Aloe perfoliata, also known as aloe mitriformis, is an Aloe species from southern Africa that belongs to the group of the Aloidae and the Aloaceae family. It is also known as Mitre Aloe or Rubble Aloe.
The Aloe perfoliata ‘aloe mitriformis ‘ plant has short, thorny grey-green stems (3cm in diameter) and succulent, perfoliate leaves that appear in rosettes. It flowers (white to green/yellow) in winter or spring.
The Aloe perfoliata grows well in a wide range of indoor conditions. Ensure that the soil is at least 1/2 inch below the surface of the pot to allow for proper drainage.
Good air circulation around the Aloe mitriformis is essential for good health, Aloe prefers a shady or partially shaded spot. Aloe perfoliata can be easily managed by regular watering and occasional feeding with Almond Leaves Extract.
The Mitre Aloe is very easy to propagate, cuttings of Aloe perfoliata can be taken during the warmer months of the year. Bottom watering should be used to get a successfully rooted cutting. Aloe perfoliata cuttings should be around 5cm long and at least 1-2 nodes are removed from each end of the cutting for rooting.
The best time to plant the Mitre Aloe is early spring. But you can plant the roots any time of the year, depending on your growing conditions.
Found in rocky areas or dry hillsides in South Africa and Lesotho, Aloe perfoliata grows to about 1m tall: it has fleshy, dark green leaves that are 4cm long and flat with a spiny margin: the flowers are white.
It will not flower until it has reached at least 2 meters in height, but you can force this process by placing your plant on a windowsill and withholding water for a few months.
How to propagate Aloe perfoliata ‘aloe mitriformis ‘
One of the easiest aloes to propagate is Aloe perfoliata. All one needs is a leaf or two from an adult plant and some patience. It takes anywhere from six to twelve weeks for new plants to form after they are ready to be separated.
Propagation from leaf cuttings (rhizome cuttings)
Aloe perfoliata can be grown from tip or base cuttings, but the easiest method of propagation by far is its rhizome division. This low-maintenance Aloe grows in clumps naturally and will give you many new plants by dividing its rhizome underground.
Depending on the season, you may want to wait until after a natural rain and/or when the soil is warm in spring or summer before attempting this method of propagation.
And keep in mind that it will take at least three years for new plants to reach flowering size after they are propagated.
Take a spade or shovel and dig around the outside of the root mass in late spring or early summer. You should see small shoots growing off the rhizomes that resemble feet, with their new leaves waiting to unfold.
Separate these from each other and plant them in a well-draining potting mix (such as cactus soil) that contains some sand. Soak the roots in a cup of water to get them started, but don’t plant too deep or overwater once they are potted up.
You can also plant a leaf or two from this adult Aloe perfoliata plant into a new pot of well-draining soil. This is less work than starting from scratch, but you won’t get as many plants from it.
Larger Aloe perfoliata can be grown by cutting the leaves in half and letting them heal over winter indoors before planting outdoors in spring (after any danger of frost has passed).
General care information of Aloe perfoliata ‘aloe mitriformis ‘
Aloe perfoliata is a wonderfully hardy succulent that will thrive in almost any type of light. It also prefers full sun, so even in the hottest summer weather you can put it on the back porch and it will be just fine.
Aloe mitriformis does not do well if moved around too much, so if you must move it from a sunny location to a shady one, do so slowly over the course of several days to help it adjust.
The mitre Aloe has rosettes of thick leathery leaves that will naturally touch the ground. This is very hard on the plant and should be corrected as soon as possible by separating the rosettes.
Aloe perfoliata is one of my favorite landscape plants because it is so hardy and easy to manage. It can handle high winds, salt spray, or even being forgotten all winter as long as someone doesn’t crush its leaves by stepping on them!
Aloe perfoliata can be successfully grown in either a well-drained potting mix or directly in the ground. If you are growing it in a container your choice of soil will be limited to what is available from your local plant store.
I tend to purchase my potting mix from a place that sells only bagged materials and not packaged mixes. This way I can be sure it is an open textured mix and not one with very organic material mixed in which tends to promote root rot through overwatering.
Aloe perfoliata can’t tolerate wet feet at all. The soil should be well-drained and in my opinion, needs to be a bit on the sandy side.
A little organic material in the form of tree leaves or bark mulch is good, but not essential. I tend to think that soil too rich will produce lots of lush foliage with very few flowers.
Aloe perfoliata is a drought-tolerant plant that will survive on rainfall alone without any added watering schedule.
The leaves are succulent in nature and the plant stores water in the leaves just as it would store water in cacti or yucca. When in need of water the leaves will naturally cup towards the ground to allow any available moisture to be stored for later use.
A well-grown aloe perfoliata will have very thick and fleshy leaves that are as full as possible without any air gaps. It feels like you could run your finger down the center of the leaves without any space existing at all.
The Mitre Aloe responds to the application of fertilizer (including Miracle-Gro, Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for African Violets, and Osmocote 20-10-5), but often with modest results if any.
I recommend mixing a more balanced slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote 15-30-15 in the recommended amounts, using a ratio of one part fertilizer to three parts soil.
Fertilizers should be applied once or twice during the growing season in spring and fall or as needed.
Aloe perfoliata can also benefit from liquid feeding 1:1 using a solution of fish emulsion and water weekly, diluted to at least a 10% solution.
Since the leaves of Aloe perfoliata tend to yellow with age, leaf-feeding is also a good idea for older plants and can be used alone or in combination with fertilization if needed.
A liquid plant food containing micronutrients (NPK) like Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food should be sprayed onto the leaves until they glisten. This is usually done once a month to twice per year (spring and fall are good times).
Avoid over-fertilizing since it can cause yellowing in leaves, but also make sure not to under-fertilize since the plant’s lack of strong growth indicates a need for more plant food.
Aloe perfoliata should be fed at least once monthly, but not too much in one week — during warm months of the year, fertilize every two weeks and during cooler periods of the year like spring and fall, once per month is probably enough fertilizer.
The temperature range of Aloe perfoliata is 15-26°C, with a minimum temperature tolerance of 12°C and an upper limit tolerance of 34 °C.
Humidity requirement of Aloe perfoliata is 60-70% relative humidity (RH), which is much lower than the requirement of most succulents.
Pruning and repotting
The Aloe perfoliata is a free-flowering species and requires little pruning. The plants may be pinched back by removing new growth tips to encourage branching of side shoots, which in turn will increase the number of flowers it produces.
These plants are relatively slow-growing when compared to other aloes so can remain potted in the same pot for up to 3 years and then gradually repotted into progressively larger pots.
When to repot
Repotting is best done during the growing season, but can be done at any time of year if dire circumstances warrant it. Just make sure you use a fast-draining soil mix and that you keep your aloe fully watered while it’s in repotting mode.
Aloes are heavy feeders, so don’t skimp on the fertilizer. Feed monthly with a balanced, slow-release formula or mix your own using time-released pellets (such as Osmocote) and water-soluble ingredients that contain micronutrients (such as Plant Nutrition Hydroponic Booster).
Aloe perfoliata sap is quite toxic if ingested. There are accounts of dogs and (especially) cats that have been poisoned by licking aloe gel off their fur after getting into an aloe-filled garden. If you keep pets, it wouldn’t hurt to cover your plant with a cage or keep it in an area that is off-limits to pets.
Pests and diseases
Aloe perfoliata is relatively pest and disease-free. It may be prone to root mealybugs in warm, dry climates if the soil around it dries out too much. Spider mites, scale, and whiteflies might also become a problem if you don’t keep your plant well fertilized.