Aloe Plant Types – Growing Different Aloe Varieties

By: Becca Badgett, Co-author of How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden

Most of us know about the aloe vera medicine plant, possibly from childhood when it was usually located in a handy spot to treat minor burns and scrapes. Today, aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) has a wealth of uses. It is included in many cosmetic products. Juices of the plant are still used for burns but is also used to flush the system. It is known as a superfood. Here is a run-down of some of the more commonly grown varieties.

Common Aloe Varieties

There are many common varieties of aloe and some that are rare or difficult to find. Most are native to various parts of Africa and nearby areas and, as such, are drought and heat tolerant. The aloe vera plant has been around and in use for centuries. It is mentioned in the Bible. Aloe vera and its derivatives have currently reached an all-time high for both internal and external use. So it is no surprise then that many gardeners are now exploring different types of aloe.

Growing the following aloe vera relatives may be something you’d like to consider adding to your indoor or outdoor garden:

Sudan aloe (Aloe sinkatana) – The juice from this plant is used in much the same way as that of the aloe vera. This stemless, rosette shaped plant grows quickly and is one of the most valuable aloe vera relatives to landscapers, as it is said to flower often and produce long-lasting blooms. It readily offsets at the base.

Stone aloe (Aloe petricola) – This aloe grows to two feet (.61 m.) with impressive bi-colored blooms, making it twice as tall. Stone aloe is so named because it grows well and thrives in rocky areas. The plant blooms in mid-summer, just when fresh color is often needed in the landscape. Add several as a background in a rock garden or other partially sunny spot. Juices from Stone aloe are also used for burns and digestion.

Cape aloe (Aloe ferox) – This aloe vera relative is a source of bitter aloe, coming from a layer of the inner juices. Bitter aloe is an ingredient in laxatives, as it contains a powerful purgative. In the wild, this substance discourages predators. Aloe ferox also has a layer of juice similar to those in aloe vera and is used in cosmetics. Growing this variety provides a showy succulent in the landscape in zones 9-11.

Spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla) – The Spiral aloe plant is one of the most attractive of the species, with perfect spirals of pointed leaves forming the plant. If you own one of these, take special care to keep it healthy. It is rare and classified as an endangered species. Flowers are showy and may appear in spring on well-established plants.

Fan aloe (Aloe plicatilis) – So named because it has leaves in a unique and attractive fan shape, this aloe attracts birds and bees to the garden and is useful as a backdrop for other succulent plants. Aloe plicatilis is an endangered species and is protected from common uses.

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Read more about Aloe Vera

Learn the Varying Types of Aloe Vera Plants

The Aloe Vera plant belongs to the genus Aloe, a classification of succulents with over 500 species of flowering plants. Aloe Vera is by far the best-known of the Aloe plants. Aloe Vera gel has hundreds of medicinal and cosmetic uses, and the Aloe Vera plant adorns indoor and outdoor gardens all over the world.

There are several synonyms for Aloe Vera, including Aloe barbadensis, Aloe lanzae and Aloe indica. While there are variations on the Aloe vera plant, they all share the same basic traits. These slight variations on Aloe Vera can be propagated and planted in the same way.

Types of Aloe | 23 Best Aloe Varieties For Containers

From over 500 species from aloe genus, we’ve selected 23 types of aloe varieties that you can grow in containers, indoors or outdoors.

1. Sunset Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe dorotheae

Ultimate Height and Spread: Around 12 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Container Size: Small to Medium

Sunset aloe is an evergreen succulent variety that turns light green when grown in partial shade but terrific glossy red in full sun. The leaves develop white spikes along its edges. Greenish yellow flowers are generally seen in winter and spring.

2. Spiral Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe Polyphylla

Ultimate Height and Spread: Usually 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide

Container Size: Medium

Aloe polyphylla is a unique aloe variety that forms a rosette of bluish-green leaves. As the plant ages, it forms an alluring spiral pattern in either clockwise or anticlockwise direction. Also, it flowers sporadically, but once it does, it’s a sight to withhold.

3. Guido Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe ‘Guido’

Ultimate Height and Spread: 6 to 8 inches tall and wide

Container Size: Small

Guido aloe is an exquisite hybrid aloe variety with attractive green and white colored rosette-shaped patchy foliage. This mini aloe can live well in small decorative containers.

