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Plant Profile: Aloe (Aloe vera aka Aloe barbadensis)

Best known as aloe vera, this evergreen succulent perennial is a member of Asphodelaceae family that also includes daylily (Hemerocallis), red hot poker (Kniphofia), and foxtail lily (Eremurus)  Its origin is uncertain and it may be native to the Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Cape Verde Islands or  the Arabian Peninsula.  Plants grow 2-3′ high and form a stemless rosette of  glaucous gray green, lanceolate leaves  that are 1-2′ long   and have white to reddish teeth.  The yellow to orange-red flowers are 1-2″ long and appear on  slender branched stems 2-3′ long from late spring to early summer.  The leaves contain a mucilaginous sap that can be used to treat burns including sunburn and  is often included in body lotions and creams for its restorative and medicinal properties.  Plants are salt and drought tolerant and are useful in borders, succulent gardens, rock gardens, coastal gardens, herb gardens and containers.   The genus name, aloe, is the Arabic name for the plant.  The specific epithet, vera, is the Latin word meaning true, because it is the standard source for aloe vera, the pharmaceutical substance.

Type: Evergreen succulent perennial

Bloom: Spike-like clusters of tubular, yellow to orange-red, 1-2” long flowers from late spring to early summer

Foliage: Pale to gray-green, narrow, fleshy leaves containing mucilaginous sap.

Size: 8-36” H x 12-36” W (potted plants will be on the low end).

Light: Sun to light shade.

Soil: Average, medium moist, very well-drained; prefers a sandy soil.

Hardiness: Zones 9-11.

Care: Allow to dry out between waterings. Rarely needs repotting but when necessary repot in late winter or spring. Harvest the oldest (outer) leaves first.

Pests and Diseases: Susceptible to mealy bugs, scale, aphids, and spider mites.

Propagation: Seed, division of offsets, leaf cuttings

Companion Plants: Aeonium, sedum, agave

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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