The tiger aloe plant (Gonialoe variegata), also known by the colorful name partridge-breasted aloe, is native to South Africa and Namibia. Despite its limited native regions, it has become a popular houseplant in many parts of the world. It's an evergreen succulent, making it a very valuable specimen for growing indoors in cold regions.
With its thick, blade-shaped variegated leaves that appear to have a zig-zag pattern, it makes a dramatic statement in a container. This succulent doesn't have stems but consists of fleshy pointed leaves arising from a rosette-like base. The flowers arise on fleshy "bloom stalks" (also known as racemes) that grow up to 24 inches tall and have slightly jagged edges. The flowers are quite showy, with umbel flower heads bearing bell-shaped drooping flowers, in a range of hues from orange to pink.
When grown outside, the colorful umbrels of flowers will be attractive to various insects and pollinators, including ants, wasps, bees and beetles.
As with other aloe plants, the sap contained within the leaves of the tiger aloe has healing properties. It's especially helpful for sunburn and minor skin abrasions. Just cut a leaf from the plant, break it open and apply the sap to the affected area.
|Scientific Name||Gonialoe variegata|
|Common Name||Tiger aloe, partridge-breasted aloe|
|Mature Size||18 to 24 inches|
|Sun Exposure||Full to partial sun|
|Soil Type||Well drained, sandy loam|
|Soil pH||Slightly acidic (5.5 - 6.5)|
|Bloom Time||July to September|
|Flower Color||Orange, salmon, pink|
|Hardiness Zones||USDA 9b to11|
|Native Areas||Namibia, South Africa|
|Toxicity||May cause stomach upset if ingested|
Tiger Aloe Care
These easy-care succulents need very little attention as long as their basic temperature requirements stay consistent. While they are easily propagated from offshoots, this plant takes from three to seven years to reach maturity, so be patient as the full beauty of its bloom stalks will become apparent only when it's reached that adult stage.
Growing a tiger aloe is similar to growing any other aloe plant. They prefer warm weather and are suited to growing zones above 9b, but can also be grown indoors.
This plant blooms in summer in its native areas, but indoors you may find its bloom season begins in winter and lasts through spring.
In full sun, your tiger aloe may take on some reddish-brown coloring, adding to its vibrant beauty. But it is also happy in a partial sun setting. If the plant turns brownish-red quickly, give it some water as this can also be a sign of drought.
In its native habitats, tiger aloe plants flourish in rocky outcroppings. So they're not fussy at all about soil, except for requiring excellent drainage. A sandy, semi-dry loam mixture is perfect. Placing pebbles in the base of the container is a good method for ensuring drainage.
As with other succulents, which store moisture inside their fleshy leaves, the tiger aloe will benefit from occasional watering only when the soil becomes dry to the touch. At that point, water deeply.
An unglazed clay container will help regulate the moisture content. This mimics the rainfall that provides the plant's main source of water in its native habitats.
Temperature and Humidity
The tiger aloe plant will not thrive in temperatures below 50F. Consistent temperatures between 65-75F are ideal. It doesn't like to be wet or to have moist soil, so apart from watering as needed, no additional indoor moisture is required.
If you have your tiger aloe indoors, keep it away from your humidifier, kitchen or bathroom, and don't put it near other plant arrangements that have trays of water for added humidity.
In the summertime, cold zone gardeners can bring this plant outside and give it a place of pride in the garden, but it should be brought in when temperatures go below 50F for more than 24 hours.
Is Tiger Aloe Toxic?
In recent years aloe has been added to many nutritional products, but it's not recommended that you directly ingest this sap, and your pets shouldn't consume it either as it is toxic for them.
As your tiger aloe goes through the growing season, it may shed leaves or the leaves may shrivel and dry. Remove these by simply gently cutting them off. You should also remove any leaves that become damaged.
Propagating Tiger Aloe
Like many succulents, this one produces many offshoots (or "babies") which can be easily separated from the parent plant by gently pulling or cutting, and then propagated by placing in a potting medium where they will root quickly.