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How to Grow and Care for a Torch Aloe (Aloe arborescens)

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Aloe arborescens, commonly know as Torch Aloe or Krantz Aloe, is prized for its colorful flowers and attractive foliage. It is an evergreen, succulent shrub with branching stems holding many decorative rosettes. Each rosette consists of widely spreading, gray-green, sword-shaped leaves with conspicuous pale teeth along their edges. In winter, large, conical, bright red to orange flower spikes are borne in profusion above the foliage. The inflorescences are usually unbranched, with 2 or more arising from a single rosette. Offsets normally appear around the base when plants are two or three years old. It is a "must-have" for anyone wanting to stock their herb gardens with indigenous healing plants.

Torch Aloe is endemic to the southeastern part of southern Africa. It is adapted to many habitats, but is usually found in mountainous areas where it favors exposed ridges and rocky outcrops. It is also found in dense bush.

Growing Conditions and General Care

Torch Aloe is an easy and rewarding plant to grow and is a popular garden plant in many countries. It enjoys full sun, well-drained, compost-enriched soil and can tolerate moderate frost but is sensitive to severe frost. It is fast-growing and it will tolerate drought and neglect once established. It is grown mainly as an ornamental or as an accent plant, but is also an excellent and impenetrable hedge plant.

During the active growth period water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the potting soil thoroughly moist. During the rest period water only enough to prevent the soil from drying out. Apply standard liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the active growth period.

It grows well in normal room temperatures and is tolerant of dry air. To encourage flowering, however, it is best to give the plants a short winter rest at a temperature of no more that 50°F (10°C).

Repotting

Torch Aloe should be moved into one size larger pot every spring.

Propagation

Offsets can be taken from the base of the plant in early summer. These small new rosettes are often attached to the parent by a short underground stolon and may already have little roots, which should be retained for propagation purposes.

This Aloe can also be grown from seed, sown in spring. Seed should take 3 to 4 weeks to germinate and the seedlings must be protected from frost.

Pests and Diseases

Virtually disease free. Watch for scale insects and mealybugs.

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