The Tiger Tooth Aloe succulent is a beautiful, compact aloe plant. It has bright green triangular-shaped leaves with sharp-looking spines along their edges. Fortunately, the roar is worse than the bite with this particular succulent, and those nasty-looking spines are not sharp at all. They are, however, the source of the plant’s common name of Tiger Tooth Aloe.
With the scientific name of Aloe juvenna, the Tiger Tooth aloe is a popular low-maintenance, easy-care, drought-tolerant succulent that will thrive both indoors and outdoors, given the right care.
Originating from Kenya and Tanzania, its thick, plump, lime-green leaves have white spots and grow in a dense rosette around a center point. The leaves have soft, white teeth on the edge of the leaves.
While initially slow-growing, a Tiger Tooth Aloe can reach 12 inches (30cm) tall. It spreads via offshoots that grow as new stems. An individual tiger tooth aloe can spread to 24 inches (60cm) wide and it is considered a good groundcover succulent.
It blooms with orange coral blooms on long stems in summer, but it is not an easy bloomer and may not flower every year.
Aloe Juvenna vs Aloe Squarrosa
Tiger tooth aloe belongs to the Aloe succulent family, of which there are over 400 different species. Tiger Tooth Aloe, aloe juvenna, is frequently confused with Jemen Aloe, aloe squarrosa which hails from the Island of Socotra in Yemen. The two plants are very similar in appearance and have the same care needs, so it doesn’t matter too much which plant you have!
But the way to tell them apart is from the leaves. Tiger Tooth Aloe has short, straight, triangular-shaped leaves, while Jemen aloe has longer, leaves that curve backwards. You can see the difference in these photos of Aloe squarrosa. To add to the confusion, both these plants are often labelled as the Zanzibar Aloe. This name is gradually being removed. Suffice it to say, if you have purchased an aloe that looks like the photo above, it’s most likely a Tiger tooth aloe, aloe juvenna, as it the most common form in cultivation and the more likely variety to be found for sale.
Tiger Tooth Aloe Care
While we’ve already said that it is easy to care for, the Tiger Tooth Aloe does prefer the right levels of watering, sunlight and temperature to thrive. In this post, we will guide you through the best care for your Tiger Tooth Aloe plant.
Tiger tooth aloe care is not complex, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure your plant thrives. It is a slow-growing succulent and does not require much water. It makes an excellent houseplant, especially for beginners and time-poor plant owners who do not have much time to dedicate to their succulents.
In the wild, tiger tooth aloe is found in areas that experience full sun to partial shade. When growing this plant at home, it’s important to provide similar conditions.
Place your aloe in an area of your garden that gets at least six hours of sunlight each day. If you live in a hot climate, afternoon shade may be necessary to protect the plant from too much direct afternoon sun. If growing your tiger tooth aloe succulent inside, a sun-facing window is ideal.
When receiving plenty of light, the leaves can turn orange or red, particularly at the tips.
Tiger Tooth Aloe needs plenty of bright light to keep its compact shape. Aloe Juvenna can grow leggy and elongated in its search for more light if its environment is too dark.
Tiger Tooth Aloe Watering
These aloes are drought-tolerant and can tolerate long periods without water. However, they will grow best if you water them regularly during their growing season.
Like most succulents, Tiger Tooth prefers watering deeply but infrequently. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
If possible, water from the bottom by soaking the pot in a container of water. However, if your pot does not have drainage holes (or is planted in the ground outside) and you need to water from the top, make sure you do not get water on the leaves.
Aloe juvenna is a summer dormant, winter-growing plant which means you need to water it more frequently in winter during its growing season. In summer, when it is dormant, it is best not to water it at all. However, if you live in a very hot, dry climate, you may still need to water during summer. Check the leaves for signs of under or overwatering to decide if your plant needs more water.
When watering your plant, use room-temperature water. Cold water can shock the plant and cause the leaves to drop off.
