Aloe arborescens is also known as the Torch Aloe or Candelabra plant. It is a member of the Aloe genus making is a sibling of the very popular Aloe Vera plant. Both are members of the Asphodelaceae family.
It is also worth noting that unlike some other aloe plants, the Aloe arborescens can grow into a small tree. This is why it is called arborescens, which means “like a tree”.
It can be grown both indoors and outdoors. You can likewise plant it in the ground or in a container. In most cases, people keep it near the window because of its preferences for bright light. However, larger plants are kept on the floor.
It is a fast grower that gets as tall as 5 feet high. Outdoors, it can reach up to 10 feet or so. Thus, if you want to limit its size, it is a good idea to use smaller containers and regularly prune the plant.
Its most notable features are no doubt its thick succulent leaves and overall appearance. Both features are what make aloes distinct from other houseplants.
Its lovely leaves come with a bluish green hue. They are also adorned with small spikes that run up and down the edges.
While not known for its blooms, the plant does produce flowers.
The Aloe arborescens is a native of South Africa. As such, it is used to warm weather. Thus it is a good idea to keep it in such conditions for the best growth.
The Aloe arborescens is both grown for its decorative and medicinal purposes. Much like aloe vera, the sap from its leave can help with wound healing and treating minor burns. It also has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Aloe Arborescens Plant Care
Aloe Arborescens Light Requirements
Aloe arborescens are popular houseplants because they are easy to care for an live for many years. Plus, they’re in season all year long. So, you never see the plant apart from its best.
That said, it does need plenty of light to look its best. It can tolerate light shade. But, like cacti and other succulents, your Aloe arborescens loves bright light.
Just as importantly, it can handle direct sunlight and sun for long hours daily. This differentiates it from other succulents which need some kind of protection with long hours of sun or intense direct light.
That said, you do need to watch the plant during the hottest times of summer when temperatures hit 90 degrees or higher and the plant is right smack under the sun’s rays for most of the day.
Depending on how it has been acclimated, it may need some shade and likely more watering. On the other hand, if it was gradually made accustomed to these conditions, it won’t have a problem with it.
The same is true outdoors.
Keep in mind that outdoor sun is more intense compared that that indoors. This is simply because the sun comes from all directions when outside. Indoors, it will often only come from the side of the window, while the walls and ceiling block the rest.
As such outdoors, you may need to keep it under partial sun or shade during the hottest parts of the day especially during summertime.
Ultimately, this means indoors, consider the following locations:
- East facing window – will be ideal. Long hours of sun without overly intense light. It will get plenty of bright light to keep it happy.
- West and South facing window – plenty of light as well. But, do see if the plant gets hot at noon and the peak times of the afternoons when the sun is most intense. If it does either water more or keep it in indirect light during these times.
- North facing window – not ideal. Depending on where you live, and how much light comes through the window, it may survive. But, it won’t grow at its best.
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Aloe arborescens are warm-weather plants. They enjoy moderate to warm temperatures, ideally between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
As such, they do best in USDA Hardiness zones 9 to 11. This makes them popular outdoor plants in these areas. Although, their likewise houseplant favorites as well.
Besides the low maintenance and being easy to care for, growers like the plant because of its lovely thick, succulent leaves, large bright-colored flowers and winter blooming.
If you want to attract pollinators to your garden, you’ll likewise be glad to know that its nectar draws in bees, butterflies and birds.
However, its one biggest weakness is cold weather. It cannot tolerate frost or freezing conditions.
This means you won’t be able to keep it outdoors through the winter if temperatures in your area drop under 40 degrees. Ideally, once the weather hits 50 degrees, it is time to bring the plant indoors.
Alternatively, keeping it as a houseplant allows you to enjoy its beauty all year long in controlled conditions.
Most houseplants enjoy the same warm conditions as the Aloe arborescens. They also like humidity, which can sometimes make it more difficult to care for them depending on where you live and how dry the winters get.
Fortunately, that’s less of a problem with your Aloe arborescens.
It does not need high humidity. Nor does it like very humid conditions. This makes average household humidity just right for it.
Like other succulents, it can run into problems when kept in high humidity. This includes fungal problems which can stem from the excess moisture.
As a result, it can cause the plants leaves to drop. And, if kept in humid locations for a long time they will eventually deteriorate and die.
This makes bathrooms and kitchens poor locations to keep the plant. Similarly, if you live in a humid place, it may be a good idea to get a dehumidifier.
As you would expect, don’t mist or spray the plant with water either.
How Often to Water Aloe Arborescens
Aloe arborescens are drought tolerant plants. It’s also worth mentioning that they’re salt tolerant just in case you happen to live near the beach or sea where the soil may contain a bit more salt.
As such, they can withstand some dryness. You likewise don’t have to worry too much about them if you go on vacation and forget to water them beforehand.
The reason for this is the plants are mostly made up of water. And, just as importantly, their thick, fleshy succulent leaves store water very much like cacti do. This is what allows the latter to survive long periods without watering.
However, for the best results, you want to water them regularly during the summer. Avoid letting the soil completely dry.
But, do wait for the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil to dry before watering again. The worse thing you can do to this plant is overwater it.
