Learn Sunset Aloe Growing and Care

Aloe Dorotheae (AL-oh, dor-uh-THEE-ay) is a succulent plant species from the Aloe plant genus in the family Asphodelaceae. 

It is named after Dr. Dorothea Christina van Huyssteen, the daughter of a South African collector of succulent plants DP van Huyssteen.

Sunset Aloe Dorotheae

The plant is native to Tanzania and has been classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its highly limited distribution in the wild.

In its native range, the aloe species is only found in two areas in the Eastern Arc Mountains. 

However, it is widely cultivated in many areas as an ornamental plant.

The colorful leaves of this aloe species have earned it the following common names:

  • Sunset aloe
  • Crimson aloe
  • Aloe harmsii

Sunset Aloe Dorotheae Care

Size & Growth

Growing up to 1′ feet tall and 1’ to 2’ feet wide, Aloe dorotheae is an evergreen clump-forming perennial characterized by its green succulent shiny leaves which turn bright orange-red under stressful conditions and during times of drought.

The leaves are curved, have some white spotting, and feature prominent, sharp teeth alongside the margins. 

They grow from decumbent and sprawling short stems forming clumps of rosettes, which can grow up to 20” inches across. 

The plant also produces offsets quite readily forming a big tight colony. 

The offsets are removed and planted separately.

Flowering and Fragrance

In mid to late-winter, the plant produces a long, unbranched flower spike, which rises well above the foliage and bears lots of small tubular blooms. 

The flower color is salmon-orange from the center and greenish-yellow at the tips of the petals. 

Since the flowers bloom in winter, they add color to otherwise dull and colorless gardens.

Light & Temperature

Aloe dorotheae grows best in full sun, though its leaves change color from green to red when exposed to strong and direct light. 

Like many other aloe species, crimson aloe can tolerate full summer sun once established. It also easily tolerates light shade.

Although the plant grows best in warm temperatures, it can survive temperatures down to 40° degrees Fahrenheit (4° C).

The plant is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 10a to 11b.

Watering and Feeding

Just like all succulent plants, the water needs of Aloe dorotheae are low. 

In fact, too much watering can harm the plant. 

Water occasionally and never let the aloe plant sit in water as it can lead to root rot and, when continued for prolonged periods of time, can even cause plant death.

The plant prefers a summer rainfall water regime. 

When grown as a houseplant, watering once a week is enough. 

However, you may need to water more frequently if the plant is exposed to the hot summer sun. 

Reduce watering to once every two to three weeks, or even once a month, in winter.

Like all other succulents, this aloe species is also fairly drought tolerant.

Feed sunset aloe once in the spring and summer seasons. 

Use a fertilizer designed for succulents, preferably the one meant for cacti.

Soil & Transplanting

The agave plant can tolerate a range of soil types, even poor soil, but cannot survive in soils with poor drainage. 

When growing this plant, make sure the soil is well-draining.

Transplant only when the plant outgrows its pot, tipping over it, and or has ceased growing. 

Early spring is the best time to transplant aloe dorotheae.

Grooming and Maintenance

Aloe Dorothy is a plant type which is easy-to-grow and forgiving. 

Just make sure to not let it sit in water and the succulent species will grow pretty well.

How To Propagate Aloe Dorotheae

Sunset aloe can either be grown from seeds or propagated by stem cuttings and plant division.

To grow from seeds:

  • Sow the seeds as soon as they get ripe, in sandy and well-draining soil. 
  • Keep them at a warm place and water enough to keep the soil consistently moist, but not wet. 
  • Provided the right conditions, seeds typically germinate within a few weeks.

To propagate from stem cuttings:

  • Cut below node roots for the best results. 
  • Let the cuttings dry out for a bit until a seal develops on the cut surface and then place them in a rooting medium. 
  • Keep the medium continuously moist until they develop roots and then return to normal succulent plant care.

Aloe Dorotheae Pest or Diseases

The Dorotheae aloe plant isn’t susceptible to many diseases and almost remains disease-free throughout its life. 

However, it is recommended to watch out for succulent mealybugs and scale insects. Treat with Neem oil for control.

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Too much watering, poor soil drainage, and too much shade can lead to a few problems, like root rot, and can make the plant more susceptible to diseases and pests.

The flowers of crimson aloe produce nectar and hence, attract bees and a number of birds, including hummingbirds and butterflies. 

The aloe species is also deer resistant.

Sunset Aloe Dorotheae Uses

As mentioned, the crimson aloe cactus is widely grown for ornamental purposes for its foliage color and winter bloom time. 

Since the plant grows at a fast rate, it is a perfect choice for groundcovers, beds, and borders. 

But, it also makes a great display in succulent themed gardens, rock gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and decorative containers.

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