Aloe x spinosissima
Aloe x spinosissima, Spider Aloe, is a hybrid between Aloe arborescens, Tree Aloe or Krantz Aloe and Aloe humilis, the Hedgehog Aloe. From Aloe humilis it inherits a small compact size, the many knobbly spines which appear on both upper and lower leaf surfaces and its remarkable tendency to produce lots of offsets from the base. From the much larger Aloe arborescens it inherits larger foliage and a more dramatic presence. In combination it resembles a smaller Aloe arborescens with blunt spines on the foliage and forming a bushy clumping habit. For this reason it has often been called Aloe arborescens 'Dwarf', the stemless habit of Aloe humilis predominating over the arborescent habit of Aloe arborescens. In practice, it makes for a more manageable-sized plant particularly in cool climates like the UK where it does not survive outdoors exept in very favourable locations and thus makes for a wonderful houseplant, ideal in a terra-cotta container in a light sunny aspect or a conservatory.
It is cold-tolerant and will take occasional sub-zero temperatures but not substantial frost and is suitable for outdoor cultivation in the UK only in very favourable microclimates in urban areas and south-west coastal districts. It is fast-growing with a regime of full or partial sun and a very free-draining substrate with plenty of water in the growing season but an easing off of watering as Autumn approaches and stopping altogether from October through to about mid-February.
Once it reaches a good size, Aloe x spinoissima flowers regularly every year, sending up a very tall dramatic scape with gorgeous coral red/orange flowers on a large inflorescence. Flowering towards the end of the winter, the commencement of watering can usually be timed to the first appearance of the inflorescence starting to protrude from between the foliage.
|Geographical Origin||Horticultural hybrid: Type species are found in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe|
|Cultivation||Full sun. Sheltered aspect. Well-drained substrate. Water during summer, completely dry in winter. Dislikes winter wet. A well drained soil to which generous amounts of sand, grit and shingle have been mixed.|
|Eventual Height||1 m|
|Eventual Spread||1 m|
|Hardiness||Tolerant of light sub-zero temperatures but not frost hardy in most UK locations. Best indoors or bring container inside in Autumn. Can be tried outside in SW coastal areas or urban microclimates free from serious frost. Fleece if in cool glasshouse|
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