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Aloes: How To Grow & Varieties

What you need to know about aloes plus a photo gallery of plants ID'd

About Aloes

There are dozens of species of Aloe, from tall trees to dwarf cultivars.

Aloes typically have juicy, triangular leaves that form starfish-like rosettes. Some are smooth, others toothed and prickled. Such spiky protrusions, like hardened wax, are seldom dangerous.

Flowering

Most of the 80+ aloe photos in the gallery below show the plants in gardens and in bloom. Aloes’ tall, vivid flowers are a significant reason to grow these succulents from South Africa. Aloes bloom mainly in winter, but there’s at least one variety in bloom at any time of the year.

The inflorescence (bloom spike) of an aloe consists of numerous tubular flowers that open from the base upward. All shades of red and orange predominate; yellow, cream and pink are less common.

Growing Conditions

Aloes, in general, need well-draining soil. They like regular water but are in danger of rot if overwatered.

Aloe mite (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Aloe mite on Aloe arborescens 'Variegata'

Pests & Problems

The plants are relatively pest-free, but aloe mite, which causes bumpy, cancerous growth, is a problem in some areas. Should signs of mite appear, don’t let it spread. Cut out the diseased tissue and bag it for the trash.

In the landscape

Most of the aloes shown here I found in Southern CA, but not all are readily available. For those most often used by landscape professionals, see Aloe Superstars: A Landscape Designer’s Favorites.

Aloe Photo Gallery

Aloes hybridize readily, which can make them tricky to identify. If you disagree with any of my IDs, kindly let me know. Thanks! -- Debra

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