Aloe capitata

Identifying Characteristics

Aloe capitata is an attractive succulent that forms a stemless or short-stemmed rosette of gray-green to blue-green leaves with sharp teeth along the margins. The leaves can take on pink to deep maroon hues in bright light. The inflorescence is up to 32 inches tall with 2 to 4 branches of 30 or more yellow to orange-yellow flowers densely arranged in terminal clusters. Flowers appear in late fall and winter, followed by cylindrical fruits with black seeds.

Aloe capitata var. quartziticola is a stemless aloe with a dense yet open rosette of gray-green fleshy leaves that can have bluish, pink, or even dark red hues with red margins and small sharp brown teeth. The plant can grow up to 3 feet tall with a 4-inch long spherical capitate racemes of orange buds on reddish pedicles that open to display orange-yellow narrow bell-shaped flowers.

Growing Advice

To grow and care for Aloe capitata in Southern California, plant it in well-drained soil and provide occasional to infrequent irrigation as the succulent is drought-tolerant. It grows best in full sun, but it can tolerate light shade during the hottest parts of the day. Fertilizing is not necessary but a fertilizer formulated for succulents can be used in spring and summer. Repotting is rarely necessary, but if needed, it should be done in the spring. Propagation is usually done by seed, as the plant rarely produces offsets. Sow seeds during the warm months for best results. Aloe capitata grows best at temperatures between 50 to 85°F and can withstand temperatures as low as 30°F. It is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10a to 11b.

Aloe capitata var. quartziticola is hardier than most Malagasy aloes and can withstand temperatures down to 25°F and has even withstood 20°F in some areas. This variety grows best on quartzite soils over the southern half of the Central Highlands of Madagascar at altitudes of 3,200 to 5,200 feet. It is a stunning plant that is very decorative, especially when in bloom.

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