Aloe humilis, more commonly referred to as spider aloe is a specie of succulent native to southern Africa. The plant is virtually stemless and consists of a cluster of long fleshy green leaves. Compared to some other succulent’s spider aloe is rather small reaching a maximum height of just 12 cm. this makes it great for small containers and is one the reasons behind its popularity as an indoor plant.
Another interesting feature about this plant is its unique tubular flowers which bloom from late winter to spring. The flowers are a reddish-orange and grow at the ends of 14-inch spikes.
Caring for a Spider Aloe
As a succulent, these plants are low maintenance and don’t need much to grow successfully. Having said that there are still a few things to know about keeping these plants healthy and vibrant.
Spider aloe is best suited for life in hotter regions and can be grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zone 9a to 11b. while they can withstand temperatures as low as 20 F, they are not cold hardy. exposure to frosty conditions for an extended period is not good for them.
If you live in a region with harsh winters, consider growing the plant in a container and bring it inside as temperatures begin to fall.
Like any other species of aloe, this plant loves light and grows well in full to partial sun. Outdoors, they can be left under direct sunlight. Ideally, aloe requires at least 6 hours of sun each day to grow and bloom.
Indoors, choose a spot that receives a decent amount of direct sunlight throughout the day. Near a south facing window (if you live in the northern hemisphere) would be perfect.
If your home is dimly lit you may want t to consider purchasing a grow light to supplement your succulents needs. There is a wide variety of fluorescent grow lights available online, just do your research and find one that’s energy-efficient and works well with your plant.
When watering succulents just keep one thing in mind. Underwatering these plants is not an issue, overwatering them is.
These plants are designed to withstand a hot and dry climate with minimal rainfall. They store water in their fleshy leaves which they use to get by through most of the year. Their roots, on the other hand, are not the best at handling excessively wet soil. Overwatering your aloe will cause its roots to rot and may end up killing it.
The best watering technique for most succulents is the “soak and dry method”. This involves letting the soil completely dry between watering sessions. This can range anywhere between 2 weeks to a month, depending on the climate you growing them in as well as the time of year. Waterless frequently during the winter especially if you grow the plant outdoors.
The best way to gauge your plant’s water needs is to check the top 2 inches of soil for moisture.
Using the right kind of soil and watering in moderation go hand in hand when growing a succulent successfully, this is especially true for spider aloe.
These plants require a well-draining succulent mix with a neutral PH. There are loads of different cactus/ succulent mixes available to purchase online so finding the right kind shouldn’t be difficult. Without a succulent potting mix, excess water will store up near the plant’s roots and result in rot.
You can also make your own succulent mix using coarse sand and regular potting soil as well as a good drainage material such as perlite.
Generally, spider aloe plants don’t need fertilizer. If you do wish to supplement its nutritional needs, use a well -balanced fertilizer formulated specifically for succulents.
As for how frequently the plant should be fed, Once a year should be enough and that too during its active growing period.
Ppropagating spider aloe is super simple. It can be done through either one of the three methods given below.
1. Propagation through offsets
Begin by removing an offset off the base of the plant.be gentle so as not to damage the offset or the mother plant.
Next, place the offset base down in a bed of fresh succulent soil. Then, place the container at a spot where it receives indirect sunlight and wait for the plantlet to take root.
Once the offset has taken root, water the soil using the soak and dry method and you should see new growth with the next few weeks.
2. Propagation through stem cuttings
Cut off an inch of stem (preferably from a part that’s getting leggy) Using a sharp, sterilized blade. Remove any leaves, so that at least half of the stem is bare.
Leave the cutting out to dry for2-3 days.
Place the dried stem into a pot of well-draining succulent mix, and mist using water at least once a week.
Once new growth has emerged and the plant has grown a little in size. You can switch to a regular watering schedule.
Pests and Disease
Besides root rot as a result of overwatering, spider aloe is a plant resistant to most diseases. As for pests, the two most commonly known to bother these succulents are Mealybugs and aphids.
Mealybugs are hard to spot on a succulent because they love hiding in any small crevice they can find. Left untreated they can eat away at your plant and eventually kill it. A sign that your plant is infected can include misshaped new growth or a white cottony on the leaves which the bugs are known to produce. Fortunately, you can easily rid your succulent off these pests through some simple organic methods.
The first method involves spraying the plant with 70% isopropyl alcohol. You don’t have to worry about this causing har to your plant. alcohol evaporates fast and isn’t going to stay long enough to burn any leaves.
The second method you can opt for is using diluted neem oil. Neem oil messes with the bugs’ hormones, preventing them from reproducing and causing further damage to your plant.
Spider aloe is non-toxic and is safe to keep around pets and small children. The plant’s gel-like sap is known to have medicinal skin properties.