Aloe Brevifolia [Al-oh, brev-ee-FOH-lee-uh] is a flowering Aloe plant species of the family Asphodelaceae.
An evergreen succulent perennial plant native to the Western Cape in South Africa. It is endangered in its natural habitat – the aloe species is listed as vulnerable on IUCN’s global red list.
The small, compact, blue-green aloe plant is also widely cultivated for ornamental purposes in desert gardens and rockeries, all over the world.
Aloe brevifolia is generally known with the following common names:
- Short-leaved aloe; brevifolia means short leaves.
- Crocodile plant
- Blue aloe
In Africa, the plant is generally referred to as Kleinaalwyn.
More Aloe Varieties of Interest:
- Aloe Aristata (Lace Aloe)
- Aloe Variegata (Partridge-breast aloe)
- Aloe polyphylla (Spiral Aloe)
- Aloe cameronii (Red Aloe)
Aloe Brevifolia Care
Size & Growth
Featuring short, fat, and toothed leaves, the aloe species grows at a slow rate and only grows up to 1’ to 2’ feet in height.
However, it produces quite a few suckers from the sides, which eventually develop into rosettes.
Due to this growing pattern, Aloe brevifolia short-leaved aloe can form large clumps.
The plant grows actively in the fall and spring but becomes dormant in winters and summers.
In the wild, the plant only grows in the dry clay soil of Ruens Shale Renosterveld, which is a highly endangered and rapidly disappearing vegetation type of the Cape Floristic Region in southeastern and southwestern South Africa.
Small populations of the plant are also seen growing on cliffs and rocky slopes, particularly near the coast.
Flowering and Fragrance
In November, Kleinaalwyn plant produces an inflorescence, which is relatively tall and bears red flowers in late spring.
Light & Temperature
The plant thrives in full sun and prefers a sunny location where it receives bright light for about 6 to 8 hours every day.
However, it will grow in partial shade.
When grown in adequate sunlight, the tips of its leaves get a beautiful red, yellow, or orange color, which makes a beautiful display.
The ideal temperature for aloe brevifolia is 70° to 80° degrees Fahrenheit (21° – 27° C).
The plant cannot tolerate extreme winters – it is only hardy to USDA hardiness zones 11.
Bring your crocodile plant indoors if the temperature drops below 20° degrees Fahrenheit (-7° C).
However, make sure to keep it in a place where it receives adequate sunlight; preferably in a south-facing window receiving the most amount of sunlight.
If the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight indoors, supplement it with a grow light.
Watering and Feeding
Aloe brevifolia is a succulent plant, which means there is an adequate amount of water stored in its leaves.
Therefore, the plant doesn’t need frequent watering and is somewhat drought tolerant.
Soak and dry method is the best way to water this aloe species.
This is a method of watering in which you water the plant generously, once, and then leave it until its soil dries out and remains so for a few days.
Well-draining soil is necessary because the plant should never have standing water, even after the episode of deep watering.
While blue aloe can handle some moisture, it doesn’t like soil which remains constantly damp and will not grow best in consistently moist soil.
Excessive overwatering can lead to yellow and mushy leaves.
Reduce the watering even further during the winter and summer, when the plant is not actively growing.
Too much water in these seasons can cause the plant to rot.
Fertilizing the plant isn’t necessary, but it can benefit from occasional feeding with a balanced liquid fertilizer during the seasons of active growth i.e. fall and spring.
Fertilize for a maximum of 2 to 3 times during the seasons of active growth.
Do not fertilize blue aloe in the winter and summer.
Soil & Transplanting
As mentioned above, the plant only grows in dry clay soil in its native range.
Therefore, it has to be cultivated in well-drained soil.
The ideal soil mixture for growing short-leaved aloe is one containing 1/3 sand, perlite, or pebbles.
Since this aloe species grows at a slow rate, you won’t need to re-pot it often.
However, when you do transplant the plant to a new location, make sure to not water it for a few days.
Also, when transplanting aloe brevifolia to a location where its sun exposure will be different, make sure to do it slowly so it can acclimatize to the new light exposure.
Grooming and Maintenance
Aloe brevifolia is a low-maintenance plant, overall.
However, it needs special care when it comes to watering and soil as it cannot survive in poorly-draining or waterlogged soil.
How To Propagate Short Leaved Brevifolia Aloe
The short-leaved aloe plant efficiently self-propagates through suckers.
It will propagate by dividing its branching suckers.
- All you will have to do is simply remove the suckers from the parent plant and replant in a new location.
- As mentioned above, do not water the newly planted offshoots for a few days, so the wounds can heal and the plant adjusts to the new soil.
- Propagate every few years to increase growth.
Unlike most succulents, blue aloe doesn’t propagate well through leaves.
Short Leaved Aloe Pest or Diseases
Short Leaved Blue aloe can get affected by mealybugs and scale insects.
These pests are prevented by ensuring to not overwater and overfertilize the plant.
Overwatering can cause the leaves to turn yellow and mushy and when left in standing water for too long, the plant will also develop rot.
If this happens, transfer the aloe species to a sandier soil and allow it to dry out completely before watering again.
When under-watered, the leaves of the crocodile plant start withering or get wrinkled.
If the soil is poorly drained or remains consistently moist, short-leaved aloe can develop root rot.
This aloe species is known to mildly toxic to both humans and pets.
Therefore, be careful if you have children and pets and keep the plant away from their reach.
The flowers of the aloe plant are attractive to birds, butterflies, and bees.
However, it is deer-resistant.
Aloe Brevifolia Uses
This dwarf aloe species are widely grown as an ornamental plant in rock gardens, desert gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and succulent gardens.
It also makes a decent small-scale groundcover and is also a good choice for beds and borders.