It is susceptible to root rot, and you must be careful not to overwater it. Ensure it is planted in well-draining soil and, ideally, in a pot with drainage holes that allow any excess water to escape.
For more details on how to water your tiger tooth aloe and whether you should water it from the top or the bottom, see our post How To Water Indoor Succulents – A Complete Guide
Tiger tooth aloe is not cold-hardy. Its ideal temperature range is 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 – 25 degrees Celsius), although it can tolerate higher and lower temperatures.
If you live in an area with warm summers and mild winters, you can grow the tiger tooth aloe outdoors year-round. If you live in an area with cold winters, it’s best to plant your outdoor aloe in a pot so you can bring it inside once temperatures below freezing are predicted. If that is not possible, ensure you protect it with a frost cloth or glass enclosure.
It does not like humid conditions. If you live in a humid environment, ensure your plant has plenty of ventilation.
In Aloe Juvenna’s native environment, it grows in soils that are dry, and it prefers a well-aerated, well-draining soil that does not retain moisture and is not too rich in nutrients.
A succulent-specific soil should be fine. You could mix some coarse sand through the soil to increase the aeration and drainage abilities.
Aloes do not like to have their roots sitting in wet conditions, as this can lead to root rot, which is very damaging for the plant.
If you are growing your aloe plant outdoors, you may want to consider planting it in a raised bed or on a mound. This will help to ensure proper drainage.
Like most succulents, aloe juvenna can thrive in soils low in nutrients. If you do want to give your tiger tooth aloe an occasional boost with fertilizer, be sure to do so gently, as high nutrient levels can cause chemical-like burns to the plant’s roots.
Use a succulent-specific fertilizer will have the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium for this plant species. Follow the instructions on the packaging, and if in doubt, dilute the fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer well away from the plant’s leaves and stem.
You really shouldn’t need to prune your Tiger Tooth aloe other than to remove dead or dying leaves from the plant or to remove offsets for propagation (more on that below).
If you do choose the prune your plant, ensure you use sharp, sterile cutting tools to avoid any possible bacterial infection to the plant.
Once you have finished pruning, it is important to give the plant some time to recover before watering again. Avoid watering the plant for at least a week after pruning before resuming your normal watering schedule.
Toxicity To Pets
Like most aloes, Tiger Tooth Aloe is toxic to cats, dogs and other pets and you should keep it out of their reach.
Tiger tooth aloe is a slow-growing plant, particularly when younger, and shouldn’t need repotting often. If, however, you notice that it is becoming root bound (with tiny roots poking out of the pot’s drainage holes), or it’s growing too large for its pot, use a pot that is only 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) in diameter larger than it’s current pot and with a similar depth.
Once you have the pot and the soil ready, it is time to plant your succulent. Create a well in the center of the soil and place your succulent inside. Gently backfill around the aloe with the prepared soil, being careful not to damage the roots. Water the plant well after planting and then place it in an area that receives bright, indirect light.
Tiger tooth aloe is susceptible to root rot caused by sitting in damp soil. A pot with drainage holes is the best choice for this succulent.
Tiger Tooth Aloe Propagation
Tiger tooth aloes are best propagated from offsets or pups that grow from the bottom of the plant. These baby plantlets are perfect for growing separately as new plants. Tiger tooth aloe is very difficult to grow from seed at home.
How to propagate a Tiger Tooth Aloe from an offset:
- Cut the offset from the main plant as close to the stem as possible using a sharp, sterile knife or scissors. Make sure that the stem has a mini-rosette with at least two leaves.
- Allow the cut end of the stem to callous over for a few days.
- Plant the calloused end of the cut stem in well-draining soil and place it in a warm spot with bright, indirect sunlight.
- Keep the soil moist but not wet.
- Once the plant has rooted, water it less frequently.
You can also propagate an aloe juvenna using a stem cutting, although this main ruin the close rosette look of the top of the stem you cut. To propagate from a stem cutting, choose a healthy looking stem and cut the top 2 inches off using a sharp, sterile cutting tool. Follow the instructions above to complete the propagation.
