14 Types of Aloe Plants

Aloe is a genus of over 500 different species of succulent plants. The most well-known species is aloe vera and is grown for its healing, antibacterial and medicinal properties. Many of the species have been cultivated as ornamental plants. 

Be it indoors or outdoors, there are numerous types of aloe plants to choose from that will never look out of place. With so many varieties available, it can be tricky to decide which is best for you. This article introduces you to some of my favorite aloes and some tips and tricks to keep them happy and healthy. 

Types of Aloe Plants

Aloe plants are identified by the appearance and growth habits of their foliage and also their size, leaf color and variegation. 

With a plethora of Aloes out there and to make your job of choosing less daunting, here’s a closer look at those characteristics and traits. 

Color Variations

Green tends to be the predominant color when it comes to plants, including aloes. However, there are several species of aloe that boast a variety of colors including red, purple and blue. 

Additionally, aloes such as the Lace Aloe and Soap Aloe exhibit their colors through various patterns such as stripes or gradients, giving them a very striking appearance. Such aloes make an excellent, statement ornamental.  

Shrub-like Aloes

Some aloes resemble shrubs in their growing habit through having loose and messy foliage. These types of aloes are common in outdoor environments and grow to moderate sizes.

Tree-like Aloes

Although less common, a handful of aloes can grow large enough to resemble trees. 

The Fan Aloe for example can grow to 10 feet in height and has a single trunk that branches into leafy claws at the top. 

These larger species need full sun and dry, arid conditions and are rarely found growing indoors. However, if you have a year-round subtropical climate, then they can make a fantastic statement piece in your landscape. 

Compact Aloes

Small and compact aloes are the most common and well-known types. They make great houseplants as they take up little room and there is a range of species to choose from, all of which look very different. 

Compact aloes tend to grow low to the ground and have a fairly narrow spread. Their foliage can either be sprawling and random such as Snake Aloe, or uniform and symmetrical such as the Sprial Aloe. 

Flowering Aloes

Aloes are not typically known for their flowers, but some species are capable of blooming.

Its mainly outdoors aloes that tend to flower and this is only after they are fully mature. Additionally, the resulting flowers are not delicate blooms but rather whimsical, conical buds. 

14 Varieties of Aloe Plants

Below are 14 different types of aloes. Some are large species that grow best outside in hot regions whilst others are smaller and can make excellent houseplants. 

When deciding on an aloe plant, be sure to consider its morphology and growing requirements. 

1. Aloe Vera

Scientific Name: Aloe barbadensis miller 

Aloe Vera
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 3 feet in height and width
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 8 to 11

Aloe vera is the most popular of all the aloe species. The gel produced by this plant has medicinal and healing properties. As such, extracts from this plant can be found almost everywhere including in drinks, medicines, cosmetics, skincare and even toilet tissue. 

This succulent has a non-uniform rosette of long, fleshy, triangular leaves. White spots cover the leaves and spikes run along the edges. It’s common to see ‘pups’ or off-shoots growing from the base of the plant that can then be easily propagated to create new plants.

Just like all Aloe plants, Aloe Vera needs a warm, dry environment, plenty of bright sunlight and very little water to thrive. They will also grow well in poor soil conditions and need little or no fertilizing at all.

If these conditions can be maintained, Aloe Vera will produce yellow non-showy flowers during the summer. 

As is case for all Aloes, they are unable to tolerate frost and are best grown indoors in cooler climates or brought indoors when temperatures drop. 

2. Torch Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe arborescens

Torch Aloe
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 10 feet in height and width
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

Torch aloe gets its name from its fiery red flowers that protrude from the plant on long stems, making the plant resemble a candelabra. These blooms are very similar to flowers of Kniphofia, commonly known as Red hot poker. 

This tall succulent type bears rosettes of green, sword-like leaves. When the sunlight is particularly intense, the leaf edges can turn reddish purple. 

Like aloe vera, torch aloe requires similar growing conditions and also has medicinal properties. Due to its large size, this plant is best grown outdoors and can thrive in coastal regions

3. Spiral Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe polyphylla

Spiral Aloe
Credit: Brewbooks by CC: 2.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 2 feet in height and width  
  • Toxicity: toxic to cats and dogs  
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 12

It is the rosette of neatly arranged short, pointed leaves that grow in a distinct spiral pattern that gives this aloe its name. The toothed leaves are green blue in color. 

When it blooms, the spiral aloe produces pale pink flowers that sit atop the end of long stalks. These blooms are highly attractive to bees. 

Due to its highly decorative nature and compact size, spiral aloe makes an excellent ornamental both indoors and outdoors. This plant cannot tolerate extreme heat or extreme cold so it is best placed away from direct sunlight and away from drafts. 

Additionally, avoid allowing water to collect between the foliage as this can caused leaves to soften and rot. 

4. Lace Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe aristata

Lace Aloe
Credit: David J. Stang by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 10 inches in height and width  
  • Toxicity: Toxic  
  • USDA Zones: 7 to 11

Lace aloe is a popular indoor species due to its pretty look and small size. Its rosette of dark green leaves grow slightly upwards, giving the plant a globular shape. The leaves are speckled with delicate white spots that protrude slightly from the surface. 

During the summer, tubular orange flowers may grow from the plant, though they are unscented and short lived. The compact nature of lace aloe makes it’s a perfect indoor succulent.

5. Uitenhage Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe africana

Uitenhage Aloe
Credit: Cultivar413 by CC: 2.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 10 feet in height and 4 feet in width   
  • Toxicity: Toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

Uitenhage aloe certainly makes a statement with its tentacle-like leaves and large, vibrant blooms. Elongated, green leaves branch out from the plant and the tips and teeth of the leaves are red. 

During spring and winter, vibrant orange and yellow blooms appear. The long, tubular flowers sit upright on stems that emerge from the centre of the aloe. 

This outdoor-grown variety of aloe will grow up to 10 feet in height if provided with the warm and dry climate it needs to thrive. 

6. Fan Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe africana

Fan Aloe
Credit: Esculapio by CC: 3.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 8 feet in height and 6 feet in width   
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 12

Fan aloe gets its name from the unique, fan-like arrangement of its leaves that differs from most other aloes. The long, flat, rounded leaves grow upwards and are green blue in color, aside from the tips that are red. 

From each leaf cluster, orange, tubular flowers emerge during spring and in it’s native homeland of South Africa. The blooms are rich in nectar and attract a variety of birds. 

Fan aloe is a large species and resembles a small tree due to its thick trunk. It makes a great outdoors statement plant in the right climate. 

7. Red Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe cameronii

Red Aloe
Credit: Ton Rulkens by CC: 2.0 
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 2 feet in height and 4 feet in width   
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 12

As its name suggests, red aloe boasts copper red foliage and the depth of red color is dependent on sunlight exposure and water availability. 

The leaves of Red Aloe have a tentacle-like appearance. They are triangular in shape with serrated edges that curl towards at the ends. 

Between fall and winter in its native home of Malawi and Zimbabwe, this plant produces vibrant orange, tubular flowers grow on long stems that protrude from the foliage. 

The fiery colors of red aloe makes it very bold ad eye-catching. This plant needs lots of sunlight and is tolerant to drought. 

8. Mountain Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe marlothii

 Mountain Aloe
Credit: JMK by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 10 feet in height and 6 feet in width   
  • Toxicity: Toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 12

Mountain aloe is impressively large in stature and visually striking too. Its dense rosette of green leaves curve upwards, and the tips and spines that cover the foliage are rust-red. As the leaves wither and die, they cover the trunk below. 

Unlike the blooms of most other aloes that project vertically, flowers of the mountain aloe grow on horizontal branches. The orange blooms somewhat resemble corn on the cob in appearance and attract a variety of nectar feeding birds. 

In the right climate, these aloes are a statement and talking piece. They look great in large containers or if used to create an urban garden. 

9. Sunset Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe dorotheae

Sunset Aloe
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 2 feet in height and width   
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

The sunset aloe is so called because of its fiery crimson foliage that makes it seem like the plant is on fire. The leaves emerge green and turn red as they become exposed to the sunlight, and the edges are covered with ‘white teeth’. 

Tubular red flowers that are green at the tips and protrude from stalks make an appearance during the winter. 

The compact size and striking color of sunset aloe make it a popular choice for rock gardens or indoor containers. They are drought resistant and can tolerate some cold but not freezing conditions. 

10. Snake Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe cryptopoda

Snake Aloe
Credit: David J. Stang by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 5 feet in height and width   
  • Toxicity: Mildly toxic  
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

Snake aloe gets its name from its sleek and smooth foliage that resembles the body of a snake. These are blue green in color and curve upwards.  

Unlike most other aloes where the leaf spikes are very prominent, the small brown teeth of the snake aloe can only be seen upon close inspection. 

Snake aloe is a fairly large plant, so it best suited to outdoor environments if your climate allows. This aloe is suited to arid conditions and is also frost resistant. 

11. Green Flowered Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe viridiflora

Green Flowered Aloe
Credit: Nick Helme by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 5 feet in height and width   
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic but hallucinogenic 
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

The green flowered aloe has hard, blade-like leaves that grow upright, with red teeth running along the margins. 

