Aloe microstigma subsp. microstigma
Aloe microstigma is native of South Africa. It’s widespread in Northern, Eastern and Western Cape provinces, and also it’s present in Southern Namibia. Its habitats are various: from flat, open areas to rocky slopes.
Aloe microstigma is a perennial plant, which can reach 60 centimeters of height. It can be found isolated or in small groups. Leaves are grouped in rosettes: they are normally blue-greenish, but they can turn brownish-red in conditions of environmental stress. On both surfaces of the leaves there are white spots, and their margins is provided with reddish teeth. The inflorescences are stems carrying a raceme (cluster) of bicoloured flowers: while budding they are red, and they turn orange during flowering itself.
Aloe microstigma requires a well-drained soil, composed of one third of sand or pebbles, to prevent roots rotting. Also leaf rotting can occur, if you wet too much the leaves while watering and you water too much frequently. Watering can be almost completely suspended in winter (once a month it’s sufficient) and, in spring and summer, watering once or twice every two weeks is sufficient. Before each watering, it’s better to wait until the soil is completely dry. Aloe microstigma needs bright light, especially in winter. It can survive temperatures close to 0ºC. If you want to cultivate it outdoors, put it under full exposure to sunlight and provide it with protections from cold in winters.
The best way to propagate Aloe microstigma is by seed. Seeds should be fresh: don’t wait too much after they have been harvested, because they can be damaged while drying up. Sow in a river sand substrate and cover the seed lightly. Keep the soil moist until they germinate: it takes more or less two weeks.
Aloe microstigma is not recorded as a medicinal plant, although its sap is good for wounds or burns. It is especially used to attract the pollinator insects or birds in horticulture, for its remarkable winter blossoming.