Tiger tooth aloe (Aloe juvenna) is a succulent known for its distinctive serrated leaf edges and dense foliage. Native to Kenya, this Aloe species grows well in warm, arid environments. Although rare in its natural habitat, it is commonly grown as a houseplant.
Its leaves are bright green with white spots and grow in a compact, rosette formation from a central stem. When it blooms, it sends up tall stems with tubular orange-coral flowers.
|Tiger Tooth Aloe
|Dwarf succulent, perennial
|Up to 12” tall, 24” wide
|USDA Hardiness Zones
|Offsets, cuttings, seed
|Arid to semi-arid, warm
|Well-draining, pH 5.5 – 6.5
|Full sun to partial shade
Tiger Tooth Aloe Care
Tiger tooth aloe requires at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Low light conditions may cause leggy, elongated growth as the plant reaches toward a light source. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the leaves to turn reddish-brown – this is a natural response and not necessarily a sign of poor health. To prevent tiger tooth aloe from turning brown and to maintain the bright green foliage, place the plant in bright indirect light rather than intense sun.
The soil should have a loose texture and good drainage. Mix two parts standard cactus soil with one part sand to create a well-draining substrate.
Tiger tooth aloe prefers infrequent but thorough watering. Ensure the soil has dried out before watering deeply. Choose a pot with drainage holes to avoid waterlogged conditions that can cause root rot. Tiger tooth aloe may slow its growth during particularly hot summers. In this instance of summer dormancy, water less frequently.
Tip: Like many succulents, tiger tooth aloe can be sensitive to the minerals found in tap water. Use distilled, filtered, or rainwater to avoid mineral buildup in the soil or root damage from chlorine.
Aloe juvenna is adapted to dry climates. Most typical indoor environments provide suitably low humidity for this plant, so additional measures shouldn’t be necessary. Simply ensure that the overall care needs are met, including proper watering and well-draining soil, to prevent issues related to excess moisture.
Regular fertilization is not necessary for successful growth. The succulent has a slow growth rate and is adapted to survive in nutrient-poor soils. Repotting in a fresh substrate every 2 to 3 years should be sufficient to meet the plant’s nutritional needs. However, if tiger tooth aloe exhibits stunted growth or signs of nutritional deficiency, apply a diluted liquid fertilizer 2 or 3 times over the year.
Its slow growth rate and compact habit mean that Aloe juvenna doesn’t require frequent pruning. However, occasional trimming can help to maintain the plant’s health and appearance. Cut off any old, dry, and damaged leaves as they appear. If the plant has flowered, remove any spent flower stalks by cutting them off at the base.
- Use a clean, sharp knife or pair of scissors. Sterilize tools with rubbing alcohol before and after pruning.
- Make clean cuts at a slight angle to prevent water from collecting on the open wound.
- Avoid pruning the central rosette where new leaves emerge.
- Place the plant in bright indirect light and avoid watering for a few days to allow the cut edge to callus and heal.
In its native habitat, tiger tooth aloe typically flowers in late spring or early summer. Flowering is rare when cultivated indoors and some tiger tooth aloe plants may not bloom at all. The correct care practices can help to create the right conditions to encourage flowering.
- Provide adequate sunlight.
- Maintain warm temperatures during the active growing season.
- Avoid extreme conditions such as temperature fluctuations or drafts.
- Use a diluted fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season.
Note: Aloe juvenna is often mistaken for the similar-looking Aloe zanzibarica (Zanzibar aloe) and Aloe squarrosa (coral aloe).
Tiger Tooth Aloe Propagation
Aloe juvenna can be propagated by offsets, cuttings, or division. Propagation by seed is also possible but less common. Propagate in the spring or early summer, ideally when repotting.
A healthy tiger tooth aloe plant will produce offsets (pups) at the base of the plant once it reaches maturity.
- Remove the plant from its pot.
- Select offsets that have their own root system.
- Use a clean, sharp knife to remove the pup from the parent plant. Keep as much of the offset’s root system intact as possible.
- Let the pup dry for a few days.
- Plant the offset into its own pot with a well-draining potting mix. Gently firm the soil around the pup.
- Water lightly.
- Place in bright indirect light. Pups should establish themselves within 4 to 10 weeks.
Propagating by stem cuttings is a good option for leggy or etiolated Aloe juvenna.
- Use a clean, sharp knife or sterilized pair of scissors to cut the stem into 3 to 4-inch sections.
- Remove leaves from the lower part of each section.
- Let the cuttings dry for a few days.
- Plant each cut section into its own pot with a well-draining potting mix.
- Water lightly.
- Place in bright indirect light. Stem cuttings should root within 1 to 3 months.
Tip: If a tiger tooth aloe is too tall, the stem can be cut into sections and regrown as multiple smaller plants.
Propagating by division is a good option for large tiger tooth aloe plants with multiple stems.
- Remove the plant from its pot.
- Gently pry apart the root ball to divide the parent plant into sections. Each section should have its own stem and root system.
- Plant each divided section into a well-draining substrate.
Repot Aloe juvenna in the spring every 2 to 3 years or when it has become rootbound. Choose a pot approximately 2 inches larger and plant with fresh substrate. Avoid direct sunlight or heavy watering for a couple of weeks after repotting to allow the plant to settle.
In USDA zones 9-11, it is possible to plant tiger tooth aloe directly in the garden and left outdoors all year. For climates that get colder than 30 °F, cultivate indoors or grow in a pot that can be brought inside during the colder months.
- Yellow or mushy leaves: Caused by overwatering and may be a sign of root rot. Let the soil dry out completely. In severe cases, remove the plant from its pot and allow the roots to dry. Replant in fresh substrate.
- Brown-tinged leaves: Caused by intense sun. Move to a location away from direct sunlight. Note that once sunburned, leaves will remain permanently reddish-brown. Sunburn does not affect the health of the plant.
- Dry, brown tips: Caused by underwatering. Adjust watering practice to include watering more deeply and more frequently. Take care to avoid overwatering.