Aloe mitriformis variegata
Aloe mitriformis f. variegata
Aloes are generally native from South Africa, but Aloe mitriformis variegata is a nursery produced cultivar.
Aloe mitriformis variegata is a pretty, creeping plant, with leaves grouped in a rosette. Leaves are characteristic for their variety of colours: their are blueish green, but they can show yellow stripes and tinges of red on the top. Plants exposed to direct, continuous sunlight often manifest more bluish leaves than the plants living in a more shady area. Leaves margins are provided with harmless white teeth, which become yellow as the plant grows elder. The inflorescence is an elongated stem bearing a dense raceme (cluster) of scarlet flowers, and the plant can develop up to five blossoming stems.
Aloe mitriformis variegata is a very tough plant. It requires a well-drained acid 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 has to be abundant. Before each watering, it’s better to wait until the soil is completely dry. Aloe mitriformis variegata needs bright light to enhance the variety of colours of its leaves, but partial shade to ensure an healthy blossoming. It can survive temperatures close to 0ºC, but frost cause wounds on the leaves which ruin the aspect of the plant. If you want to cultivate it outdoors, put it under full exposure to sunlight and provide it with protections from cold in winters. Actually it is a creeping, suckering plant, so it will tend to spread all around.
Reproduction can be done by taking off one of its offsets and replanting it in a river sand substrate.
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. Morover, Aloe species are frequently cultivated as ornamental plants both in gardens and in pots because they are highly decorative and are valued by collectors of succulents.