Getting Ready for Growing Season
While winter is on its way in San Diego a lot of the plants we grow are just getting ready to wake up. Gasterias and Haworthias are prime examples. While I have blooms somewhere in the collection all year long, now is the time to transplant, separate, fertilize and give general love to the plants from South Africa.
You don’t need to transplant annually, but if the plant is overflowing the pot it is time to pot it up to the next sized pot or pull the pups and refresh the soil. I like to keep my Haworthias to single heads for the most part. It just depends on the plant. Staying with single heads keeps your collection size under control, vs adding larger pots.
Once I decide that it is time for a plant to be separated, I pull the plant from the pot (carefully). The more roots are undisturbed the better. I always check for root mealies and treat immediately before going on to the next step. After checking for bugs, shake the loose dirt from the roots. If the roots are wrapped around the inside of the pot you may have to get aggressive with them. They do need to be loose. Pull all dead material off of the roots. Know that while I say to treat rootscarefully they are succulent and somewhat forgiving. If roots are broken during repotting wait awhile to water, let them callous over.
Some Gasteria and Haworthia clumps fall apart once they are out of the pot, some require gentle wiggling to separate and some Gasterias in particular require strong muscles to pull apart or may need to be cut off the main stalk. Remember every break or cut needs to callus off before you put it back in the dirt. Once you have the pups separated clean all the dead leaves off and any dead material off the plants. Sometimes you will want to take off lower leaves also. To remove Gasteria leaves twist the leaf side to side and it should come off easily. Haworthias are more of a pinch off effort. Check for mealy bugs and scale on the plants while they are out of the pot. Treat or toss the plant depending on the rarity and love of the plant. Hybrid Gasterias can get Aloe Mite so also check for abnormal growth.
Replant the main plant or clump in a pot a bit bigger than the circumference of the plant. Depending on the type of roots choose a shallow or deep pot. For fat roots you want a deeper pot. Some Gasteria roots need to spread out so a shallow but bigger width pot is better, you can
use a staging rock to offset the plant.
As we approach our colder months in December and January we need make sure we protect our winter growing plants. In the eastern part of our county we can have some cold nights, succulents don’t like to be wet and cold so keep an eye on how you water during those months.
If you are treating with a systemic do it while it is still warm and before the plant blooms, if using contact bug treatment do it while it is still warm, but not too hot. Plan on treating the plants again in early spring to protect through their rest period. A lot of this applies to other plants from South Africa.