Gonialoe variegata, formely know Aloe variegata, is a popular, dwarf succulent. It is commonly known as Tiger Aloe or Partridge Breast Aloe. This attractive succulent was first found by Simon Van Der Stel's expedition to Namaqualand on 16 October 1685, in the vicinity of Copperberg in the Springbok District of the Northern Cape. It is found over large areas in the arid or semi-arid regions of South Africa and in the southern parts of Namibia.
Tiger Aloe grows in a clump and stays low to the ground, usually up to 1 foot (30 cm) tall. Plants may be solitary, but generally form dense rosettes with many offsets and spread through underground rhizomes. Its smooth, thick leaves are triangular in shape with ridges along their surface. The spotted foliage does not produce any spines, but has a soft surface with white edges. The blooms appear in late spring on hanging spikes in pink, red or yellow. After flowering, a capsule-like fruit appears, that splits into 3 parts, with wing-like seeds.
The specific epithet "variegata" is Latin and means "irregularly spotted", referring to the attractive spotted bands on the leaf surfaces. The common Afrikaans name "Kanniedood" when translated to English means "cannot die", and refers to the plant's ability to survive for years without water.
No medicinal uses are recorded for Tiger Aloe. Many beliefs are attached to this delightful species. It is said that some indigenous people to this day, hang plants inside the huts of young women and if the plant flowers, this indicates that the women is fertile and will have many children. Plants are also planted on graves in the belief that it will lead to eternal life.
Growing Conditions and General Care
Tiger Aloe has the same requirements as Aloes. The plant is suited for warmer zones and may be taken outside in summer in cooler areas. Don't forget to bring it in when cold temperatures are approaching, as the plant is only hardy in USDA hardiness zone 9 to 11. The majority of gardeners will find it easier to grow the plant inside alone in a container or as part of a succulent display.
Water deeply but rarely and let the soil dry out between watering. The plant grows slowly but should be repotted every 3 years in a cacti and succulent soil mix. The biggest problem that occurs with Tiger Aloe is overwatering, which can cause the plant to rot.
A fun thing about these plants is their ability to produce fully vegetative babies or offsets for propagation. Divide these away from the parent plant and place them in a container. They will root quickly and provide you with more of this amazing plants to populate your landscape or give away to an appreciative friend.
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