Aloe striatula (Hardy Aloe)

Aloe striatula, now named Aloiampelos striatula, is commonly known as Hardy Aloe or Striped-stemmed Aloe. It’s a large evergreen multibranched shrub with an upright form that slowly spreads into a rounded mass. 

Long, spiky, dark green succulent leaves spiral around its striped stem forming rosettes. In late spring, tall stems are topped with racemes of delightful yellow tubular flowers that look like a bunch of bananas. 

This impressive sculptural plant, native to the high mountains of South Africa, is very hardy and drought-tolerant.

Aloe striatula plant (Hardy Aloe, Striped-stemmed Aloe)

Quick Overview

TYPE

Type Shrub

HEIGHT & WIDTH

Aloe striatula height and width

BLOOM TIME

aloe striatula bloom time

SUNLIGHT

full sun

HARDINESS

hardiness (-12ºC / 10º F)

DROUGHT TOLERANCE

drought tolerance aprox 5 months

ORIGIN

Origin South Africa

Hardy Aloe Scientific name

  • Botanical name: Aloe striatula (AL-oh stry-AT-yoo-luh)
  • Family: Asphodelaceae (as-foh-del-AY-see-ee)
  • Common name: Hardy Aloe, Striped-stemmed Aloe
  • Synonyms: Aloiampelos striatula (the latest botanical classification)
NameMeaning
Aloe Derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” which means “shining bitter substance”
striatulaLatin word meaning “little stripes”, referring to the thin green stripes on the plant’s stem.

How to identify Aloe striatula

Aloe striatula plant (Hardy Aloe, Striped-stemmed Aloe)

Plant

Aloe striatula is a large evergreen multi-branched shrub with long fleshy dark green leaves that spiral along its striped stem.

Eventually, it will spread through offsets forming a rounded mass of semi-erect thick branches

During late spring and summer, tall unbranched stems emerge from the foliage carrying racemes of yellow tubular flowers.

The plant reaches up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) with its flower spikes and spreads to around 2 meters (6.5 feet) or more under favourable growing conditions.

Aloe striatula stem (Hardy Aloe, Striped-stemmed Aloe)

Stem

The sturdy stems have an upright to sprawling growth habit and branch out. Adorned with thin vertical stripes, they lend the plant its scientific name, “striatula”, and also its common name “, Stripped-stemmed Aloe”. As they age, the stems eventually become woody. 

The leaves elegantly spiral along the stem from the base to the apex. 

Emerging tall and unbranched, the flower stem bears a striking yellow flower head.

Aloe striatula leaf (Hardy Aloe, Striped-stemmed Aloe)

Leaf

The leaves are dark green, waxy and fleshy, storing water to help them tolerate drought periods. Although fleshy, they are quite flat and narrow, tapering to the tip.

The shape is lanceolate i,e, lance-shaped (they are wide at the base and taper to a point).

The margins are dotted with relatively spaced little white sharp teeth

The leaf length is around 25cm (10 in).

Aloe striatula flower (Hardy Aloe, Striped-stemmed Aloe)

Flower

The inflorescence is approximately 10-15 cm (4-6 in) tall and cylindrical to conical. It is a raceme of very tightly packed downfacing tubular lemon-yellow to yellow-orange flowers and, at first glance, resembles a cluster of bananas.

Each individual flower is tubular and approximately 3 – 4 cm (1 -1.5 in) long, with protruding orange stamens.

Bloom time is during late spring to early summer.

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Aloe striatula Habitat

Hardy Aloe is native to the rocky mountains of Lesotho in southwest Africa, where the soil is poor, the summers are hot and dry, and winters are very cold. It grows at altitudes up to 2000m (6500ft).

It is well adapted to grow in rocky, cold and dry regions. 

Aloe striatula Usage

Ornamental

Hardy Aloe is an impressive architectural plant with compact, rounded growth. Its waxy dark green leaves spiral elegantly on striped stems, resembling a living sculpture, while tall flower spikes bear yellow-orange tubular blooms adding vibrant colour. Overall, it’s a versatile and visually captivating addition to any garden.

It can be used in the landscape in the following ways:

  1. Border Plant: Plant it along garden borders or pathways to add texture and visual interest to the landscape.
  2. Rock Gardens:  Its compact growth habit and striking foliage make it an excellent choice for rock gardens, where it can thrive in well-draining soil among rocks and boulders
  3. Xeriscape: Due to its drought tolerance, it is ideal for xeriscaping projects in arid or dry climates.
  4. Mixed Succulent Gardens: Incorporate Aloe striatula into mixed succulent gardens alongside other drought-tolerant plants for a visually appealing and low-maintenance landscape.
  5. Focal Points: Whether single or in groups, its striking, exotic look makes it an ideal focal point in the landscape. It draws attention with its upright growth habit, striped stems, unique foliage, and impressive blooms. 
  6. Container Planting: It can be grown in containers, making it suitable for patios, balconies, or indoor spaces with plenty of sunlight.
  7. Pollinator Gardens: The flowers of Aloe striatula attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, making it a valuable addition to wildlife-friendly gardens.
  8. Seaside gardens: Its resistance to sea spray makes it a great choice for a coastal garden.

