This is one of the rarest members of the aloe genus. Its rarity is due to its choosiness on the soil it grows. It prefers rocky, sandy soils which are granite-derived. Namaqualand, South Africa, is its natural habitat.
|Asphodelaceae / Aloaceae
|Black Thorn Aloe, Small Mountain Aloe
|It grows in spring and summer.
|It prefers temperature from 10oC to 25oC (50oF – 77oC) in summer and it can withstand frost to -2oC (28oF)
|It may be toxic to humans and pets when ingested.
Aloe Melanacantha Physical Characteristics
This stemless aloe forms rosettes from leaves tight from the bottom. The leaves form rosettes, the longest of which usually reaches 25cm in height. These leaves are lance-shaped and can be up to 4 cm at the base while tapering towards the end. Leaves curve upwards and inwards, which gives them a somewhat rounded appearance. Also, the leaves are pretty flesh, indicating their water-storage role. Each leaf is lined with long, sharp spines whose color ranges from light yellow to black, depending on the age. The older the spine, the darker its color.
It blooms in winter producing tubular bright red flowers. These flowers grow from a flower stalk from the middle of the rosette. The red petals usually turn yellow when they open and later proceed to produce seeds. Its roots are shallow, enabling it to survive in areas with less water.
Aloe Melanacantha Care
It prefers rocky soil with an abundance of gravel. Ensure the soil has fine pumice, and add granite-based gravel if you can find it. Such gravel will mimic the plant’s ideal growing conditions. Water this aloe in spring and summer, but go easy on the watering in winter to enable it to go into dormancy. Watering in winter may lead to root rot since evaporation is low, and the plant isn’t absorbing the water fast enough.
You can keep this plant under direct sunlight. It has the constitution to withstand it. Also, you can grow it under a shade. Ensure it gets sufficient light even when you grow it under a shade.
Fertilizer isn’t necessary for this succulent to grow. You may add a phosphorus-based fertilizer to encourage vigorous growth once annually.
DO YOU KNOW? Caring (propagating, pruning/trimming, beheading, watering, …) is a set of skills that is widely applicable to succulents. Read the in-depth guide here >>Richard Miller – Succulent City
Aloe Melanacantha Growth
You can propagate the plant using seeds or leaf cuttings. Propagate it in spring and summer. They are the best times to grow it. Rarely will you need to prune or trim this plant but wear protective clothing if you do to protect from the spines. Repotting may be necessary when it outgrows a pot but is slow-growing.
Sooty Mold, aphids, white scales, and mealybugs may attack it. Keep it well-fed to protect it.
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