Plant Sheet: Candelabra Aloe (Aloe arborescens)

* Image sources: All images used in this post are from the author

The Candelabra Aloe can be considered the less famous sister of the Aloe Vera plant, even though its looks are just as stunning and it has become more popular as a houseplant in recent years.

The Aloe arborescens, commonly called Krantz or Candelabra Aloe, catches the eye with its elegantly spiked, long leaves. Its natural habitat are rocky, sandy grounds in the Southern African region. As a succulent, it is best watered only sparingly and prefers sunny spots with bright indirect light.

Find out more about the Aloe arborescens care requirements and its superpowers in this post. Enjoy reading!

Origin and Natural Habitat of Aloe arborescens

Native to Southern Africa, this succulent naturally grows on rocky grounds all the way from sea level up to mountaineous regions. It has been widely used as an ornamental plant in gardens and public spaces due to its beautiful red flowers in winter, though this has also made it a minor environmental weed as it adapts well to varying conditions and spreads fast.

Its botanic name (“arborescens” meaning “tree-like”) already hints at its characteristic of forming a stem with the leaves growing in a loose rosette around it. This gives it a very particular look quite different to other types of Aloe, such as the Aloe Vera, that grow all leaves in a dense rosette at ground level. In its natural habitat, this plant can grow as tall as 2-3 m (6-8 ft) while as a houseplant, it reaches about 30-50 cm (< 1 ft).

The spiked, long leaves are of a green-blueish color. Depending on its light intake, the green color varies from a bright green to a darker green on the tips of the leaves. The various shades of green enhance its elegant and zen-like vibe. This plant will add an element of calm and stillness to your home wherever you put it.

The word “Aloe” derives from the Arabic word “Alua” which means bitter and refers to the bitter taste of the leaves’ gel. Although it might taste bitter, its gel is rich in nutrients and has countless beneficial uses, some of which have been discovered a long time ago – the first mentioning of the benefits of Aloe plants dates back to the Ebers Papyrus of Egypt (1500 BC).

Brighten Up Aloe’s Day: Light and Water Requirements

Like all Aloe plants, the Candelabra Aloe loves bright light but prefers bright indirect light. Harsh midday sun can burn its leaves, morning or afternoon sun are fine. Do not place it in a shady spot if possible. If it doesn’t get enough light, it will stagnate and stop growing.

As for watering, water it whenever the top inches of the soil are dry during the summer months. In winter, water it only sparingly as it is in a dormant phase. Generally, less water is better with this succulent as they have evolved in naturally arid regions.

Tip: Are you worried about overwatering your houseplants? Overwatering is indeed one of the most common care mistakes made but it is also easy to avoid. Read more about how to water your plants the right way including many helpful tips in my complete guide linked here!

An Aloe’s Guide to Happiness: Care Tips

This Aloe plant should not be exposed to frosty temperatures or too much harsh direct sunlight. A clear sign that it gets too cold or too hot for its leaves is when their tips turn yellow or even red as you can see in the images below. In spots with more indirect light, the leaves keep their saturated green-greyish color.

Also, with succulents like Aloe plants, it is key to provide the plant with appropriate drainage. This mimics its natural well-draining rocky habitat much better and it makes watering the plant correctly much easier for you as overwatering is less of an issue.

How do you create drainage in a pot? Find out in my post linked here why drainage in a plant pot is essential for all plants and how to create a good drainage system without much effort for your houseplants!

Apart from that, having an Aloe arborescens in your home is an easy-to-care-for addition to your indoor jungle and will bring you lots of joy looking at it!

How to Propagate Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens grow incredibly well and fast. Any mature plant produces lots of offshoots that pop out of the soil next to its main stem. Any of these offshoots can be used for propagation.

Gently cut them off the main stem and let them dry for 2-3 hours before repotting them in soil to grow roots (wait until the cut surface is dry and no more sap comes out). When cutting the offshoots, make sure you don’t cut them right below their still fragile leaves but rather a bit further down, hence providing them with a short stem to grow roots from (see image below).

The offshoots will root within 2-3 weeks which you will notice by the growth of young leaves in the middle of their rosettes. Use well-drained soil for this succulent, as it doesn’t like to sit in water.

Tip: If you’re keen to know what well-drained soil is and how to make it easily at home, check out my post linked here about how to mix good soil for your houseplants. It’s easy and will help your plants’ health!

Aloe Superpowers

There are many subspecies in the Aloe family but only a few have the medicinal properties that the family’s most famous representative, the Aloe Vera plant, is known for. However, the Aloe arborescens type has been found to share if not exceed the medicinal benefits of the Aloe Vera.

Many scientific studies point at the various medicinal uses the Candelabra Aloe is endowed with such as treatments of respiratory infections as well as of gastritis or as an anti-inflammatory remedy.

“Based on its well documented, longstanding traditional use and its excellent safety and tolerability, A. arborescens may be considered a valuable addition to the spectrum of herbal medicinal products for the treatment and prophylaxis of upper respiratory tract infections.”

Bastian et al. (2013 Feb;163(3-4):73-9)

The gel of its leaves contains hundreds of beneficial nutrients and is used in phytotherapy as well as in cosmetics. Among the most important medicinal effects are the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial: It can be used externally to calm and soothe inflamed or reddened tissue (such as light sunburns) as well as internally against infections.
  • Cicatrizing: Another external use is its application on new scars, helping it cicatrize faster and preventing the scarring of the skin.
  • Moisturizing: In cosmetics, it is mainly used as a moisturizer with protective ingredients beneficial to our skin.
  • Detoxicating the digestive system: It helps restore a balanced intestinal flora as well as flush out any residual toxins from the digestive tract. In phytotherapy, it is also used to treat gastritis, and abdominal spasms, as well as to stimulate the metabolism.

This houseplant comes with real superpowers and with a long history of its medicinal uses!

Interesting Fact: You might wonder why Aloe arborescens isn’t just as famous as Aloe vera given its superior benefits? This is mainly because the leaves of the Aloe arborescens are less juicy than those of the Aloe vera. Hence, Aloe vera with its higher yields of gel is more profitable for the industrial production.

More About Plant Care

What Do You Need For Plant Care?

There is not all that much you really need for keeping houseplants. Light, water, and soil are among a plant’s essentials to live a happy life but there are a few more essentials to consider such as drainage and fertilizer. Find out what your plant care kit shouldn’t be missing in my post about the 6 essentials for your plant care kit!

Is Tap Water Safe For Houseplants?

If you drink your own tap water, it is generally also safe for houseplants. The problematic ingredients of tap water are mainly chloride and fluoride, both of which are added to our tap water in varying amounts depending on where you live.

In my post on tap water for houseplants, I explain how you can find out the composition of your tap water and whether it is suitable for plants or not. Enjoy reading!

Recent Posts