Origin and Habitat: Type locality: Malawi, near Blantyre
Description:Aloe cameronii is a suckering shrubby aloe with spectacular leaves that in bright sunlight turns crimson. It is one of the redder aloes available. It is a medium sized aloe that spreads slowly and in time will produce a nice clump 60-150 cm high, rarely to 250 cm when supported by surrounding vegetation. The blooms are truly beautiful bright orange-red, and even more attractive in contrast with the deep red foliage.
Stems: Numerous upright, branching from the base and above, ascending or the basal ones decumbent, all clothed in persistent leaf remains.
Rosettes: 30-60 cm across, with lax erect-spreading leaves.
Leaves: Curvaceous, narrow, 40–50 cm long, 5–7 cm wide near the base, lanceolate-attenuate, shiny skinned, uniformly green or occasionally with a few whitish spots especially on young leaves, red-tending, that turns deep coppery red in the dry season when grown in full sun and high heat. Margin with pungent deltoid minutely brown-tipped teeth 2–4 mm long and 8–15 mm apart. Also, the sap is purple when you break a leaf, so watch out for staining.
Inflorescence: 1 to 3 from each leaf rosette, erect to 1 m tall above the rosette; branches curving upwards and subtended by deltoid bracts about 5 mm long and 10 mm wide, with few sterile bracts below the racemes. Racemes cylindrical, 10-30 long and 5–8 cm in diameter, more or less densely flowered; bracts 2-3 long, 3-4 mm wide, ovate, pale brown; pedicels 3–8 mm long.
Flowers: Perianth bright glossy red with paler tips, to orange or occasionally creamy-yellow, 35–45 mm long, slightly curved, 5-7 mm in diameter across the ovary, widening slightly towards the mouth to 6–10 mm in diameter, cylindric; outer segments free to nearly halfway, with tips spreading. Stamens and stigma exserted 4-10 mm, yellow, with anthers reddish-orange.
Booming season: From late autumn through the winter, but often later in spring or summer in temperate climate with marked winter rest.
Cultivation and Propagation: This is one of the most attractive foliage aloes and also bears attractive flowers. It is easy to grow and adaptable, it suckers and can form dense groups. It can be grown in large containers. Sometimes used as stock for hybrids because of the reliable red color to the leaves. Many hybrids are available. All are drought-tolerant.
Growth: It grows slowly, but not agonizingly so being able to increase its width by 4-8 in (10-20 cm) per year under favourable conditions.
Soil: Always use a good quality, loamy sandy soil with plenty of drainage with chips at the bottom of containers.
Repotting: Use pot with good drainage.
Watering: Needs moderate to copious waterings in summer, but do not overwater, or not at all in the colder months of winter. Outdoors it can withstand long periods of drought, but they will thrive and flower more profusely if watered in the correct season. This aloe is very tolerant of drought, although the tips of the leaves may wither and curl during hot, dry periods. Plant in full sun in a well-drained soil and irrigate only occasionally to enhance the red coloration of the foliage. Supplemental watering will help keeping the leaves plump, green and juicy.
Fertilization: Feed it once or twice during the growing season with a fertilizer specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (poor in nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label.
Exposure: It need full sun to partial shade, but plants grown in partial shade usually look healthier and more succulent. It is however very hardy when grown in full sun with the minimum water.
Hardiness: When dry it can stand light frost but it is damaged in hard freezes, but recovers quickly. The leaf tips and blooms get damaged below 28°F (-2°C) (USDA zones 9b-10 ). The clumps melted in the freeze, often return from underground suckers. During the winter months, the plants should be grown cool to initiate flower development, about 41-50°F (5-10°C)
Pests & diseases: Incorrect watering, poor drainage or too much shade can lead to attack by pests and diseases.
Maintenance: Removal of old flower stalks; Divide the crowded clumps periodically. It grows much better outdoors in spring and summer.
Warning: It's teeth are not too sharp, but they can hurt your fingers if you are pruning off some dead leaves (get stiffer once they dry).
Gardening: This is a great plant for color, if you have a bright, sunny spot in an area that doesn't get too much water. It is one of the redder aloes available. In mild climates it can be cultivated outdoors for use in landscaping, it can be grown in large, rocky, well-drained soil in gardens in drier areas. It adapts well to a variety of soils and climates, but will grow best in regions with a climate close to that of its native deserts not too cold, and not too wet. It makes an excellent ground cover, grows best in a sunny position and makes a long lasting cut flower.
Traditional uses: This plant is suitable as a source of dye, the roots dye wool red-brown to purplish-red, depending on the mordant.
Propagation: By division of offshoots that develop around the outside of the main rosette in spring, the cuttings must be dried out for at least 1 week before planting in river sand. It is easily rooted in potting soil with warmth. It can also be propagated or by seed planted in autumn, in trays of coarse river sand, compost and soil. Sprinkle the seeds evenly on the surface and cover with a layer of small pebbles. The pebbles help the seedlings to stay upright and prevent damping off. Fresh seeds germinate quickly at 64°F (18°C). Keep seed tray in a dry corner and do not allow to dry out, but may damp off if overwatered. Transplant the seedlings after one year.
"Aloe cameronii" Text available under a CC-BY-SA Creative Commons Attribution License. www.llifle.com 14 Nov. 2005. 07 Mar 2021. </Encyclopedia/SUCCULENTS/Family/Aloaceae/25079/Aloe_cameronii>