Aloe aristata, commonly called the torch plant or lace aloe, is a small succulent native to South Africa. Torch plants are frequently cultivated in home gardens and are a popular houseplant. Torch plants have a distinct, brightly-coloured inflorescence in late spring that attracts many animals to the plant. Aloe aristata makes an attractive specimen plants and require little care to thrive in your home garden. .
Aloe aristata is found growing in the Eastern and Western Cape of South Africa. However, the plant is native to Malutis and Drakensberg mountains in Lesotho, the landlocked country in the heart of South Africa where it can be found growing up to an elevation of 7,500 feet, according to the University of Connecticut. Aloe aristata is a resilient plant that can survive cool temperatures as well as warm, sunny conditions in nature.
There are over 400 species of succulent plants in the aloe genus, all of which are indigenous to Africa, according to the University of California, Davis. Aloe aristata is a type of dwarf aloe that grows in compact clumps. The scientific name aristata means awned, and is named so for the small rigid growth habits of the leaves that bend inward toward the centre of the plant, according to Calflora. Like other succulents in the aloe genus, torch plants store water in their fat leaves to use during periods of drought.
Aloe aristata is a small plant with a compact rosette-like growth pattern. Leaves are numerous, short -- no more than 8 to 12 inches tall -- and ridged; the leaves a are often covered in white spots. In late spring the plants develop an elaborate inflorescence. A tall spike grows up to 30 inches above the plant and produces several slender flowers 1 inch in length; flowers are red to pink in colour and have a tubular shape.
Aloe aristata grows readily in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 11. Torch plants should be placed in an area where they receive full sunlight. Aloe aristata is drought tolerant but should be watered frequently through the summer to promote healthy growth. Water sparingly in winter to prevent root rot problems. Remove flowers and flower spikes after the plant has blooms in spring. Aloe aristata is easily be propagated by removing offshoots that the plant produces regularly and planting them in a separate location.
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