Biodiversity

The flowers of Hardy aloe are attractive to beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies and also to hummingbirds. This makes it an ideal plant to enhance the biodiversity of your garden.

Erosion Control

The extensive root system of Aloe striatula helps stabilize soil, making it useful for erosion control in certain landscapes, particularly in arid or semi-arid regions.

How to care for Aloe striatula

Cold exposure

As its name indicates, hardy aloe is a very hardy plant tolerant to frost and cold weather down to -12ºC (10ºF). However, this is possible only if the soil is well drained. Cold, soggy soil can be fatal to it

However, especially while the plant is not yet established, you should add a thick layer of mulch around the plant’s base to protect the roots from cold temperatures. It´s preferable to use gravel mulch because organic mulch will stay humid and can cause the plant to rot.

In very cold winters, the foliage might die back but will send up new growth when the temperatures rise and the soil warms up.

Sun exposure

Hardy aloe prefers full sun but can tolerate some light shade.

In extremely hot climates or areas with intense sunlight, it’s beneficial to shield plants from the harsh afternoon sun. Offering partial shade during the hottest part of the day can shield the plant from excessive heat and strong sunlight.

Soil

Hardy aloe prefers poor, well-drained soils and gritty, rocky soils. It dislikes soggy soil, which may lead to root rot and fungal diseases. Avoid planting it in wet areas.

If your area tends to become waterlogged, you may need to keep the entire root ball above ground level and fill in with a raised mound of sandy soil, sloping gradually away from the plant’s base.

It prefers neutral PH soil but can tolerate mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soils.

Avoid fertilizing the soil if you need the plant to remain robust and better equipped to handle extreme temperatures.

Watering

Hardy aloe is drought tolerant and can go for months without water once it is established (about 5 months of drought if the temperature is not too hot). 

It doesn´t need watering after being established because its leaves and stems are full of water. In fact, excessive moisture can lead to root rot. However, if there’s a long period without rain or very hot weather, you should water it, making sure to let the soil completely dry out before watering again.

Watering the young plant regularly during its first year after planting is essential. Depending on the soil and the temperatures, you may need to water it once a week, every two weeks or every three weeks.

When you water the plant, make sure to give it plenty of water, allowing the soil to get a good soak. This way, the water can sink deep into the soil, helping the roots grow deeper as well. With deep roots, the plant can withstand longer dry periods since the lower soil layers stay moist for a longer time.

To preserve the soil´s moisture, mulch should be added around the plant’s root area. Preferably, the mulch should be gravel because organic mulch can lead to leaf rot.

Pruning

  • Cut off the diseased or yellow leaves at any time of the year to maintain vigorous growth and a healthy appearance of the foliage.
  • After the flowering period, you may want to deadhead the flower spikes to give it a neater look and avoid self seeding.
  • Give it a hard prune in early Spring to encourage the growth of numerous new stems making it more bushy with a neat dome shape.

When to plant Aloe striatula

The best season to plant is typically in the spring or autumn, but it will depend on your climate. You should avoid planting during periods of extreme temperatures.

If you have mild weather where you live, it’s best to plant in the autumn to give it time to develop the roots during the cooler months before the arrival of the hot summer. In case of very cold winters, it’s better to wait until spring when the risk of frost has passed and the soil is warmer. That way, the plant can have a better chance to grow well and be healthy.

How to propagate Aloe striatula

The easiest way to propagate hardy aloe is through cuttings or division

Cuttings: in late summer

  1. Cut a stem about 30cm (1 ft) long
  2. Remove the lower leaves, leaving a few pairs of upper leaves intact. 
  3. Plant in a well-draining medium. Keep the medium lightly moist (but not wet) and provide indirect light. 
  4. The roots usually develop after about 4 to 6 weeks. Grow in a cold frame during the first winter.
  5. Plant in spring after the last frost or in autumn while the soil is still warm.

Check out this YouTube video explaining the process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul1YTvmZVQo

Division: Spring or autumn

In general, Aloe striatula produces plenty of offsets, which makes it easy to propagate by division. 

  1. Dig up the mother plant
  2. Separate the offsets from the mother plant, preferably leaving each offset with some roots of its own
  3. Plant them in a well-draining medium. Keep the medium lightly moist (never too wet, or the plant will rot).
  4. When the plants have started to grow, you can plant them out in the garden either in spring after the last frosts or in autumn while the soil is still warm

Check out this YouTube video explaining the process. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3PT6XuCqcU

An excellent online source for plant propagation techniques can be found in RHS propagation article.

Sources

Sources of information used for this article

Article from Jardin Sec

Article from Kew

Article from Promesse de fleures

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