Aloe tongaensis

Aloe tongaensis is a medium-sized, slow-growing, upright tree succulent with heavy branching stems that can grow up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The plant bears thin, 18-inch long pale green rubbery leaves that often take on an orange hue during the winter months. The flowers, which are its primary distinguishing feature, grow on short, multi-branched inflorescences and are topped with short, almost capitate racemes of yellow-orange flowers, all facing up until opening at which time they drop downward. The plant is originally from Mozambique and is evergreen, with low water needs and requiring full sun exposure. It is hardy to around 22°F and blooms in late winter, with puffy orange/apricot flowers.

The plant was initially thought to be a form of the Aloe barberae, a tree aloe that grows in the summer rainfall eastern regions of southern Africa. However, it was identified by John Lavranos as the Mozambique form of Aloe barberae and later named Aloe tongaensis in 2010. The plant is also now known as Aloidendron tongaense.

To grow Aloe tongaensis, plant it in a well-drained soil and water and fertilize it in the warm months to speed up its growth. The plant can tolerate having water withheld, but it grows very slowly. The best time to propagate it is in the spring and summer using stem cuttings, which should be allowed to dry for a few days before planting. The plant is susceptible to aloe mites and is highly cold-sensitive, so care should be taken to protect it from frost.

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