This aloe is named after the unusual blooms that it produces during the summer and fall in its native Africa when globular green flowers emerge on stalks above the foliage. 

This plant prefers hot, dry and rocky locations. Its best grown outdoors given it’s impressive size when fully mature.

12. Soap Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe maculata

Soap Aloe
Credit: Ryan Hodnett by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 2 feet in height and width   
  • Toxicity: Non-toxic leaves but toxic flower seeds
  • USDA Zones: 8 to 12

Soap aloe is so-called because the gel inside the leaves can form a soapy lather when mixed with water. As such, this plant can be used as a natural soap. 

This plant has broad, triangular leaves that are covered in white speckles and serrated edges. The foliage is usually green towards the base and become red near the tips. 

Vibrant, tubular orange flowers emerge during the spring and attract hummingbirds and bees. Soap aloe is tolerant to salt and drought, making it an excellent choice for rock gardens. 

13. Tiger Tooth Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe juvenna

Tiger Tooth Aloe
Credit: John Robert McPherson by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun 
  • Mature Size: 2 feet in height and width   
  • Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

The leaves of tiger tooth aloe are short, triangular and form tightly packed rosettes. Its foliage grows upright in neat, compressed stacks and are mainly green with red tips. 

This succulent gets its name from the large, white spikes that cover the leaves and resemble the sharp teeth of tigers. 

During the spring and summer, outdoor varieties may bloom with bright red flowers that have yellow mouths and sit atop long stems. 

Tiger tooth aloes may be small, but they have a striking appearance. They are suitable for both indoor and outdoor environments.  

14. Coral Aloe

Scientific Name: Aloe striata

Coral Aloe
Credit: Zeynel Cebeci by CC: 4.0
  • Ideal Position: Full sun or partial shade 
  • Mature Size: 2 feet in height and width   
  • Toxicity: Toxic to cats and dogs
  • USDA Zones: 9 to 11

The foliage of coral aloe is unique because its broad, flat and toothless. The leaves are blue green in color but the edges turn pink in the sunlight. The more sunlight they receive, the redder the foliage will become. 

Between winter and spring, huge clusters of coral red flowers emerge. The blooms are tubular and rich in nectar so attract many insects and hummingbirds. 

Coral aloe grow best in hot climates but also do well in temperate regions and are surprisingly cold hardy. 

Aloe Plant Care

Once you’ve decided on an aloe plant, it’s important to look after it correctly so it remains looking and can thrive. 

Luckily, like most succulents, aloes are relatively easy to care for as they are hardy and can tolerate frosts, drought and poor soil. Most aloes, including those on this list, are hardy between USDA zones 9 to 12. 

Here is a list of care tips for you to follow to help keep your aloes happy and healthy. 

Watering Requirements

Aloes are drought tolerant as they are adapted to living in hot arid conditions. 

They don’t like to have wet soil, which can cause water-logging and lead to root rot. Wait until the soil has dried out completely before giving your aloe more water. 

Positioning

Aloes thrive in full sun and should receive at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. 

Most can tolerate full sun, indeed, this can deepen the color of their foliage however, a bright spot with indirect light is best as leaves may become scorched. 

Temperature and Humidity

Being native to Africa and Madagascar, aloes favor tropical and subtropical climates. They do best at temperatures between 55oF and 85oF. They prefer a dry humidity at around 40%.  

Soil Type

Being succulents, aloes grow best in sandy soils and can withstand nutrient-poor conditions. 

Dry, well-draining soil is essential to ensure that roots are prevented from absorbing too much moisture. Aloe varieties retain water in their leaves but an excess can cause drooping foliage and root rot. 

An ideal soil pH needs to be slightly acidic in a pH range of 6.  

Feeding

Aloes are not heavy feeders so do not require much fertilizer. Limit feeding to the start of the growing season and use a liquid fertilizer specifically designed for succulents. 

Propagation

You can propagate aloe vera plants by harvesting its offshoots known as “pups” and repotting them. This is the easiest method and can be very rewarding since aloes regularly produce these off-shoots. 

Alternatively, you can cut off a healthy leaf and allow it to dry slightly. Then dip it in rooting hormone before planting it in some potting soil and wait for it to root.   

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of aloe vera?

The gel from aloe vera leaves may be applied to the skin or consumed. It can be used to treat sunburn, minor cuts, acne, dry skin, prevent wrinkles, reduce dental plaque and even stabilize blood sugar levels.

Do aloe vera leaves grow back?

Once aloe vera leaves have been cut, for example to obtain the gel inside, they will not regenerate. Instead, new leaves will continue to be produced from the center of the plant whilst lower leaves will grow larger. 

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.