A few years ago, I came across―to my great dismay―a vast collection of neon-colored, spray-painted Gasteraloe plants in the garden center of a home improvement store. They are marketed as Kosmik Kaktus; the product label describes them as part of “a new lineup of cacti with out-of-this-world color.”
The plants came in every imaginable (and unimaginable) outlandish hue, from neon pink to cerulean blue. Misrepresentation aside (they are obviously not cacti, and their colors are undeniably unnatural), the finding was rather disheartening; I wasn’t sure any of the plants could survive long with pretty much all of their photosynthesizing surfaces spray-painted completely over. So despite my disapproval of the concept, I begrudgingly bought one to see how it might grow.
× Gasteraloe ‘Flow’ is an intergeneric hybrid between Gasteria verrucosa and an Aloe or Aloe-like species, possibly Aristaloe aristata. The plant inherits its prominent white spots from its Gasteria parent, and has lightly-toothed margins like an Aristaloe.
Because the poor plant couldn’t get much sun anyway with all its leaves painted over, I decided to grow it in a pot indoors. Progress was slow for the first year, but by the end of the year, there was some new growth at the base, in beautiful natural green. It even began suckering at the base, though the offshoots have more of a reddish hue. Much to my delight, the plant not only tolerates an indoor environment (albeit a bright, east-facing one), but seems to thrive in it.
After two years, almost all of its extraneous spray-painted color is gone. Growth accelerated noticeably once new growth with some natural leaf surface started showing, letting the plant enjoy some real light. Now in its third year, the plant is about 8 inches in diameter, and one main offset has grown enough to be in its own pot.
All in all, this has turned out to be a magnificent plant, despite the ulterior intentions its creators might have envisioned for it.
|Gasteria verrucosa × Aloe sp.