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ALOE vera

Image of Aloe vera

James H. Schutte

Family

Aloaceae

Botanical Name

ALOE vera

Plant Common Name

Aloe Vera, Barbados Aloe

General Description

True aloe is an outstanding ornamental succulent that is cultivated outdoors, where winters are frost-free, and indoors as a potted plant for sunny exposures. It is believed to have originated from northwestern Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, but because of a long history of widespread human distribution its true nativity is unknown.

This clump forming succulent plant produces rigid upright rosettes of light green, thick, lance-like leaves edged with tiny yellow teeth. If broken, they emit a mucilaginous gel that is traditionally used as a topical skin treatment for rashes and burns. Rosettes produce offsets freely developing into large clumps over time.

Aloe vera blooms in spring forming tall, erect stems topped with spiky clusters of bright yellow tubular flowers that are highly attractive to hummingbirds. These are followed by oblong pods filled with seeds, but almost all commercially grown aloe plants are propagated by cuttings, not seeds. On the other hand, this species will cross pollinate with other nearby aloes producing hybrid volunteer seedlings with different flower colors.

Aloe, like all succulents, demands rapid sharp drainage to prevent root and foliar rot. When planted outdoors choose sloping surfaces and rock gardens with sandy gravelly soils. In pots it is best planted in containers designed with generous drain holes. These should be filled with porous potting soil designed for cacti and succulents. Beware of bottom saucers, which can restrict drainage. Aloe plants prefer a more pot bound condition and dry soil, particularly when grown indoors during the winter when light levels are at their lowest. When so pot bound the roots far outnumber any available growing medium, divide and replant.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Width

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring, Spring, Late Spring, Late Winter

  • Native To

    Northern Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Rosette/Stemless

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Lemon Yellow

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring) Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer) Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall) Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Olive, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter) Modifier

    SpottedMottled

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Herb / Vegetable, Houseplant, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall, Tropical, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes