Aloe brevifolia is a relatively unknown aloe species in our country. Yet, it is pretty easy to care for and propagate. It is also super suitable as a small ground cover for indoor beds.
You will learn how to care for the serrated aloe and much more in this care guide.
Origin of the Aloe brevifolia
The Aloe brevifolia comes from South Africa. There it is found mainly in the coastal region and the bushveld. It belongs to the subfamily of the asphodel plants (Asphodeloideae).
Its name comprises brevis for “short” and folius for “leafy”. It is also known as “short-leaved aloe”, crocodile plant, Kleinaalwyn, and blue aloe.
Appearance and distinguishing features of short-leaved aloe
Like many succulents, blue aloe forms rosettes. These can contain up to 40 leaves. The leaves themselves grow to about 6 cm (2 inches) long. They reach a width of up to 2 cm (0.5 inch).
At the edges of the leaves are small thorns or teeth, which can become up to 3 mm (1/8th inch) long. Their light white colour contrasts nicely with the leaves dark mint-green tone. Partly they even go into the grey.
That is not the least due to the wax-like layer on the leaves.
You can also find white spots on the underside of the leaves.
If the leaves get a lot of direct sunlight, they turn reddish or yellowish. That happens with other Aloe species like Aloe juvenna and is nothing to worry about.
Although the rosette can grow up to 30 cm (12 inches) tall and wide, it does not form a stem.
Unlike many other plants, its growing season is in spring and fall. During the summer and winter, growth stagnates, leading owners to worry at first that the plant is diseased.
If the right conditions prevail in spring, You can admire a flower. This forms in the form of a raceme. It sits at the top of a shoot up to 40 cm (16 inches) long.
The flowers themselves are elongated, almost cylindrical. They can be red but also orange.
Overall, the flowers are very reminiscent of the flowers of the torch lily.
You can find a picture of the flowers here.
Other varieties of Aloe brevifolia
Besides the normal Aloe brevifolia, there are three other recognized varieties:
- Aloe brevifolia var. brevifolia
- Aloe brevifolia var. depressa (a much larger variant of Aloe brevifolia)
- Aloe brevifolia var. postgenita (variant has slightly larger leaves than Aloe brevifolia)
The optimal location for the corky plant
As a succulent, the crocodile plant prefers a full sun location. However, it also tolerates partial shade. In its optimal place, it gets 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
A south-facing window is best if you keep it as a houseplant all year round.
Due to its native habitat, it tolerates the full sun and heat very well. Nevertheless, it would be best if you did not leave it in the blazing sun for too long on hot days.
If the temperature is constantly above 10 °C in spring, you can put the succulent outdoors. Try to accustom the plant to partial shade and little direct sunlight first.
After a change of location, you should pause watering for a few days. That will allow the succulent to adjust to its new location undisturbed.
Overwintering the blue aloe
The Aloe brevifolia is not hardy; therefore, it should not be exposed to temperatures below -7 °C. A cool (about 9 °C to 15 °C) but still bright location in the apartment or conservatory is best.
If the location fails because of the light conditions, you can use a plant light during overwintering.
If the conditions are not provided, the plant will continue to grow through the winter. That often leads to yellowing. It gives up its compact growth and forms long, thin shoots.
That is how it tries to seek the light.
In addition to the location, you should significantly reduce watering. Fertilising is stopped completely.
As a succulent, blue aloe stores water and nutrients in its leaves. That allows it to survive extended periods of drought well.
As with many other succulents, Aloe brevifolia should be watered thoroughly. Then it is not watered until about 2/3 of the substrate has dried. In summer, you can do this within days. In winter, it can take several weeks.
Another good indicator of when it is time to water is the leaves. If they become shrivelled, the houseplant’s water reserves are depleted.
Succulents do not need many nutrients. Nevertheless, you can support the short-leaved aloe in its growth phase with fertiliser additions.
I use a liquid succulent fertiliser* for succulents. The fertiliser is added to the water every four to eight weeks during the growth phases in spring and fall.
Depending on the size of your aloe, you can also use a lower dosage. However, up to three fertiliser doses should be administered during growth.
