Aloe castilloniae

Synonyms:

No synonyms are recorded for this name.

Habitat:

Aloe castilloniae is a unique type of aloe that grows close to the ground and spreads out extensively, forming groups that can reach up to a meter in diameter. Its uncommon appearance and scarcity make it a sought-after species in the market.

Description:

Aloe castilloniae is a unique type of aloe that grows close to the ground and spreads out extensively, forming groups that can reach up to a meter in diameter. Its uncommon appearance and scarcity make it a sought-after species in the market.
The stems of this plant grow like vines, starting from the base and extending horizontally, reaching lengths between 40 to 180 cm. They’re about 1 cm thick and covered with dry leaves all the way to the top.
The leaves are arranged in rosettes at the ends of the stems, with 30 to 40 leaves in each rosette. They’re pointed and rigid, with a triangular shape, and come in a blue-green or dull green color. The surface of the leaves feels rough and is adorned with small red bumps or teeth, about 1 to 2 mm long. At the tips, there are three small spines. Along the edges, there are prominent, triangular, red teeth, spaced about 3 to 6 mm apart.
When it flowers, Aloe castilloniae produces inflorescences, which are basically clusters of flowers held on a stem, up to 6.5 cm long. These clusters can have two to nine bright orange-red flowers, each about 23 mm long. The flowers have a slight curve and are supported by an 8 mm long stalk. The base of the flower, called the tube, is about 6 mm in diameter where it surrounds the ovary. It tapers above to about 4 mm and then widens again to 8 mm at the opening. The outer parts of the flower are not tightly joined together. The stamens and style extend out about 3 mm from the flower.

Cultivation:

Caring for Aloe castilloniae is a rewarding and uncomplicated task. It can thrive in containers or in a rock garden, especially in warm regions. This plant is hardy, able to withstand both sunlight and drought, and can also do well in partial shade. It typically experiences active growth in the fall and winter, and propagates easily.
For soil, it prefers a well-draining mix. Outdoors, it does best in gritty soil with added pea gravel rather than nutrient-rich loamy soil. Repotting should only be done if you notice roots emerging from the drainage holes of the pot.
Feeding Aloe castilloniae should occur once a season with a diluted water-soluble foliage houseplant fertilizer. For outdoor plants, trim old stems to ground level in the spring and apply a small amount of general-purpose fertilizer. Make sure to water thoroughly to help the fertilizer reach the roots.
Watering should be done sparingly, as excessive moisture can lead to rot. Water when the soil is dry to the touch, and allow the root ball to completely dry out before watering again. While this plant can withstand drought, it generally benefits from moderate and regular watering. During winter, it requires very little water, as its succulent leaves store enough moisture for an extended period. Outdoor plants seldom need extra watering, except during prolonged dry spells.
Aloe castilloniae thrives in full sun to light shade, with good airflow. While it enjoys sunny spots, in warmer climates, it’s advisable to shield it from excessive sun exposure, as it’s not highly heat tolerant. It’s crucial to protect this plant from frost, as it is sensitive to freezing temperatures.

Propagation:

This resilient plant can quickly be propagated through summer cuttings. Simply take a small section of the stem and let it air dry for about 2-3 days until a callus forms. Then, place the end of the stem into a pot filled with well-draining soil. Give it a good watering and position the pot in a well-lit area away from direct sunlight. Water whenever the top inch of soil appears dry. Within a few weeks, it will establish sturdy roots. Alternatively, it can also be grown from seeds.

Curiosity:

These plants are excellent additions to rock gardens, dish gardens, or as ground cover in arid regions, particularly on slopes.
As for the etymology of the name “Aloe”, it is believed to have originated from the Arabic word “Alloeh,” which means “shining bitter substance.” This refers to the sap or gel found in the leaves of Aloe plants, which has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries.

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