(Aloe arborescens, Krantz Aloe)
Hardiness: to 22 degrees F.
Perennial succulent native to South Africa. Growing up to 8 feet tall, the plant flowers coral-red in the fall and/or winter. Plants produce one or more upright stalks with the showy rosettes perched on top, leaves rimmed by large, soft and harmless spines, filled with gel, also laden with the yellow anthroquinone known as "aloin." Like Aloe Vera, Aloe arborescens is a preferred species for production of aloe gel, which contains alantoin and speeds healing of open sores, cuts and scratches quite noticeably. Great for treating sunburn. Aloe arborescens is listed in "Aloes of South Africa" as one of the four main species used medicinally. The leaves of the plant, containing both the anthraquinone-laden underskin and the gel, are used in making anticancer medicines for treating advanced stages of cancer--after metastasis. This activity is attributed to 3 different mechanisms: antiproliferative, immunostimulatory and antioxidant. Here is a link to more information about the active constituents in Aloe arborescens and its use in treating cancer http://www.aloearborescens.org/SciResearch4.pdf
Aloe arborescens is an excellent choice for potted culture anywhere, or outdoors culture in maritime California, desert areas and the South. When left in potted culture, keep indoors in a bright window, in the shady greenhouse or on the porch in the summer, then bring in for the winter. Drought tolerant, but also, among the Aloes we've grown, more tolerant of cold and "wet feet" than most. "Krantz" is the Afrikaner word meaning "cliff" or "rocky ledge," referring to the natural habitat. Plant prefers dry to mesic soil and full sun to part shade. Sow seed in regular greenhouse conditions. Probably ok to start them on a windowsill, although high temperatures and humidity do encourage germination. Planted in the right conditions, these seeds give high germ rates. Use a pot or a deep flat filled with Cactus mix. Sprinkle seed on surface and cover with 1/8 inch of sharp, coarse sand or grit. Lacking sand or grit, you can cover with cactus mix, or very small pea gravel. Tamp well and water once or maybe twice daily, keeping warm and somewhat shaded. A shaded bench in the greenhouse is ideal--we're looking for filtered light here, not heavy shade. Seedlings of Aloe arborescens make a very long first leaf--about 1.25 inches, before pushing out the second leaf, which appears stubby at first, and then elongates. Keep seedlings warm, somewhat shaded and water a bit more sparingly (once every three days), allowing the surface to dry out between waterings. Grow seedlings closely together for 3 months to a year, then individuate to pots. To plant (any) Aloe, first cover the hole in the bottom of the pot with a pot shard, put a layer of sand in the bottom of the pot (2 inches or so deep), then a 2 inch or so layer of compost or any kind of humusy potting soil will do, then finish off with more sand on top of the compost. Plant the roots of the aloe seedling down through these layers, and leave the succulent barely nestled down into the top layer of sand, tamping all around to hold the seedling firmly upright. Do not water after transplanting--leave the plants for a week or 2 without watering at all. The seedlings will send down roots at this time, roots that would be discouraged by the presence of too much moisture. Once the plants have rooted in, water once a week or so during the summer, but then more or less discontinue watering during the winter. Aloes do best in a shaded greenhouse or indoors on the windowsill with a northerly or easterly exposure. Aloes live on and on.
This plant may be grown outdoors in a suitable environment, but it is also recommended for indoor growing as a houseplant. Following, find some recommendations for growing this plant in indoor culture (an indoor windowsill, under a skylight, in a sunroom, but without auxiliary growlights):
Pot size: Aloes truly do best in undersized pots. Start with 4-inch pots and work up from there only as necessary to keep the plant from falling over when the cat jumps on the shelf.
Soil and potting up: As described above. Pumice may be substituted for the coarse, sharp sand and will work equally well.
Light requirement: moderate. "Arborescens" desires and withstands more sunlight than many aloes. They will appreciate an occasional sunning on the porch, and they will withstand full sun in outdoor plantings.
Watering requirement: Low to moderate. "Arborescens" desires and withstands more water than other aloes. Water once a week or so.
Potential toxicity to pests or young children: none
Setting outdoors: OK, but protect from frost. These will thrive outdoors in subtropics to tropics.
Vacations: Probably OK to leave unattended for a month or two.
Other recommendations for growing this plant indoors: If cutting leaves for medicinal use, use the largest (bottom) leaves and preserve the integrity of the newly emerging rosette. Propagation by repotting of the offshoots (pups), which sometimes occur on the stem, especially if wounded, and especially as the plant matures and forms a woody trunk.
Feel free to order this plant at any time, but please be aware that we SHIP PLANTS APRIL 1 to AUGUST1 AND SEPTEMBER1 to DEC 1 only. Orders received outside these months will be automatically backordered. Please order seeds separately from plants for easier shipping.
If you have chosen a PLANT* (marked with a *), shipping costs are as follows:
1 to 6 PLANTS* will ship for $14.90
7 to 8 PLANTS* will ship for $19.90 (The shipping may be more if you buy other things in addition to plants.)
For 9 or more PLANTS* or if ordering plants NOT marked with a *, we will contact you with a UPS shipping estimate.