Aloe (AH-loh) are loose rosettes of long, slender leaves lined with gentle teeth. They make fantastic living sculptures for hot, dry landscapes or miniature marvels for indoor growing. Look to Aloe for impressive bloom stalks and a wide variety of shapes, patterns, and colors that are sure to mesmerize.
- Form: Slow growers with a wide range of sizes, from 2.0" wide minis to 30.0' tall branching trees. They can grow as solitary plants, tall stacks of leaves, or dense clumps of offsets.
- Colors: A stunning variety of colors and patterns including robin's egg blue and fuchsia with variegation patterns or a mosaic of "freckles". Moderate stress from sun exposure, temperatures around 50F, or drought can bring out their brightest pigments.
- Foliage: Toothy spines along leaf edges give Aloe a fierce look but are gentle to the touch. Some varieties have textured leaves of raised spots or ridges.
- Flowers: Aloe can bloom every winter or spring with large, tubular flowers in coral tones that are a huge hit with hummingbirds. Each inflorescence holds many flowers and can last up to a month.
- Light: Grow in part to full sun to maintain colors and form. If growing indoors, place containers near sunny windows or under grow lights and move them outdoors in summer if possible.
- Soil: Good drainage is key, so opt for a gritty cactus/succulent mix from a garden center or make your own by mixing 1 part potting soil, 1 part coarse sand, and 1 part perlite or lava rocks. Fertilizer is not necessary, but 2-3 applications of diluted fertilizer in the winter growing season can accelerate growth.
- Water: Aloe are exceptionally drought tolerant and should never be left in standing water. Water the soil deeply then give plenty of time and airflow to fully dry out before repeating. Err on the side of under-watering and use pots with drainage holes.
- Hardiness: These soft succulents will not tolerate frost or heavy rain.
- Propagation: Remove offsets from the base of a mother plant and re-plant them in well-draining soil with plenty of sunlight to grow roots.
NOTES FROM THE NURSERY
There are over 500 species of Aloe native to Southern and Eastern Africa and many more cultivated hybrids. They are well adapted to life in arid, full sun habitats such as cliffside crevices. Simulate these conditions with bright light, rapid drainage, and deep but infrequent water. Fortunately, Aloe are very forgiving growers and are a great starting place for those new to succulents. For more information, explore these succulent resources: