Aloe vanbalenii, or Van Balen’s Aloe, is a spectacular houseplant with a forgiving nature. But if growing it indoors is new to you, it can be hard to know where to start.
This guide breaks down the steps for caring for Van Balen’s Aloe and explains what’s included in this guide.
in this article:
About Aloe vanbalenii
Aloe vanbalenii, also known as the Van Balen’s Aloe and Octopus Aloe, is a succulent plant native to South Africa.
This aloe variety generally grows in a rosette form that sends out leaves from emerging from the center of the rosette-like the tentacles of an octopus. The leaves are evergreen and have pointed tips making this variety unique among other aloes.
Related Article: Different types of Aloe succulents
The unique leaves can grow up to twelve inches long, with an average of about eight inches.
The leaves bend, forming a channel or burrow water can pass through. They are mid-green to light green in color and are bordered with small, red spines.
|Botanical Name||Aloe vanbalenii|
|Common Name||Van Balen’s Aloe, Octopus Aloe|
|Light||Full sun, Partial Shade|
|Bloom season||Winter, Spring|
|Bloom color||Yellow, Orange|
|Soil||Well-Drained, Loamy, Sandy|
Aloe vanbalenii Care
Caring for an Octopus Aloe is easy as long as you know how to care for aloe plants. The plant is most at risk early on in its lifespan. The closer it reaches maturity, the more established it becomes, requiring less and less care.
Aloe vanbalenii does best in bright light but not direct sun. It can also tolerate low light conditions, although it will grow slower, and its leaves may be more yellowish than green.
Direct sunlight is not harmful unless very strong.
The best soil for Aloe vanbalenii is rich, sandy loam that drains well. If you don’t have this type of potting soil, it can be amended with perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage.
Aloe vanbalenii should be watered when the soil is dry about an inch below the surface. A good way to tell if your plant needs watering is by sticking your finger into the dirt; if it feels moist, then there’s no need for water at this time.
If you decide to water your aloe plant, ensure that the water drains out of its container quickly so that it doesn’t sit there, rotting the roots away.
Temperature and Humidity
Aloe vanbalenii is a tropical plant, so it prefers warm temperatures year-round. The ideal temperature range for this species is between 55 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 27 degrees Celsius).
Average room humidity conditions are acceptable for this Aloe, as it does not care either way.
The Octopus Aloe does not require fertilizer, but if you want to boost it, apply 1/2 teaspoon of balanced fertilizer once every couple of months during the growing season.
To keep the Octopus Aloe in shape, prune it when the plant is dormant. You can do this by removing any dead leaves or branches and any spent flowers that have wilted after their season has passed.
Potting and Repotting Van Balen’s Aloe
The Van Balen’s Aloe requires repotting every two to three years. After that, it should be moved into a larger pot with fresh soil and placed in a sunny area of your home. You can also set it outside during the summer months.
Don’t repot unless needed, as these plants don’t appreciate being moved around often.
How to Repot (Step-by-Step)
- Remove the plant from its current pot. You can turn it upside down and gently tap on the bottom. Use a trowel as necessary to loosen up the soil.
- Fill the new container with fresh soil and pack it down firmly.
- Set the Aloe in its new potting mix, positioning it so that the top of the Aloe’s roots is even with the soil’s surface.
- Add more soil if needed to cover up any exposed roots or fill any holes in the container.
- Water thoroughly to help settle the soil around the root ball.
Propagating Aloe vanbalenii by Offsets (Step-by-Step)
The Van Balen’s Aloe produces occasional offsets that emerge from the base of the parent plant. These are miniature versions of the parent plant and have virtually no difference. You can easily continue the culture and replant these offsets in a new pot. Here’s how:
- Remove the offset from its parent plant by gently pulling it away from the mother plant’s base.
- Carefully clean off any dirt or debris from the roots by washing them under a gentle stream of water.
- Allow the cut end to callus over and heal over the next few days.
- After the callus has formed, dig a hole in the same soil mix used by your parent plant and place the offset in it.
- Fill in around the offset with more soil mix until it is completely covered.
- Water thoroughly so that all of the loose soil is dampened and settled down over the surface of the container.
Flowering is usually limited to winter and spring. New flowers emerge during mid to late winter and wilt by the time spring is in full swing.
Red and orange tubular flowers are borne on an inflorescence that rises above the foliage. Nectar-seeking pollinators are often attracted to the display.
Aloe vanbalenii is non-toxic. It is not known to be harmful to humans or animals, but it is best if you take some basic precautions around this plant.
NOTE: This page is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. The toxicity of an ingested substance varies depending on the amount ingested, the animal’s weight, and its sensitivity to specific allergens. Contact your veterinarian or local animal poison control center immediately if you think your pet may have ingested a toxic substance.
Mealybugs can be a problem with Aloe vanbalenii. These are sap-sucking tiny insects that can get out of hand if not handled early. If you notice them, wash the plant with soapy water and use an insecticide to get rid of them.
Scale insects are another common problem in Aloe vanbalenii. These are tiny, immobile insects that look like a raised growth on the surface of the leaf. They can be easily removed by giving the plant a good washing with soapy water.
Aphids are pear-shaped insects that suck sap from the plant. You may see them on your Van Balen’s Aloe in large numbers, especially if they are growing in a warm environment without adequate air circulation. If you notice this happening, treat the affected areas with rubbing alcohol.
- Placing under harsh sunlight
- Using poorly drained potting mediums
- Fertilizing during dormancy