South African Spiral Aloe

17 May

South African Spiral Aloe (Aloe polyphylla), small evergreen succulent, not generally floriferous, unique spiral arrangement of light green leaves, sun or shade, protect from frost, very drought tolerant and deer resistant, unique and rare.

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 arborescens (Tree Aloe)

Aloe arborescens
Forms a large, rounded shrub, to 10 ft. high and wide. Branching stems carry big clumps of gray-green, spiny-edged leaves. Vermillion (occasionally yellow) winter flowers are held above foliage in spiky clusters. Withstands salt spray. Tolerates shade. Foliage damaged at 27°F/–3°C, but plants have survived 17°F/–8°C. There is also a variegated form.

Aloe vera
Clustering rosettes of narrow, fleshy, stiffly upright leaves 1–2 ft. long. Yellow flowers in dense spike atop 3-ft. stalk, spring and summer. Favorite folk medicine plant used to treat burns, bites, inflammation, and a host of other ills. Among best aloes for Zones 12, 13. Survives without extra water but needs some to look good.

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