Native to South Africa, Aloe variegata is a unique succulent found in plant collections around the world. It sports green leaves with white stripes and edges, looking like an opposite version of the Blizzard Aloe.
Similar to most other aloes it thrives in warm, dry conditions and requires little care.
Aloe variegata is a hardy succulent and is a relative of most other aloe plants. It also goes by the names of Tiger aloe and Partridge-Breasted Tiger aloe.
In contrast to a lot of other aloe plants, Tiger aloes do not have spikes on their leaves. Additionally, their leaves are more thick and triangular shaped whereas most aloes have flat leaves.
Full grown Aloe variegata plants reach about 10-12 inches (25-30 centimeters) in height with new leaves forming from the center.
Their leaves reach lengths of up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) long if given the room to expand.
The plants true scientific name is Gonialoe variegata, which is slightly different from its common name.
Unlike most aloe species and varieties sold around the world, this plant is actually in the genus Gonialoe. This small group contains a total of 3 different species that are very similar in appearance.
Thankfully, the care of Aloe variegata is nearly identical to other true aloe plants and there are some varieties that have been crossbred between genuses.
Similar to most other succulents, aloe variegata does not require a lot of water. It thrives in slightly dry conditions and too much water is dangerous.
Firstly, water tiger aloe plants thoroughly when watered. This allows the plant to soak up the water it needs over a short period of time.
Also, make sure to water plants infrequently to prevent overwatering. Sitting in water can cause the roots of the plant to rot.
Specifically, water the plant when the top 1-2 inches (2.5-5) centimeters of the soil has become dry to the touch. As a general rule, watering aloe variegata 1-2 times per week is perfect.
If the temperature is too hot, or the plant is outside in a desert environment, give it more water. This helps to prevent them from drying out and excess water will evaporate.
Additionally, water less during the winter months. Succulents and cacti go through a dormant phase during the winter where growth slows and less water is needed.
During the winter tiger aloes may stop growing altogether and prepare for an active growing season starting in the spring.
Try to reduce watering to 2-3 times per month during the winter.
Aloe Variegata Lighting Requirements:
Just like most succulents, aloe variegata prefers a lot of light over the course of the day.
Six hours of direct sunlight per day is generally considered ideal, although these plants will tolerate a few more hours.
They also enjoy bright, indirect light. 12 hours of bright and indirect light per is enough for them to thrive.
If grown indoors, south-facing and western facing windows provide enough light for these aloes and other succulents.
Grow lights are another option for tiger aloes. They tend to respond well with high intensity bulbs and long hours.
Like other succulents tiger aloe prefers consistently warm temperatures all year round. Thankfully, a home environment is the perfect place for these plants.
The ideal temperature range is between 65°F and 75°F (18-24°C), but they can handle temperatures a little higher or lower.
Additionally, these plants are quite hardy and tolerate extreme temperatures for a short time. They survive in temperatures as high as 90°F (32°C) and as low as 50°F (10°C), but should be kept closer to 70°F (21°C).
Temperatures any higher may cause plants to dry out or burn, and they start to freeze under 50°F (10°C).
Above all, never keep aloe variegata in a drafty area. Drafts cause plants to dry out or become chilled, resulting in slow growth or even wilting.
For more information on growing zones and specifics, visit davesgarden.com.
Soil and Potting Requirements:
Tiger aloe prefers quick drying soil that does not hold large amounts of water. Interestingly, there are a variety of soils that work well for these succulents.
Here are some ideal soils for succulents in general:
- Cactus/Citrus potting soil
- Sand and potting soil mix
- Perlite and lava rock mix
Adding sand, perlite, or lava rock to potting soil helps to increase drainage and limit water retention. If you don’t have access to specific succulent or cactus potting soil, these mixes are great alternatives.
Soil Tips for Healthier Aloe:
Try adding a little organic matter in the form of leaves or fruit peels to the soil. This helps provide plants with extra nutrients in place of fertilizer, but it isn’t required. Avoid adding too much.
Also, consider adding a layer of rock or gravel to the top of the soil. This helps to drain water away from the base of the plant and into the roots to prevent rotting.
Gravel and rocks also help keep soil in place, preventing the formation of low spots and soil movement.
Aim for using soils with a neutral or slightly basic pH. Aloe plants prefer a slightly higher pH and may struggle in soils that are too acidic.
Fertilizing Aloe Variegata:
Aloe variegata does not require fertilizer in order to survive and thrive, but it helps boost growth and promote flower development.
For the best results use a cactus/succulent specific fertilizer. If unavailable, phosphorus heavy fertilizers diluted in water tend to work best.
Always follow the instructions of fertilizers to ensure the best outcome for plants.
Succulent/cactus food is another option that helps promote new growth. Plant foods come in liquid or pellet form and slowly release extra nutrients into the soil. Make sure to follow product instructions if they are used.
Fertilize aloe variegata starting in late winter or early spring to promote leaf development.
Additionally, fertilizing helps promote the development of offsets. These little plants can be removed from larger plants and grown by themselves over time.
Aloe Variegata Propagation:
There are two main methods of tiger aloe propagation, and both methods are simple and easy.
The first method involve carefully removing offsets (tiny plants) from older and larger plants.
Offsets are produced naturally by aloe plants and grow large enough to survive on their own after a few months.
Once they reach a few inches or centimeters tall, they will develop their own root systems.
Carefully cut away large offsets with a sharp and sterile cutting tool, allowing them to dry out for a few days in a cool and dry area. Plant them directly into soil and let the roots develop.
Keep the soil moist for a few weeks and the roots should take hold. Care for the offsets as though they are regular plants after a few weeks.
The second method of propagation is more difficult and less likely to be successful, but it still works with time and patients.
The second method is to slice of leaves and let them dry for a few days. Afterwards, plant them directly into soil and keep it moist for a few weeks.
Eventually, the leaves will develop their own roots and start to grow new leaves.
However, this method sometimes fails despite even the best conditions. Applying rooting hormone to the cut part of the leaf helps promote root development, though this is not guaranteed.
For the most successful propagation of new aloe variegata plants, use the offset separation method (the first method).