Native to the alti-montane grasslands of the Drakensberg and Malutis mountains in Lesotho where it grows up to an altitude of 7500 feet and protected in the Drakensberg Ukhahlamba National Park along Lesotho’s border with South Africa, Aloe aristata has become increasingly rare in the wild through harvesting. It is also found in the Karoo, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
Aloe aristata is an extremely tough aloe, hardy in most parts of the UK and capable of surviving extremes of both cold and wet during the bleakest winter months. I have grown it outdoors for many years and have yet to experience a winter that has succeeded in killing it although several tried very hard. I once left two large pots of Aloe aristata on my roof for three years - completely unattended, uncared for and totally neglected. They experienced no watering other than rain whenever it happened to fall. During the summer months they experienced severe drought and heat-wave and during the winter they experienced several feet of snow and severe frosts with temperatures down to -14 C. They also had all the winter rain to contend with. They survived - a little worse for wear - but very much alive. These aloes are hard to kill!
Left to their own devices they quickly form a large clump and are very effective in a large xerophytic landscape if planted en masse about two feet apart, so that as the clumps grow and spread they form an expansive globular carpet.
They flower freely in the summer and the soft-orange flowers are a wonderful addition to the arid garden.
The substrate should be very well-drained with lots of shingle and sharp sand with just a little potting mix or soil added.
|Synonyms||Aloe aristata var. leiophylla, Aloe aristata var. parvifolia, Aloe ellenbergeri, Aloe longiaristata, Aristaloe aristata, Tulista aristata|
|Geographical Origin||Lesotho, South Africa|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Dry. Well drained gritty soil.|
|Eventual Height||30 cm|
|Eventual Spread||Clumping habit: 40 cm-60 cm|
|Hardiness||Very hardy if given good drainage. Mine have survived -14 C.|
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