With proper care, your offsets or cuttings will soon grow into a healthy and vibrant plant.
Pests And Diseases
Tiger Tooth Aloe is generally a hardy succulent plant and not prone to too many pests and diseases. But, it can still fall foul to the common succulent pests and diseases. Mealybugs and root rot are the most commonly seen problems with aloe juvenna.
Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of plants. They often appear as white, cottony masses on the leaves, stems, and undersides of the leaves. If you notice mealybugs on your Aloe juvenna, you can try removing them by wiping the affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or by using a gentle insecticidal spray.
Scale insects: Scale insects are small, oval-shaped pests that often attach themselves to the leaves and stems of plants, where they suck out the sap. They can appear as brown or tan bumps on the plant’s surface. You can remove scale insects manually by gently scraping them off or use an insecticidal soap or oil to control them.
Aphids: Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that can cluster on the leaves and stems of plants, causing damage by sucking sap and excreting a sticky substance called honeydew. If you notice aphids on your Aloe juvenna, you can spray them off with a strong stream of water or use insecticidal soap to get rid of them.
Leaf spots: Aloe juvenna can sometimes develop leaf spots, or discolored areas, caused by fungal or bacterial infections. To prevent leaf spots, avoid overhead watering and ensure good air circulation around the plant. Remove any infected leaves.
Root rot: Overwatering or poorly-draining soil can lead to root rot in Aloe juvenna. Root rot is caused by fungus that grow in damp conditions. To prevent root rot, ensure the soil is well-draining and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
Tiger Tooth Aloe Turning Brown
If your tiger tooth aloe is turning brown, the most common causes are sun damage or overwatering. But there are other possible reasons too. Here are the reasons why you tiger tooth aloe is turning brown:
Sunburn: If your plant is exposed to too much direct sunlight, the leaves may develop sunburn in the form of brown spots on the leaves. With continued overexposure to harsh sun, the leaves may start to turn completely brown and may eventually become crispy and dry.
Overwatering: Overwatering can lead to root rot, causing the leaves to turn brown. Ensure your plant is in a well-draining soil and allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Underwatering: If the upper leaves are turning brown at the tips, but the lower leaves are fine, this could be an early sign of underwatering.
Cold temperatures: Aloe juvenna is native to warmer climates and is sensitive to cold temperatures. Exposure to extreme cold or frost can cause the leaves to turn brown or black. Make sure to protect your plant from freezing temperatures by moving it indoors or providing adequate insulation during winter.
Pests or diseases: As mentioned earlier, certain pests or diseases, such as mealybugs, scale insects, or fungal infections, can cause browning of the leaves. Inspect the plant carefully to see if you notice any signs of pests or diseases.
Natural aging: Aloe plants naturally shed older leaves as they age, and these leaves may turn brown before falling off. If the browning occurs only on the oldest, lowest leaves while the rest of the plant appears healthy, it might be a natural part of its growth cycle.
Tiger Tooth Aloe Turning Yellow
The usual suspect for yellowing leaves is over-watering. If the leaves are turning yellow from the center of the plant, particularly the lower leaves and they are also a little mushy, it’s usually a sign of overwatering.
If you think your plant is getting too much water, try letting the soil dry out between watering.
Tiger Tooth Aloe Growing Too Tall Or Leggy
Tiger Tooth Aloe is a compact plant that typically only reaches heights of 12-18 inches (30-45 cm). Once it gets much taller than that, it can become top-heavy and start to fall over.
Your tiger tooth aloe can also grow too tall if it isn’t receiving enough bright light. It thrives is bright light and if light levels are too low, it can grow leggy and elongated and look stretched out. In cases of low light, the plant will strive to grow towards the light source to get more light and may end up becoming etiolated (long and leggy).
Tiger tooth aloe is a great succulent for beginner gardeners. It is easy to care for and adds interest to any garden with its unique tiger-tooth-spiked leaves.