Lace aloe (Aristaloe aristata), also known as the torch plant, is a compact, hardy succulent that was part of the Aloe genus and has recently undergone reclassification. The dark green, toothed, fleshy foliage is dotted with white bumps and forms in tight rosettes. If conditions are right, pollinator-friendly tubular orange-red flowers grow on mature plants during the summer. A lover of warm, dry, sunny conditions, the lace aloe is a popular houseplant or xeriscape addition.
|Common Name||Lace aloe, Torch plant|
|Botanical Name||Aristaloe aristata (syn. Aloe aristata)|
|Plant Type||Succulent, Perennial, Evergreen|
|Mature Size||Up to 8 in. tall and 6 in. wide|
|Sun Exposure||Full, Partial|
|Soil pH||Acid, Alkaline, Neutral|
|Hardiness Zones||7 - 10 (USDA)|
|Native Area||South Africa|
Lace Aloe Care
Here are the main care requirements for growing lace aloe:
- Thrives in bright, indirect light indoors and light afternoon shade in outdoor positions.
- A well-draining potting mix is a must.
- Allow potting mix to dry out between waterings. Root rot because of overwatering is a common killer.
- Cold but not frost-hardy, these plants need to be grown indoors unless you have temperate winters.
If you want dark green, healthy foliage, pick a spot with bright but indirect sunlight in your home. A window that gets plenty of filtered morning sunlight is perfect.
If you have the temperatures to grow your lace aloe outdoors, position the plant where it gets full sun or light afternoon shade in the hottest climate. Up to six hours of sun with some reprieve in the hottest part of the afternoon is ideal.
As you would expect of a succulent species, lace aloe prefers a well-drained potting mix. Select a succulent mix for convenience when growing indoors, or if you're using a standard potting mix, blend this with equal parts coarse sand and perlite.
The water-storing fleshy foliage of an established lace aloe offers some drought tolerance. But it benefits from regular but careful watering to see the fastest growth and healthiest foliage. Use the soak-and-dry method to prevent overwatering that leads to root rot. This involves a deep watering followed by allowing the potting mix to dry out fully before watering again.
Always water from the bottom. If water gets caught in the plant rosettes and is left to stand there, it can attract pests and lead to fungal diseases and foliage rot.
Unlike some aloe species which go dormant, this plant still needs watering during the winter season, just much more sparingly than in spring and summer.
Temperature and Humidity
Although lace aloe prefers warm, arid conditions, it's a surprisingly cold hardy succulent that can handle temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (and even short cold snaps slightly lower). If you experience temperatures lower than this, keeping the plant indoors or moving the container inside during the winter is best.
Indoors, this lover of dry conditions isn't going to be suited to a steamy bathroom or grouped with humidity-loving tropical houseplants.
These plants grow in poor soils in their native habitats, so fertilizer isn't a necessity. But, if you want to help encourage the fastest and healthiest foliage growth on your indoor lace aloe, feed a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half strength a couple of times during the spring and summer.
Propagating Lace Aloe
The easiest way to propagate your lace aloe is by replanting the offsets (pups). You can do this any time, providing the offsets are established with a few leaves. As with aloe plant propagation, this process is super easy. You'll need gloves (to prevent skin irritation), a trowel, a new pot with good draining holes, and fresh succulent potting mix handy.
Here's how to propagate your lace aloe:
- Use a trowel to gently disengage the pup's roots from the taproot connecting it to the mother plant.
- Carefully lay the pup flat and check it has healthy roots.
- If it doesn't have roots, allow any breaks in the base of the pup foliage to callus in a cool, dry place for a couple of days.
- Plant the pup in a pot, and ensure you fully cover the roots before backfilling the soil to just underneath where the leaves fan out (the base of the crown).
- Water the pup and position it in a window with bright but indirect light.
- Continue to water whenever the soil becomes fully dry. It can take a few months for the roots to establish fully.
Potting and Repotting Lace Aloe
Lace aloe is a relatively fast grower, but it isn't a large plant, so it shouldn't need regular repotting once it reaches maturity. It's usually time for a new pot when the plant shows signs of becoming rootbound (roots sprouting out the bottom of the pot or the soil not holding water as it used to) or when the current pot is becoming crowded with pups.
When it's time, gently move the mother plant and any pups out of the existing pot. You can put any pups in a container of their own. Select a pot a couple of inches wider and use a fresh potting mix rather than recycling the old stuff. Cover the roots fully and backfill until the soil line reaches just below the plant's crown (the foliage's base). Water thoroughly, then wait for the mix to dry out completely before rewatering.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Lace aloe plants are usually disease free and aren't plagued by many pests. But watch out for mealybugs, especially on indoor specimens. You'll usually spot these fuzzy white critters at the base of the plant, and their sticky secretions are havens for mold.
To get rid of mealybugs, sometimes spraying them with water and then wiping them away with a damp cloth can be enough. Be careful not to leave water lurking in the plant rosettes. A wipe with neem oil can keep the bugs from returning.
Common Problems With Lace Aloe
These plants are pretty easy to care for and usually give you warning signs that you're getting it wrong with light or watering levels. Look out for the following to help you revive your succulent lace aloe before it's too late.
If you're not offering enough bright, indirect light, your lace aloe can start to get leggy, spindly foliage as it stretches to reach available light (referred to as etiolation). Find a sunnier spot for your plant if you spot this.
If your plant is puckering, it's often time to up the watering schedule. Be careful not to go overboard, as soggy soil can result in mushy foliage and root rot.
Leaves Turning Brown
If you see those dark green leaves turning brown, you'll usually need to move your plant to a spot with less direct sun to avoid scorching. Sometimes it can also indicate your lace aloe isn't getting enough water.
Is lace aloe the same as aloe vera?
Previously, lace aloe (Aristaloe aristata) was part of the aloe genus, the same as aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller). However, it was recently reclassified, and the plant is now the only species within the Aristaloe genus. While lace aloe looks like species in the aloe genus and has similar care requirements, it is more closely related to succulent species in the Hawthoria genus.
How large do lace aloe grow?
This is a compact succulent, making it an ideal small apartment plant or addition to a sunny patio. The lace aloe usually doesn't reach much taller than 8 inches, with a similar spread.
Can I propagate my lace aloe from a leaf cutting?
While these plants are most commonly and successfully propagated from offsets (pups) that grow alongside the mother plant, it is possible to propagate lace aloe from a leaf cutting. Select a healthy leaf, make a clean and straight cutting at the base, and let the cutting callus before potting. Be patient and be aware it won't always be as successful as repotting offsets.
How much sun does my lace aloe need?
Grown outdoors, your lace aloe plant will appreciate a spot where it can enjoy plenty of morning sun along with some afternoon shade. Six hours of sun daily will be enough to help your lace aloe thrive. Indoors, a spot where it gets bright but indirect light will help avoid brown leaves as a result of leaf scorch.