4. Carmine Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe ‘Carmine‘

Ultimate Height and Spread: Usually 8 to 10 inches tall and wide

Container Size: Small

This miniature hybrid variety can be an excellent addition to your indoor or outdoor garden. The leaves are striking dark orange at edges with toothed margins and go well with containers of contrasting colors.

5. Crosby’s Prolific

Botanical Name: Aloe ‘Crosby’s prolific’

Height and Spread: No more than 6 inches tall and 9 to 12 inches wide

Container Size: Small

Another impressive miniature aloe that forms the rosette of deep green foliage with a lot of teeth and speckled skin. If kept in sunlight, the leaves turn into the alluring reddish orange.

6. Lace Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe aristata

Height and Spread: 6 to 10 inches tall and wide

Container Size: Small to Medium

The distinct characteristic of this plant is that the leaves have raised white dots, which are somewhat spiny near the base. It becomes a beautiful houseplant and requires no care if kept in a warm spot that receives some sunlight.

7. Short Leaf Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe brevifolia

Ultimate Height and Spread: Around 6 to 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide

Container Size: Small to Medium

This rosette-forming succulent has short gray-green fleshy leaves in part sun, which turns into reddish pink in full sun. Grow it in a small decorative container alone, or in combination with other succulents.

8. Red Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe cameronii

Ultimate Height and Spread: 12 to 24 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide

Container Size: Medium to Large

This slow-growing aloe variety has low watering needs, and if you’ve got a spot where it can receive full sunlight, it’ll reward you with beautiful copper red foliage, the most attractive in all the aloe species.

9. Candelabra Aloe (Krantz Aloe)

Botanical Name: Aloe arborescens

Ultimate Height and Spread: 6 to 10 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide

Container Size: Large

One of the tallest aloe species. This shade tolerant shrub-like succulent also bears attractive flowers in the vibrant shade of red and orange.
*Not only that, some studies suggest that aloe arborescens is effective against cancer alongside chemotherapy. Check it out here!

10. Cape Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe Ferox

Ultimate Height and Spread: Can grow over 10 feet tall and 4 to 6 feet wide

Container Size: Large

Cape aloe, bitter aloe, and tap aloe are some of the common names this aloe goes with. This is another giant aloe variety that presents a great architectural show when grown outside in a frost-free climate. Majestic!
More than that, bitter aloe has great medicinal uses. Here is the research published on the p hysical and chemical characteristics of Aloe ferox.

11. Coral Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe Striata

Ultimate Height and Spread: 12 to 18 inches tall and 24 to 36 inches wide

Container Size: Medium

The pink shade on its appealing big broad leaves is the reason why this plant is known as “Coral Aloe.” Unlike other common aloe varieties, coral aloe is toothless and contains no spikes on leaf edges. It’s one of the best cold hardy aloes that grows well in a shaded and sunny location both. However, the true rosy pink color appears in full sun.

12. Tiger Tooth Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe juvenna

Ultimate Height and Spread: Around 12 inches tall and wide similarly

Container Size: Small to Large

Tiger tooth aloe is one of the most beautiful aloe varieties for containers. It’s a small clump-forming succulent that is native to Kenya, which means it prefers hot growing conditions. Grow it as a houseplant or outside in containers in a warm spot that receives some sun.

13. Spider Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe humilis

Ultimate Height and Spread: Around 6 inches tall and 6 to 8 inches wide

Container Size: Small

Also known as hedgehog aloe, this low growing variety has beautiful clusters of stemless rosettes growing closely. The leaves are small and covered with irregular tiny white spines. This lightly frost tolerant succulent also bears flowers in the shades of red, orange, and bright yellow.

14. Tiger Aloe

Botanical Name: Gonialoe variegata

Ultimate Height and Spread: Grows between 6 to 12 inches tall and 6 to 9 inches wide

Container Size: Small

One of the most beautiful aloe varieties to grow in containers. Tiger aloe has a distinctly small sword shape fat foliage adorned with amazingly white strips marked on green leaves.