And, since it is already retaining quite a bit of water in its foliage, it is not hard to do so.
In the winter, cut back on watering to about 2 or 3 times a month. The goal here is to keep the soil moist enough from completely drying out.
Soil for Aloe Arborescens
Aloe arborescens does best in sandy or gravely soil that is well draining. It is less fussy about the kind of soil than it is about drainage. As such, the latter should always be the priority.
Similarly, avoid overwatering, too much water retention or waterlogging. All of these are big no-no’s with this plant just like cacti and other succulents. If you allow it to sit in water for long periods, it will soon develop root rot.
The best way to achieve this kind of soil is to use a good quality commercial cactus mix. You can likewise use a succulent mix with the same features.
If you can’t find one or prefer to make your own, you have a few options. Some DIY potting soil recipes for your Aloe arborescens include:
- Equal parts of potting soil, sand and perlite. You can add gravel to the base for good measure. All 3 ingredients outside of the potting soil are designed to improve drainage.
- Potting mix, perlite and coarse sand also works.
- 2/3 potting mix combined with 1/3 perlite
Well-draining and well-aerated soil are what you want.
It is also worth keeping in mind that the plant is a fast grower. So, if you decide to keep it in a container, you’ll likely need a big one that will give it enough space.
But, be careful not to overpot it. This will allow too much soil to surround the plant’s roots.
When you water the soil, it will cause moisture to sit for too long before drying, leading to root disease problems.
Feed your Aloe arborescens a balanced liquid fertilizer once a month during its growing season. It does need not to be fed during the winter.
Like water, the general rule here is to stay on the cautious side and use less than more.
Too much fertilizer is never good for plants because of the salt residue the leave behind. This can result in root and leaf burns over time.
Aloe arborescens does not need much pruning. However, considering that the plant grow to 5 feet tall, this may not be something all home growers want.
As such, to limit its size, you can use a combination of keeping it in a container and puning.
Growing plants indoors and in containers significantly reduces their size compared to what they’d normally get to outdoors.
Similarly, prune branches that get too big. You can likewise trim it to control its shape.
Overall, the plant is low maintenance and won’t need a lot of intervention as long as it received the right living environment.
Aloe Arborescens Propagation
Aloe arborescens can be propagated in a few ways. The most popular ones are from offsets (pups), stem cuttings and seed.
Here’s how to do each.
How to Propagate Aloe Arborescens from Offsets
Offsets or pups are young plants that grow out from the base of the mother plant. These eventually grow into their own individual plants. So, you can separate them and repot them to do so.
- Once you see offsets growing, allow them to keep doing so until they reach above 2 inches long.
- The best time to propagate them is when you repot the mother plant since you’ll be repotting the young ones as well.
- Separate the offsets and repot when they get the right size.
How to Propagate Aloe Arborescens from Stem Cuttings
- The best time to propagate your Aloe arborescens via stem cuttings is in springtime.
- Start by removing lower leaves from the plant.
- Leave the cuttings to dry. You want the cut/wound to callous and health. It takes anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days or so.
- In the meantime, fill a small container with fresh cactus mix. You can likewise make your own potting soil from the recipes above.
- Once the cutting has dried, plant it into he potting soil.
- Water lightly and do so sparingly to keep the soil slightly moist. Avoid too much water as it can result in rotting.
- After a few weeks, the cutting will develop roots.
How to Propagate Aloe Arborescens from Seed
Starting from seed takes longer than the other methods. It takes about a month or so for the seeds to germinate.
Make sure to keep them in a warm place away from cold and frost.
How to Repot Aloe Arborescens
Aloe arborescens are fast growers. And, it can grow up to 5 feet high and 18 inches wide.
As such, you’ll need to repot it once in a while.
If you own a young plant, expect to do so more often as you’ll incrementally need to go up a size at a time. As they mature, the frequency does decrease.
However, once the plant has outgrown its current container, it is time to move to a larger pot.
The best time to do this is during summer.
Similarly, Aloe arborescens will produce offsets (pup) after a while. If you spot them, know that you can grow them into their own separate plants.
As such, when the offsets are big enough, repot them as well.
Aloe arborescens does not have the medicinal or topical benefits of aloe vera. As such, there’s no need to try to use it for any health purpose.
In addition, it is mildly toxic for pets including dogs and cats. As such, keep animals and young children away from the plant. Ingesting parts of the plant can cause gastrointestinal problems.
Pests can be a problem. The most common are mealybugs and scale insects which can attach your Aloe arborescens’ leaves.
If there are few of them, you can use a piece of cotton dabbed in rubbing alcohol to remove them one by one.
If there are more, it is easier to spray with insecticidal soap or use dishwashing soap and water to eradicate them. Note that treatment takes a few weeks.
Aloe arborescens very rarely experience disease. This makes them very easy to care for.
However, you do need to be careful with moisture. Both high humidity and excess watering, be it too much water or waterlogging, can cause problems.
As such, they are very preventable. And, for the most part are “man-made”.
High humidity increases the risk of fungal problems. Meanwhile, root rot can happen if the plant’s sit in water for too long.
As such, good air circulation, warm and sunny locations are ideal.