Also Known As: Hedgehog Aloe, Spider Aloe, Drocodile Jaws
Category: Small to Medium Clumping Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11
OverviewAloe humilis is a wonderful, low growing heavily suckering succulent that forms crowded clusters and has very large blooms compared to the size of the plant.
DescriptionAloe humilis is a variable specie and this variation is due to the various growing conditions of its distribution area but remains small. The hedgehog aloe is stemless with rosettes up to 20 cm in diameter which form dense groups of 10 or more. There are 20-30 short, waxy leaves per rosette. Leaves are triangular, thick pale blue-green, with irregular bumps and soft spines that take the form of small white prickles and nodules on both sides of the leaf.
FloweringThe hedgehog aloe has very large blooms compared to the size of the plant. In late winter into spring Aloe humilis produces a simple inflorescence (unbranched) roughly 1 foot tall. The raceme is oblong with 20 or so bell shaped (pendulous), bright orange-scarlet colored flowers.
Origin / HistoryThe specie name 'humilis' means 'low growing' and refers to the plants growth habit. Aloe humilis comes from arid areas from Mosselbay in the east through the Little Karoo to Grahamstown in the west and north to Somerset East and Graaf-Reinett. It has gone under many different names including Aloe subtuberculata, Aloe suberecta, Aloe tuberculata, Aloe incurva, Aloe acuminata, Catevala humilis, Aloe perfoliata var. humilis and Aloe echinata and is similar to (when not in flower) and confused with the slightly larger and harder to grow Aloe longistyla.
Care / CultivationAloe humilis is an easy to grow, adaptable little aloe, requiring very little care. It will tolerate light shade but the plant looks its best when grown in full sun. Although it can withstand long periods of drought, these aloes will thrive and flower more profusely if watered occasionally. This Aloe is drought tolerant with little to no irrigation required and is best when sheltered from getting overly wet in winter. Propagate by division of larges clumps, putting the 'pups' in a tray of coarse river sand until they have rooted. Pick containers with drainage holes and use well-draining cactus and succulent soil with 50% to 70% mineral grit such as coarse sand, pumice, or perlite. Over-watering, poor drainage or too much shade can lead to attack by pests and diseases. Aloe humilis forms many offsets which can easily be removed placed in pots and rockeries.
Frost TendernessHardy to the low 20's F. It is interesting to note that plants that come from the Graaff-Reinet area are frost hardy, whereas those that grow closer to the coast are unable to tolerate any frost at all.
Use in the GardenIn mild climates it can be cultivated outdoors for use in landscaping. This is a useful little aloe for rocky, exposed areas of the garden and grows happily in small pockets of a rockery where you want some non-green color. Aloe humilis can be used as a container plant on a patio, but important to note that the soil must be well draining.
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