Aloe suffulta Reynolds
Climbing-flower Aloe, Sand Aloe
This species is native to South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal), Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, where it occurs in sandy soils with loose humus or on black cotton clays, but always in the shade of shrubs.
Aloe suffulta is a rarely seen succulent with short stems and dark glossy green leaves with many elongated dull white spots and pale cartilaginous deltoid teeth. It is usually solitary or suckering to form a dense clump. Leaves are narrowly deltoid, spreading to recurved, up to 20 inches (50 cm) long, up to 1.6 inches (4 cm) wide, and laxly crowded at the apex of the stems. They take on an incredible red to reddish-brown color in full sun. Stems are decumbent, up to 8 inches (20 cm) long, with distinct internodes and persistent dried leaves. Flowers are salmon-pink, whitish at the mouth, striped greenish longitudinally, and appear on slender, weak, up to 6.6 feet (2 m) long inflorescences in fall. The peduncle is 5- to 9-branched at the uppermost 12 to 20 inches (30 to 50 cm). Racemes are cylindrical, up to 6 inches (15 cm) long, up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter, and very laxly flowered.
The specific epithet "suffulta (suf-FUL-ta)" is the feminine form of "suffultus," perfect passive participle of the Latin verb "suffulcio." It means "propped up" or "supported" and refers to the inflorescence that is a climbing panicle supported by surrounding vegetation in the natural habitat of the species.
How to Grow and Care for Aloe suffulta
Light: When growing A. suffulta 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. suffulta 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.
Temperature: When temperatures shift below 50 °F (10 °C), it is time to bring your plant back inside. A. suffulta can withstand temperatures as low as 30 °F (-1.1 °C). USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10a to 11b, 30 to 50 °F (-1.1 to 10 °C).
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. suffulta 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. suffulta can be done using the offsets or seeds from a mature plant. Remove offsets from the mother plant 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 suffulta
A. suffulta is not listed as toxic for people and pets.
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