasteria bicolor gets too leggy, you can give it a light pruning. Simply snip off the longest leaves, being careful not to damage the plant. Pruning will encourage the plant to produce new, shorter leaves and make them more compact.
It also makes the plant easier to take care of because you don’t have long, difficult-to-manage leaves that tend to fall over when they get wet or blow in the wind.
When to repot
The best time to repot your Gasteria bicolor is in the spring before the plant begins to actively grow. You’ll know it’s time to repot when you see roots coming out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
If you wait too long to repot, the plant will become pot-bound and its growth will be stunted. To help avoid this, it is important to make sure that there are plenty of air pockets between the soil and the rim of the pot. Another option is to simply move up a size every year or two as your plant grows taller.
Gasteria bicolor is a tropical plant, so it does not require a dormancy or winter rest period. However, it is important to keep an eye on the temperature in your growing area. If the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you should move your plant indoors or provide some type of protection.
The leaves will yellow and die if they are exposed to cold temperatures for too long. You can try placing your plant outdoors during warmer days to avoid this issue altogether.
Gasteria bicolor flower & fragrance
The flowers of Gasteria bicolor are small and tubular, borne on erect racemes. They are a pinkish-red color, with darker red stripes running along the length of the tube. The flowers are fragrant, with a sweet scent that is most noticeable in the evening hours.
Gasteria bicolor is a very slow-growing plant. In ideal conditions, it will only grow about 1/2 inch per year. It is important to not over-water this plant, as too much water can lead to root rot.
Gasteria bicolor is not considered to be toxic to humans or animals. However, the sap from the plant can cause skin irritation in some people. If you experience any irritation, wash the area with soap and water.
USDA hardiness zones
Gasteria bicolor poisonous thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9-11. It is an evergreen succulent plant with narrow, green leaves that can grow up to two feet long. It is generally considered an easy care plant that requires low watering and minimal sunlight.
Pests and diseases
One of the great things about Gasteria bicolor is that it’s very resistant to pests and diseases. However, there are a few things to watch out for. If you see brown spots on the leaves, this could be a sign of rust disease. If the leaves start to turn yellow, this could be a sign of scale insects.
And if the plant starts to wilt, this could be a sign of root rot or too much water. For any of these problems, the best course of action is to remove any infected plants from your collection as soon as possible so they don’t spread their illness.
Be sure to wash your hands after handling diseased plants! It may sound like common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to say it: Never mix healthy plants with unhealthy ones. It’s also important to know how to identify which plants need more water than others.
It can be hard to tell at first, but over time you’ll learn what kind of watering schedule each plant needs in order to thrive.