Aloe sp. is just one of the 250 species of Aloe native to Africa and surrounding area. This plant is quite possibly a hybrid and has very tight rosettes spreading up to 6 inches (15 cm) across. Leaves are medium green, up to 3 inches (7.5 cm) long by 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide, with reddish tips. The edges of the leaves have white spines, with the underneath surface bearing a single row of spines and white tubercles. It is a trunk-forming species, with a slender trunk 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Plants in containers reach about 9 inches (22.5 cm) tall. It is very easy to grow.
Blooming: Our plants are have bloomed every spring in the greenhouse since we have been growing them (5 years). The branched inflorescence reaches up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall with reddish orange flowers that are 1.25 inches (3 cm) long. It is very showy when in bloom.
Culture: Aloe sp. need full sun to partial shade, with a well-drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 1 part loam to 2 parts coarse sand, with small gravel added to ensure good drainage. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry before watering again. Although the plants are very drought resistant, they respond to regular watering. We fertilize the plants twice a year, once in the spring when new growth starts and again in the fall. We use a balanced fertilizer diluted to 1/2 the strength recommended on the label. During the winter months, the plants are kept in the cool room, with nighttime temperatures allowed to drop to 48°F (9°C). During this period, plants are watered very little--only enough to keep the leaves from shriveling.
Propagation: Aloe sp. is easily propagated by cuttings or by the removal of offsets.
Aloe sp. was featured as Plant of the Week March 9-15, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.