15. Aloe Capitata

Botanical Name: Aloe Capitata var. quartziticola

Ultimate Height and Spread: Can grow up to 2-3 feet tall and wide similarly

Container Size: Medium

This stemless rosette-forming aloe variety has a union of showy fat leaves splashed with a vibrant bluish pink shade, which turns into the deep pink or light red in full sun. It has red margined edges that are adorned with sharp but small teeth. The biggest asset of this aloe species is its bell-shaped flowers of orange shade.

16. Aloe Vera

Botanical Name: Aloe Barbadensis

Ultimate Height and Spread: Can grow up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide

Container Size: Small to Medium

This aloe variety needs no introduction. It is available with so many names like aloe vera, true aloe, Indian aloe, Chinese aloe, and first aid plant. Not only it’s an ornamental plant, but it’s also one of the most valuable medicinal plants in the world.

17. Fan Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe plicatilis

Ultimate Height and Spread: 6-8 feet tall in a pot and up to 15 feet on the ground

Pot Size: Large

If you’re looking for a decorative statement plant for your garden or entryway, grow fan aloe. Growing fan aloe in a pot is not difficult, keep it in a large pot in a warm location that receives some sun. If you’re living in a cool region, shift the plant indoors for winter protection.

19. Aloe Descoingsii

Botanical Name: Aloe descoingsii

Ultimate Height and Spread: 3 inches tall and wide similarly

Container Size: Small

Aloe descoingsii is the smallest of all aloe species. The tiny rosettes of it only grow to about 2-3 inches long. The dark green leaves have magical white spots on them along with serrated white edges, coming out from the center as if they’re entwined together. Yellow to orange colored flowers appears on 6 inches tall racemes during spring to summer, making it more beautiful.

20. Soap Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe maculata

Ultimate Height and Spread: Grows up to 18 inches tall and 24 inches wide

Container Size: Small to medium size container

Grow this evergreen succulent perennial for the year-round show of foliage and flowers. It’s deep bluish-green foliage perks up perfectly in a part shade spot outdoors or indoors.

21. Somalian Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloe somaliensis

Ultimate Height and Spread: Grows up to 6 to 12 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide

Container Size: This slow-growing aloe can be grown in small pots

Somalian aloe is a beautiful ornamental aloe variety decorated with green and white textured foliage. It bears pink to red tubular flowers in summer.

22. Aloe Caesia

Botanical Name: Aloe x principis

Ultimate Height and Spread: 4 to 8 feet tall and 3 to 6 feet wide

Container Size: Medium to Large

It is a cross between Aloe ferox and Aloe arborescens and has kept somewhat improved characteristics of both varieties. It grows high but not as heavy as aloe ferox and also shows much orderly growth than Aloe arborescens.

23. Climbing Aloe

Botanical Name: Aloiampelos ciliaris

Ultimate Height and Spread: Doesn’t grow above 10 feet tall in pots

Container Size: Medium to Large

It’s a rare climbing variety of aloe. The woody stems and greatly recurved leaves help this plant to climb on nearby trees or any structural support. If there is no support in the vicinity, it shows a straggly growth. It also produces unique tubular-shaped flowers when exposed to direct sun, in the charming shade of red with creamy yellow tips.

Photo of Aloes (Aloe)→Spotted Aloe veras misidentified

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Aloe vera is just one of 500+ species of aloe and is quite often misidentified among sale plants. As a group the spotted aloes can be difficult to identify even with a flower, but Aloe vera is not one of them.

I have moved a few images already and am listing the remaining contributors who have submitted spotted plant pictures here.

Unless the plants pictured somehow grew up and lost their spots, I would recommend that the relevant photos be moved to the generic aloe listing until they can be better identified. Please let me know what you think.

There are a number of Aloe vera hybrids out there. Interestingly Aloe vera is not capable of growing true from seed (only from offsets) maybe due to thousands of years in cultivation. But it can definitely hybridize with other aloes. Long story short, the orange-flowered versions of the plant are probably hybrids.

The heirloom aspect of these plants which you describe looms large in their survival. Wherever there are aloes, there are people who use them medicinally. One thing I like to point out (especially to people who go harvesting aloe leaves randomly in the public garden here, where there are maybe 30 different kinds) is that there are actually a few poisonous aloes, and while you're not likely to find them in cultivation, it's better to stick to the plants you know.

