Aloe aristata f. variegated
Aloe aristata var. leiophylla
Aloe aristata f. variegated is native to Cape Provinces, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho
Aloe aristata f. variegated is an uncommon succulent belonging to the Aloaceae botanical family. The plant is stemless and forms a rosette of 50-60 leaves that can reach up to 20 cm in diameter and 20 cm in height. The leaves are bright green, long, triangular, fleshy, curved inwards with bristly margins and with a thin filament at the tip of the leaves. The pages of the leaves are covered with dense creamy white dots and stripes that are rough to the touch. Blooming occurs from the late spring to the early summer and the blossoms are borne at the center of the rosette. The inflorescence is a cluste of tubular flowers. The flowers are funnel-shaped, small, pinkish to orange in color and are borne by stalks up to 75 cm long. The plant with its very attractive appearance is perfect to decorate the windowsills of your home. The variegated form has the leaves with patches or stripes of yellow colours, even distinct shades of green.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 8° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer and going down further it no longer survives. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The best draining soil for this genus is made up of 60% fertile loam and 40% pumice. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. During the vegetative period you can water the plant every 5 days with half a glass of water, checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant is used to growing in poor soils, for this reason it does not need abundant fertilization, it is sufficient to fertilize once in spring and once in summer. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil; it is usually done every 3-4 years. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
The easiest and fast method of propagation is to use cuttings. By cutting you can use the many offsets the plant forms during the spring. Cut an offset and then let it dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. Propagation by seed it is not recommended for this species because it is very slow. To fast the propagation, you can try to immerse the seeds in water for 1 day. Sow the seeds in a sandy loam and keep them in warm, humid conditions.
Aloe-based products (and in particular Aloe Vera varieties) have been experiencing a period of intense commercial exploitation for some years, which is only partially justified by the actual plant properties. The name Aloe comes from the Arabic “aluat” which means “bitter thing”, due to the bitter juice of its leaves. The specific epithet “aristata” refers to the bristle-like spine borne at the tip of the leaves and also called “arista”. The variegation is due to the loss of the ability to produce chlorophyll in some tissues of the plant, so that this tissue is no longer green. Chlorophyll-free tissues are usually white or pale yellow coloured (due to carotenoid pigments) in contrast to the normal green tissue.
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