The perfect substrate
The sensitive roots are susceptible to wetness. Even evenly moist substrate can lead to root rot. Therefore, the substrate must have sufficient drainage.
Succulent soil is super suitable for this purpose. If you mix your own succulent potting mix, you can adjust it, so it will be a perfect fit for your conditions. You can increase drainage properties if you wish by adding sand and lava granules*.
It is also possible to grow in purely mineral substrates such as clay granules* or other mineral substrate mixtures, and in some cases, this may even be the better choice. In this case, however, you must provide the succulent with nutrients.
Until the third year of its life, it is advisable to repot the Pilea glauca annually. In the years after that, it is sufficient to repot it. There is nothing special to consider when repotting. Just follow the following points, and you should not have any problems.
- The best time to repot is in spring
- You can repot young plants annually
- The interval stretches from a diameter of 20 cm (8 inches) for two to three years.
Pruning is not necessary for Aloe brevifolia. You should remove only diseased and dead leaves regularly.
Propagating Aloe brevifolia
Unlike most Aloe species, propagation via leaves is hardly possible with Aloe brevifolia. Therefore I advise against this method. However, this should not be a loss, as the small-leaved aloe diligently creates offshoots.
In addition to offshoots, the aloe can also be propagated by seed.
Propagation by offshoots
As already mentioned, Aloe brevifolia produces a relatively large number of cuttings. That is partly because offshoots are its primary method of propagation.
From a size of about 5 cm (2 inches), offshoots can be separated from the mother plant. To do this, cut the stalk in the substrate towards the mother plant. This way, the shoot, including the roots, can be separated from the mother plant.
After that, the cut must be left to dry overnight. That will reduce the risk of rot and infection. After that, place the cuttings in succulent soil. Its care does not differ from the care of the mother plant.
Propagation by seed
The alternative to cuttings is seeds. However, they are challenging to find.
To make the seeds germinate, they are placed on perlite* or clay granules*. That is moistened and placed in a greenhouse* or a transparent bag.
If you choose the bag, you can seal it airtight. This way, you won’t have to water again during the process.
Otherwise, keep the chosen substrate evenly moist. Place the seeds in partial shade. Temperatures should be between 20 °C and 30 °C during the day. At night, they may drop to as low as 18 °C.
The seeds can germinate after only four weeks. But don’t worry if you don’t see any sprouts at this point. Germination can take up to 16 weeks.
Once the seedlings are about 5 cm (2 inches) tall, you can repot them in succulent soil. They are then cared for like a full-grown Aloe brevifolia.
Diseases, pests, and care mistakes
The short-leaved aloe is rarely ill in our area. However, this is usually due to a care error if it gets yellow leaves.
During the summer, you don’t have to worry about pests. During the winter, however, mealybugs may infest the Aloe brevifolia.
You can recognize mealybugs by their white, wool-like shells. They like to sit between and under leaves. If you detect an infestation, wiping the pests with a cloth soaked in alcohol is often sufficient.
You can also use a No products found. if the infestation is more extensive.
Although the short-leaved aloe is very easy to care for, care mistakes can occur from time to time.
Yellow leaves can have different causes:
- Nutrient deficiency
- Water deficiency
- Natural death of the lowest leaves
Try to find out the cause of yellow leaves by the process of elimination.
Yellow and soft leaves
If the leaves are not only yellow but also soft, it is most likely due to overwatering. In this case, you should check the roots for root rot.
Decayed roots can recognize root rot. Remove all reddened roots and plant the Aloe brevifolia in a fresh substrate. Keep it drier over the next few weeks to allow the roots to recover.
If the leaves become shrivelled, there is a lack of water. The leaves become shrivelled because their water reserves are depleted. However, after watering, they become plump again.
Let me answer your questions!
Is Aloe brevifolia poisonous?
Aloe brevifolia is slightly poisonous. Therefore, it should not be consumed by humans or animals. Especially for children and pets, it should be out of reach.
Don’t miss out!
Aloe brevifolia. (2015, April 4). In Wikipedia. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_brevifolia
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