I have one of the orange-flowered plants (smaller and clumpier than the standard yellow-flowered version) and I'm guessing it's a hybrid. It is definitely not sterile.

Detailed article on the subject here

I did not find the original but the archive seems to work.

Here's the situation: there are several aloes displayed under Aloe vera which are not the "true" Aloe vera, ie. they differ in several critical respects from the archetypal yellow-flowered species. Among those differences are floral features which are normally sufficient to define differences in species: the orange-flowered plants do not make ventricose flowers (ie. with a fat underbelly) and they make a flared opening that is not seen in the original. The racemes are shorter and less dense. These features are more consistent with a set of other aloes from the region, including and especially A. officinalis.

The CoL lists these plants as Aloe vera var. chinensis, as do older tags all over the place.

The latest systematic reference on aloes (Aloes: The Definitive Guide, 2011) is unequivocal in placing A. v.c. under officinalis, providing the history and reasons.

You can read the story in the link I posted above but the bottom line is that A.v.c. was apparently popular in China (but has no origins in China) and is noted for medicinal properties comparable to A. vera. Presumably that made it a "true" aloe to somebody. Unfortunately (same article linked above) the medicinal effects are not the same, either.

Now quick story about Aloe officinalis. This plant is quite old it was named for its medicinal effects in 1775. It is also an Arabian aloe and has also historically been subsumed as a variety of Aloe vera at various points in their collective history. However it is now regarded as its own species and has been found in the wild in Yemen, unlike Aloe vera. The floral differences noted above (and the lack of sterility) make this a much better match for A.v.c. (Interesting side note: there are yellow-flowered versions of officinalis, but those flowers differ from Aloe vera in the same ways the orange ones do. In other words, it's not so much the color, but the form which is distinctive.)

My preference with respect to the spotted aloes listed under Aloe vera in the database would be to move them to the generic Aloe listing, as I would not be comfortable assigning many of them a species designation without more info & flower pictures.

Thanks for your input. I will propose the images be moved, then.

Nine health benefits and medical uses of Aloe vera

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Aloe vera, sometimes described as a “wonder plant,” is a short-stemmed shrub. Aloe is a genus that contains more than 500 species of flowering succulent plants. Many Aloes occur naturally in North Africa.

The leaves of Aloe vera are succulent, erect, and form a dense rosette. Many uses are made of the gel obtained from the plant’s leaves.

Aloe vera has been the subject of much scientific study over the last few years, regarding several claimed therapeutic properties. In this article, we will look at some of these claims and investigate the research behind them.

Share on Pinterest Aloe vera gel has many medicinal properties and is often used in creams and lotions.

According to Kew Gardens, England’s royal botanical center of excellence, Aloe vera has been used for centuries and is currently more popular than ever.

It is cultivated worldwide, primarily as a crop for “Aloe gel,” which comes from the leaf.

Aloe vera is widely used today in:

  • Food – it is approved by the FDA as a flavoring.
  • Cosmetics.
  • Food supplements.
  • Herbal remedies.

The earliest record of a human use for Aloe vera comes from the Ebers Papyrus (an Egyptian medical record) from the16th century BC. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, in ancient Egypt, they called Aloe vera “that plant of immortality.” The authors added that the plant has been used therapeutically for many centuries in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico, and Japan.

The medicinal claims made about Aloe vera, as with many herbs and plants, are endless. Some are backed by rigorous scientific studies while others are not. This article focuses mainly on those that are backed by research.

1. Teeth and gums

A study published in General Dentistry reported that Aloe vera in tooth gels is as effective as toothpaste in fighting cavities.

The researchers compared the germ-fighting ability of an Aloe vera tooth gel with two popular toothpastes. They found that the gel was just as good, and in some cases even better than the commercial toothpastes at controlling cavity-causing oral bacteria.

The authors explain that Aloe latex contains anthraquinones, compounds that actively heal and reduce pain through natural anti-inflammatory effects.

The scientists warned that not all gels they analyzed contained the proper form of Aloe vera – they must contain the stabilized gel that exists in the center of the plant to be effective.

