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Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe)

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Scientific Name

Aloe arborescens Mill.

Common Name(s)

Candelabra Aloe, Candelabra Plant, Krantz Aloe, Mountain Bush Aloe, Octopus Plant, Sword Aloe, Torch Aloe, Torch Plant, Tree Aloe

Synonym(s)

Aloe arborescens subsp. arborescens, Aloe fructicosa, Aloe perfoliata var. arborescens, Catevala arborescens

Scientific Classification

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Tribe: Aloeae
Genus: Aloe

Origin

This species is native to Africa's southeastern summer rainfall areas (South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi).

Description

Aloe arborescens is a large succulent shrub with branching stems that hold attractive rosettes of pale green, yellowish, or sometimes blue-green leaves. It grows up to 10 feet (3 m) tall. Each rosette is up to 18 inches (45 cm) in diameter. Leaves are fleshy, narrow, and with conspicuous teeth along the edges. Flowers are cylindrical, vibrant red-orange, and appear in late fall and early winter. The inflorescence is usually unbranched and rises to 2 feet (60 cm) above the foliage.

Etymology

The specific epithet "arborescens (ar-bo-RES-senz)" means "becoming a tree" or "tree-like" and refers to the tree-like growth of older specimens. It is the present active participle of the Latin verb "arboresco."

Aloe arborescens (Torch Aloe)

Photo by Pluteus

How to Grow and Care for Aloe arborescens

Light: When growing A. arborescens indoors, place your plant near a window that gets plenty of bright indirect light. Rotate the pot once or twice a week so that all sides of the plant receive equal lighting. Outdoors, provide light shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

Soil: Plant A. arborescens in a well-drained soil mix specially formulated for succulents or make your own. Drainage is essential because too much moisture around roots can cause root rot.

Hardiness: When temperatures shift below 50 °F (10 °C), it is time to bring your plant back inside. A. arborescens can withstand temperatures as low as 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b.

Watering: This succulent does need regular watering but is very tolerant of drought conditions for short periods. Water deeply, but only when the soil is dry. Cut back on watering during the winter months. Do not let water stand in the rosettes.

Fertilizing: A. arborescens generally does not require fertilizer but may benefit from the extra nutrients. Feed with a fertilizer for succulents in spring and summer only. Be sure to follow label directions.

Repotting: This plant is not particularly fast-growing and will only rarely need repotting. Repot it in the spring in a container a few inches larger in diameter every few years to keep it from becoming rootbound.

Propagation: Propagating A. arborescens can be done using the offsets, cuttings, or seeds from a mature plant. Remove offsets from the mother plant or take cuttings with a sharp knife in late spring or early summer. For best results, sow seeds during the warm months.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aloe.

Toxicity of Aloe arborescens

Although A. arborescens is known for its beneficial effects on human health, it can be mildly toxic to cats and dogs when ingested.

Forms, Cultivars, and Hybrids of Aloe arborescens

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