Aloe Aristata— All About The Torch Aloe 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 aloe 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.

Aloe aristata succulent plant with blue and green hues
@ankigold

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.

Get some of our favorite ceramic planters here, the modern looking ones are some of the best!

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.

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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.

Succulent aloe aristata plant
@rootsandrope

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!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus (Succulent Tips)

What comes to mind when you think about an old lady? Especially when it has to do with a cactus? You may be trying to make the connection between a prickly plant and a sweet old soul. All it takes is one look at the Old Lady Cactus, especially when it is flowering, for it all to come together.

Keep on reading to find out our tips on taking care of the Old Lady Cactus.

Mammillaria Hahniana

The Old Lady Cactus also goes by the name Mammillaria Hahniana. The Mammillaria family has around 200 species of cacti, most being native to Mexico. The Old Lady Cactus is a part of the Cactaceae family. Being easy to take care of the Old Lady Cactus, it is a much-loved choice to add to any garden, both indoors and outdoors!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady and her flowers. @dr.rika_jikken.kun

Old Lady Cactus Characteristics

The Mammillaria Hahniana features stunning spherical stems that are covered in sharp white spines and white down. These spheres grow to be around 4 inches tall, and 5 inches wide, though over several years this can evolve to a height of up to 10 inches. 

This is one cactus that does not like being lonely, and often grows in groups, creating a collection of spheres. Then something happens in the spring and summer. What was simply a spiky looking ‘ball’ plant, begins to take on a new look. They flower with reddish purple flowers forming a crown at the top of the plants. These flowers look like a perfect headband, creating a halo effect on the cactus.

Want to add the Old Lady Cactus to your collection of succulents? Here is everything you need to know to ensure they thrive!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Beautiful old lady cactus plant in pot. @katelovesplants

Does the Old Lady Cactus Need Water?

There is a time for everything, and the same applies to watering your Old Lady Cactus. How do you know the right time though? Well, you need to make sure that the soil is quite dry when determining if you need to water your succulent. If you feel the soil and there is even a touch of moisture, do not put any water on your plant.

Once the soil feels totally dry to the touch, water the cactus. Make sure the water goes all the way through the soil. Your pot needs to have proper drainage holes– check out these little pots we found. The plant should not be left sitting in water as this could lead to root rot and eventually kill it, which is why drainage is a must.

Seasons affect watering as well. The cooler the weather, the less water that your plant will need. Spring and summer are the best time to water your plant. In winter, do not water your Old Lady Cactus. As you keep reading, you will see why.

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Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Top view of the old lady cactus plant. @plant.accordingly

What Soil is Required for the Old Lady Cactus?

Water retention can really affect the growth of your cacti, so your choice of soil is quite important. You need soil that will drain relatively fast, is porous, and it should be rich in nutrients as well. Look for a commercial cactus mix, like this one we swear by, for the very best results. A mixture that is sandy in texture would be the best option.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Pink flowers blooming on old lady cactus plant. @that_sunshinelife

Feed Your Old Lady Cactus with Fertilizer

Timing is everything when it comes to feeding your cacti with fertilizer. Cacti goes through growing seasons, with the spring and the summer being the time the cacti grow. In the winter, growth comes to a standstill.

Fertilizer should only be added during the growing season for one simple reason. Blooming flowers!! Too much fertilizer will inhibit the flowers blooming on your cactus. Less is more, and it is better to use a liquid fertilizer with this plant– try this one from Miracle- Gro. Try and make sure you use a fertilizer with a high potassium content as this will help the plant thrive. In the winter when the plant is dormant, save up on your feed – your cacti doesn’t need it.

Sometimes we will use fertilizer if we see that our succulents or cacti need a bit of help in order to get back on their roots.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus covered with white webbing. @toomanyplants

Propagating Your Old Lady Cactus

The best way to start your journey with an Old Lady Cactus is by propagating it, the right way. The Mammillaria Hahniana will thrive from offsets. These are the smaller spheres which are found at the base of the older plants. To properly propagate, here is what you can do.

  • Put on some thick gardening gloves.
  • Find the smallest of the offsets and gently remove it from the main plant.
  • Keep the offset on some dry tissue in a dry place.
  • Leave it there a few days to allow it to dry out.
  • Where you cut off the offset from the main plant, place some rooting hormone.
  • Take a small pot and add some cactus mix (a special soil that offers the right drainage for the plant)
  • Plant the offset in this pot.
  • Give it a little water each week, for around four weeks.

While you are propagating, remember to keep your cactus away from bright light, especially direct sunlight. You can expose it again once you have noted that it has taken root and continued to grow on its own.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus in terra-cotta planter. @wild_about_cactus

Achieve Optimal Health by Repotting your Old Lady Cactus

There is so much happening above the soil, with the perfect sphere and bright flowers being what you see. If you want to really tell how well your cacti is doing, you need to peek below the surface as well. Repotting at least once a year can help keep your plant alive and give it the room it needs to grow.

The warm season is the best time to repot. Take the plant gently out of the soil, though keep in mind that the soil needs to be dry first. When the plant is out of the pot, you will be able to identify the roots which have died, or which may be rotting. Cut these off and on these cuts, place a fungicide.

Then gently brush aside as much of the old soil as you can. In a new pot, place the cacti and add some potting soil. Some popular pots you can use are terra cotta planters, find some here for your home. Once done, leave the cacti in the pot, and after around a week, you can water it a little. The reason for not watering right after you repot is to avoid the roots getting rot. They need some time to settle into the fresh soil or cactus mix.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus with other cacti. @wild_about_cactus

Getting Your Mammillaria to Flower

The bright flowers of this cactus are what really give it character. So, when taking care of your Old Lady Cactus, you will want to do everything possible to get those flowers to emerge. You need to plan around the seasons.

Want to know how these lovely flowers are formed? The Old Lady Cactus features tubercles, and this is where the spines come from. The tubercles can expand and store water, and from the axils in the tubercles, flowers emerge. Remember the tips on watering? Make sure not to expose your cactus to too much water!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus blooming pink flowers. @cluelessmoose

The Correct Light Exposure for Old Lady Cacti

Like other cacti, this plant thrives when exposed to sunlight. However, too much sunlight, and the old lady cactus starts to look a little sad. Ideally, around four to six hours of direct sunlight each day is all that this plant needs. This means that it will do well if left outdoors. It should have a few taller plants around it to give it a little bit of shade and protection, especially in the hotter months.

Making sure that it is constantly exposed to even light through the day is the ideal solution if you are growing this plant indoors. Find a place that gets constant and consistent light and position the plant next to a window. If you live in a place where getting consistent sunlight is an issue, then it would be best to have a grow light close to your plants.

That grow light we linked above is part of our office that doesn’t have much light, it works wonders for the growth of those corner plants we have!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Cactus with white webbing. @yorufujin

Taking care of the Old Lady Cactus is simple, and its unique beauty makes it a favorite for anyone who appreciates succulents! This is one plant that will do well whether indoors or outdoors, and it needs only a little water to keep it going.

Want to take a chance at growing this stunning cactus? Just keep coming back and read over this article as many times as you need to. Also, check out other featured articles we have, like How to Tell if Your Cactus is Dying, and How to Propagate your Succulent Successfully for some extra tips!

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers or even Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth today!

Thank you so much for checking out this old lady, she’s so wonderful, isn’t she? Anyways, happy planting! 💚

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