Botanical Name — Aloe brevifolia
Common Name — Short-leaved aloe
Plant Family — Asphodelaceae
Aloe brevifolia is a succulent originating from South Africa. It grows low to the ground and spreads, making it a choice plant for ground cover. Short clusters of green heads are tipped with red spines. Though it is found quite commonly in cultivation, Aloe brevifolia is critically endangered in its natural habitat due to encroaching farmland.
- Aloe brevifolia will thrive in several hours of bright, full sun daily. Provide partial shade in the afternoon to shelter the plant from the harshest hours of sunlight.
- Aloe plants are semi arid and will tolerate some humidity but do not require it. Ideal temperatures for Aloe are between 55 and 80 ºF.
- Bring the plant inside if temperatures drop below 40 ºF regularly.
- Aloe plants are extremely drought tolerant, storing large quantities of water in their thick, succulent leaves. During the warm months, water these plants thoroughly and deeply, only once the soil has completely dried out.
- When the temperature cools down, cut down on watering, to about once every two months.
- Aloe brevifolia require a gritty, well-drained mix. Use a soil made for cacti or succulents, or amend potting soil with pumice or sand up to 50% to improve drainage.
- Aloe brevifolia flower during the summer. Pinkish-red flowers are borne in clusters at the terminal end of a spike about 15 inches tall.
- These plants rarely flower indoors, but given plenty of sunlight and heat, it is possible.
- Aloe brevifolia do not require fertilization. If you want to give them a boost in summer, it is okay to fertilize sparingly, no more than once a month, using a balanced fertilizer diluted to half strength, or one specifically formulated for cacti and succulents.
- Never fertilize in winter.
- Aloe brevifolia is easily propagated by separating new heads that form on the outside of the cluster. Place the cutting in soil and allow to root. The best time to do this is summer.
- Aloe also germinates readily from seed. Keep the soil evenly moist and create a humid environment to encourage growth until the plant has established itself, at least a few months.
- Aloe brevifolia are not particularly susceptible to pests or disease though there are some common infections to be vigilant of.
- Aloe rust is caused by a fungus and causes black or brown spots on the leaves. The disease is self-limiting as lesions will oxidize and seal themselves off from the rest of the plant and prevent spread.
- Root rot and soft rot on the leaves are other infections that can be either fungal or bacterial. Overwatering and the accumulation of water in the crown both increase Aloe’s susceptibility to these issues. Prevent this by watering only when the soil is thoroughly dry, and avoid direct overhead watering.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Little to no maintenance is required to care for Aloe plants. Repotting should be done infrequently as Aloe have shallow root systems and prefer to be root bound. Once every two to three years up-pot aloe into a container about two inches larger in diameter.
- Oral ingestion of Aloe brevifolia is potentially toxic and can cause abdominal cramps and diarrhea in both pets and humans.