Krantz Aloe (Aloe arborescens) is an eye-catcher, and not only in the winter when flaming red or orange flowers tower over the plant. It stands out just by its sheer size and sprawling habit, which is large for a flowering succulent. From a thick stem, multiple branches emerge from a stout woody trunk like a candelabra, which gave the plant one of its common names, candelabra aloe.
The foliage, arranged like rosettes and pointing downwards, is so dense that the trunk is not even visible. Birds, sunbirds, and hummingbirds flock to the flowers to get their nectar. Deer, however, show no interest, probably because its leaves have spikes and sharp edges.
Besides being grown as an ornamental, Aloe arborescens is also valued for its medicinal properties, and it is sometimes touted as being more effective than aloe vera.
The South African name of the plant, krantz aloe, comes from the preferred habitat of the plant—“krantz” is the Afrikaans word for a rocky ridge or a cliff. The plant is drought-tolerant, which makes it highly suitable for xeriscape landscaping.
|Botanical Name||Aloe arborescens|
|Common Name||Krantz aloe, Candelabra aloe, torch aloe, tree aloe, mountain bush aloe|
|Plant Type||Evergreen shrub|
|Mature Size||Six to nine ft height, six to nine ft width|
|Sun Exposure||Full sun|
|Soil Type||Sandy, loamy|
|Soil pH||5 to 6.5|
|Bloom Time||Late fall and early winter|
|Flower Color||Red to orange|
|Hardiness Zones||9b-11, USA|
|Native Area||Eastern and southern Africa|
Krantz Aloe (Aloe Arborescens) Care
Aloe arborescens does not require much care. The only extra step you can take if you want to encourage more upward, tree-like growth, is to prune the side shoots. Make sure to wear sturdy, long leather gloves for the job because krantz aloe has spines or sharp edges.
This is a plant for locations with direct, intense sunlight. The color of the leaves depends on the amount of sunlight the plant gets, ranging from dull green to yellow-green or bluish-green.
Excellent draining is crucial, which only light and sandy or medium loamy soil can provide. Just like in its native habitat, the plant can grow in nutritionally poor rocky soil.
It is also salt-tolerant and can be planted in coastal areas.
Krantz aloe is well adapted to dry soil and even drought but does not tolerate wet soil. Too much moisture, poor drainage, and standing water can lead to plant death.
When irrigating during the growing season, let the soil dry out between watering. In the winter, if there is no precipitation, water a couple of times enough. This should be just enough to keep the soil moist, reducing the amount of water every time. In the spring, if there is no rain, gradually restart watering.
Temperature and Humidity
Like many succulents, Aloe arborescens does not do well in high humidity.
It can tolerate moderate frost with temperatures down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aloe arborescens does not need much fertilizer. Depending on how rich your garden soil is, it might not need any at all.
Potted plants are different, as the nutrients wash out from frequent watering. Adding a liquid fertilizer about once every month is sufficient. Stop fertilizing during the winter.
Propagating Krantz Aloe
Rather than growing krantz aloe from seeds, which is lengthy and involved, the easiest and most successful propagation methods of aloe is from suckers or shoots called pups, or from stem or branch cuttings.
In the spring, remove the pups with as many intact roots as possible and transplant them to garden soil or containers.
Stem or branch cuttings are also removed in the spring. They need to be left to callous over for a day or two to callous over before transplanting them into succulent or cactus potting mix. The steps are pretty much the same as for propagating aloe vera.
Growing Aloe Arborescens in Containers
If your local climate is too cold for planting krantz aloe outdoors, you can also grow it in containers on a patio and bring it indoors for the winter. The best location is a southern or southwest-facing window where it gets plenty of bright, indirect light.
To accommodate the roots, which aren’t deep, use a wide container with holes that ensure good drainage because the plant absolutely dislikes wet feet. To ensure adequate drainage, plant it in commercial cactus or succulent mix rather than regular potting mix.
When grown in containers, the plants need to be watered more frequently than in garden soil. Be careful, however, not to overwater them, and do away with a saucer so the plant does not sit in excess water.
Although krantz aloe is a slow grower, it will eventually outgrow its pot and will need to be repotted.