Aloe Aristata— the Torch Plant

How about a succulent that produces juice used as bathing gel which results in a refreshing tonic effect? Well, that’s right! The Pondo people wash their bodies using Aloe aristata juice mixed with water because of it’s refreshing effect.

If you’ve been around the aloe genus block, you’re quite aware that their species have lots of uses and benefits. This is also true for the torch plant. In addition to being showy, evergreen and attractive, aloe aristata is also used for its wound healing prowess among other uses.

No need for over the counter healing gels and ointments when you have aloe gel to work with.

Just like the classic aloe vera, the torch plant is an easy care plant that will literally thrive on neglect. Whether you want to grow it indoors or outdoors, aloe aristata is one succulent that will add spice to your existing collection.

The Aloe Aristata Plant

Although most gardeners know it by its synonym, “Aloe aristata,” the correct name of the torch plant is Aristaloe aristata. It hails from the aloe genus though its appearance leans more on the haworthia genus. Just like the China aster plant, the torch plant is the only species in the genus Aristaloe.  Its common names include Guinea-fowl aloe, lace aloe, torch plant and torch aloe.

Native to the grasslands of Lesotho and South Africa, the torch plant is a hardy succulent well adapted to living in arid areas. It’s quite rare to find these plants in the wild due to regular harvesting by the locals. This African succulent is a popular living room companion in many households and gardens all over the world.

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Characteristics of the Torch Plant

Short and stemless, Aloe aristata is an attractive, slow growing succulent reaching only to a height of 12 inches. It’s an evergreen perennial growing in closely knit rosettes.

The leaves are fleshy, stubby and lance-shaped, randomly arrayed with white spots giving it a striking resemblance with its relatives in genus Haworthia. The torch plant leaves are triangular-like with a spiny tip and have a serrated margin covered with white teeth.

Still on the leaves, they are pale green when grown in shade and turn dark green when exposed to full sun. Aloe aristata stores water in its long, lanceolate leaves allowing it to cheat long periods of drought.

This plant of merit will bloom in late winter or summer producing a tall inflorescence bearing orange-red, cylindrical flowers that are nectar-rich thus attracting birds and bees. The flowers are scentless and have a short lifespan. Be that as it may, Aloe aristata will bloom every year without fail.

Its well-formed rosettes and conspicuous flowers makes it a perfect fit for containers or a complement to succulent gardens.

Aloe aristata succulent plant
@flowersbybia

How to Take Care of Aloe Aristata Succulents

This jungle succulent isn’t demanding when it comes to growing it. A brown thumb or a newbie gardener will find growing a torch plant extremely blissful. Careful though, it might collapse on you if denied ideal growing conditions.

Read on to find out how to grow healthy torch plants.

What is the ideal temperature for the torch plant?

Aloe aristata will do well in room temperature but won’t be very happy if exposed to freeze cold temperatures. If you’re living in a region that’s usually cold throughout the year, it’ll be wise to have your torch plant in a pot like these so that you can bring it indoors when winter strikes.

This succulent can grow in dry air and really doesn’t care about humidity levels. To encourage blooming, let it have a winter rest at a temperature not exceeding 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Light requirements for aloe aristata

The torch plant is an avid sun lover and would do well in bright sunlight for a minimum of four hours a day. You want to place it in a west or south facing window to receive adequate light if you’re growing it indoors.

When growing outdoors, plant it in a spot where it will receive enough sunlight every day. Avoid strong sun especially during summer as this might lead to stressing. Aloe aristata can do well in partial shades but be careful not to overdo it. Insufficient light will cause your plants to etiolate.

Soil and fertilizing aloe aristata

If you want your Aloe aristata to be around for a longer period, then be careful with the type of planting soil in use. Nothing leads succulents to an early grave than damp soil. Excessive moisture is a nightmare to any succulent as it leads to root and stem rot.

The solution?

Use commercial cacti potting mix. It’s specially formulated to emulate well-draining desert soils ensuring your plants don’t sit on wet soil.

You can get commercial cacti soil online without breaking the bank. If you don’t mind some dirt on your hands, then you can make your own cacti mix right at home. Simply mix garden soil with equal parts of sand or perlite and you’re good to go!

Like most succulents, the torch plant doesn’t necessarily need fertilizer to grow into a healthy plant. To accelerate growth and blooming, feed it every two weeks with a dilute liquid fertilizer during its growing season. Avoid feeding it during winter.

Watering the Torch Plant— Aloe Aristata

This South African survivor has been cheating drought spells for ages. Its thick, fleshy, and lanceolate leaves store water for use in tough times. With such an adaptation, it’s quite dangerous to feed it excess water as it doesn’t need it. This will lead to the water sitting in the soil for a long time –a disaster for the torch plant roots.

Depending on the environmental climate in your area, water your Aloe aristata 2 to 4 times in a month. Allow the soil to completely dry out in between watering. Cut back on watering during winter and other cool seasons.

The recommended way to water your torch plant is from the bottom. Watering from the top will get the tight rosette wet leading to leaf rot.

Aloe aristata succulent plant in ceramic planter
@theplantstudent

How to propagate the torch plant succulent

Getting more plants from Aloe Aristata is a painless process. Propagation is by pups or offsets which grow at the base attached to the mother plant by a stolon. This is best done in summer for optimum growth of the offsets.

To encourage offsets growth in your plant, avoid placing it in dark spaces as the torch plant will readily produce offsets when showered with adequate light.

To propagate by offsets, look for mature pups at the base of the plant. This can be evidenced by small roots or already formed leaf rosettes on the pups. Gently separate them from the mother plant using a sharp knife or scissors being careful not to injure the delicate roots.

Plant the offsets in well-draining soil, preferably commercial cacti mix. Slightly moisten the soil and don’t water it for two to three weeks until the pups start showing signs of growth. Set the pups in bright light away from direct sunlight for healthy, dark-green leaves formation.

Repotting aloe aristata succulent

Move the torch plant to pots one size bigger during spring. It’s recommended to use shallow pots while repotting. Avoid extra-large pots as the aristata plant will easily produce offsets when it’s root bound.

While repotting, avoid burying leaves close to the soil as this encourages plant rot. Only use cacti potting mix to repot your torch plant.

Aloe Aristata Pests & Common Problems

Aloe aristata succulent plant
@hayven.handmade

Pests

Apart from stubborn mealy bugs and scale insects, the torch plant doesn’t suffer much pest infestations. You can get rid of mealy bugs by washing them off with a jet of water or better still, using 70% isopropyl alcohol or neem oil to combat them. As for scale insects, you can physically remove them or use insecticides to control them.

Yellow and wilting leaves

If you notice the leaves of your aloe aristata turning yellow, then you are overwatering your plants. This is usually accompanied by stem rot and it’s an early grave for your plants. If you detect it early, stop watering immediately and inspect the plant while removing any rotten parts.

Wilting, on the other hand, is caused by plants not getting enough water during summer. Investigate early signs of wilting and continue watering your plant accordingly. Remember, succulents need more water during hot seasons due to increased transpiration.

Where to buy the torch plant succulent?

Aloe aristata is a popular succulent and is readily available in plant nurseries, home garden centers as well as grocery stores. If that doesn’t prove successful, then try online stores like SucculentBox, Etsy, Amazon and Mountain Crest Gardens.


If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Thanks for reading with us and happy planting!

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