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Aloe arborescens (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)
Aloe arborescens (photo courtesy of Kimberley Navabpour)

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Zone
Zones 5, 6, 15-17
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal
Toxicity
Latex beneath the skin is an irritant

Aloe polyphylla

Spiral Aloe

Cacti and succulents

ALOE

Primarily South African natives, the aloes range from 6-in. miniatures to trees; all form clumps of fleshy, pointed leaves and bear branched or unbranched clusters of orange, yellow, cream, or red flowers. Different species bloom every month; biggest show comes from midwinter through summer. Leaves may be green or gray green, often strikingly banded or streaked with contrasting colors.

Showy and easy to grow in well-drained soil in reasonably frost-free areas; need little water but can take more. Except as noted, give full sun in cooler climates, light shade in hotter regions. Where winters are too cold for all-year outdoor culture, grow in pots and shelter from frosts. Most kinds make outstanding container plants. Highly valued as ornamentals, in the ground or in pots.

Aloe polyphylla

This unusual plant forms a single, stemless rosette 1 ft. tall and 1–2 ft. wide, with overlapping rows of leaves that all spiral in the same direction to produce a pinwheel-like or “spinning” effect when viewed from above. Mature plants generate a branching, 2-ft.-tall stalk of nodding light red to salmon-pink blossoms in late spring (may fail to bloom some years). Prefers moist, slightly acidic soil and needs partial shade in hot areas. Withhold fertilizer in summer. Hardy to 10°F (–12°C).

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