2. Constipation

Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs – Commission E – approved the use of Aloe vera for the treatment of constipation. Dosages of 50-200 milligrams of Aloe latex are commonly taken in liquid or capsule form once daily for up to 10 days.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 2002 that there is not enough data on the safety and efficacy of Aloe products so, in the U.S., they cannot be sold to treat constipation.

3. Diabetes-induced foot ulcers

A study carried out at the Sinhgad College of Pharmacy, India, and published in the International Wound Journal looked at Aloe’s ability to treat ulcers.

They reported that a “gel formed with carbopol 974p (1 percent) and Aloe vera promotes significant wound healing and closure in diabetic rats compared with the commercial product and provides a promising product to be used in diabetes-induced foot ulcers.”

4. Antioxidant and possible antimicrobial properties

Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, published a study in the journal Molecules.

The team set out to determine whether the methanol extract of leaf skins and flowers of Aloe vera might have beneficial effects on human health. The scientists focused on the extract’s possible antioxidant and antimycoplasmic activities.

Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that lack a cell wall they are unaffected by many common antibiotics. Antimycoplasmic substances destroy these bacteria.

They reported that both Aloe vera flower and leaf extracts had antioxidant properties, especially the leaf skin extract. The leaf skin extract also exhibited antimycoplasmic properties.

The authors concluded that “A. Vera extracts from leaf skin and flowers can be considered as good natural antioxidant sources.”

5. Protection from ultraviolet (UV) irradiation

Scientists at Kyung Hee University Global Campus, South Korea, wanted to determine whether baby Aloe shoot extract and adult Aloe shoot extract might have a protective effect on UVB-induced skin photoaging in other words, whether they could protect the skin from the aging effects of sunlight.

Baby Aloe shoot extract (BAE) comes from 1-month old shoots while adult Aloe shoot extract (AE) comes from 4-month old shoots.

In an article published in Phytotherapy Research, the authors concluded: “Our results suggest that BAE may potentially protect the skin from UVB-induced damage more than AE.”

6. Protection from skin damage after radiation therapy

A study carried out at the University of Naples, Italy, tested five different topical creams to see how effective they might be in protecting the skin of breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy. One of these creams contained Aloe.

They divided 100 patients into five groups of 20 each was prescribed a different topical treatment. They applied the creams twice daily, starting 15 days before radiation therapy treatment, and carried on for 1 month afterward.

During the 6-week period, the participants underwent weekly skin assessments.

In the journal Radiation Oncology, the scientists reported that the preventive use of the topical hydrating creams reduced the incidence of skin side effects in the women treated with radiation therapy for breast cancer, none performed significantly better.

“All moisturizing creams used in this study were equally valid in the treatment of skin damage induced by radiotherapy.”

7. Depression, learning, and memory – an animal experiment

A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience found that Aloe vera reduced depression and improved memory in mice.

After carrying out experiments on laboratory mice, they concluded: “Aloe vera enhances learning and memory, and also alleviates depression in mice.”

Further studies are needed to establish whether humans might also receive the same benefits.

8. Wounds from second-degree burns

A team of plastic surgeons compared Aloe vera gel to 1 percent silver sulphadiazine cream for the treatment of second-degree burn wounds.

They reported in the Journal of Pakistan Medical Association that the burn wounds among the patients treated with Aloe vera healed significantly quicker compared with those treated with 1 percent silver sulfadiazine (SSD).

The researchers added that those in the Aloe vera group experienced significantly more and earlier pain relief than those in the SSD group.

The authors wrote: “Thermal burns patients dressed with Aloe vera gel showed advantage compared to those dressed with SSD regarding early wound epithelialization, earlier pain relief, and cost-effectiveness.”

9. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

A randomized, double-blind human trial carried out at St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London, United Kingdom investigated Aloe and IBS. Their results were published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. Participants with IBS were given either Aloe vera or a placebo. After 3 months, there were no significant differences in symptoms of diarrhea.

“There was no evidence that AV [Aloe vera] benefits patients with IBS. However, we could not rule out the possibility that improvement occurred in patients with diarrhea or alternating IBS whilst taking AV. Further investigations are warranted in patients with diarrhea predominant IBS, in a less complex group of patients.”

Watch the video: How To Make Aloe Vera Leaves Grow Upward

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