For many years, aloe has remained the most underrated indoor plant. And this is not surprising, because the widespread distribution of common aloe in the last century led to the fact that everyone forgot about other types of this amazing succulent. Aloe is primarily an ornamental plant. And with the right choice of type and variety, it can outshine any competitor. In trendy florariums and in ordinary pots, in mixed compositions and alone, aloe is a hardy, almost maintenance-free, surprisingly durable plant, which is finally getting a closer look.
Aloe aristata (Aloe aristata). Farmer Burea-Uinsurance.com alloe
Aloe – botanical description of the plant
Aloe represents amazing things in indoor culture the Asfodelov family (Asphodelaceae). In nature, aloe is found only in deserts, mainly in Africa and the Americas. Aloe is especially represented in the flora of Mexico, where this plant is striking in its diversity. Aloe is one of the oldest plants on the planet, similar to cacti in their natural range, but able to survive even where other succulents dry up and die.
The healing properties of aloe were appreciated three thousand years ago; it is one of the oldest medicinal plants mentioned in written sources two thousand years ago. The appearance, like the properties of aloe, remain unchanged for millennia.
Aloe can claim to be the most versatile of succulents. Individual species are so unlike each other that they are easier to mistake for other cultures than for relatives. Among the aloe there are shrubs, ground covers, decorative leafy stars. And every lover can find an aloe that he likes. The extraordinary diversity does not change the “essence” of this surprisingly simple plant. Differing in appearance, aloe still remains a succulent.
There are both tree-like and stemless plants in the aloe genus. All aloe “begin” as a large or compact rosette of leaves on a highly shortened stem. Trunks grow only with age, in some plants they lignify rather quickly, in others they remain almost unchanged for decades.
The height of aloe ranges from a modest 10 cm to 1 m in arboreal species. A distinctive feature is the fleshy leaves – thick, elongated, grooved, keeled, always collected in rosettes – basal or apical. The ability to accumulate water in leaves and close pores to stop water evaporation during prolonged drought allows aloe to withstand months without watering, without losing the decorative effect of the leaves.
The pulp of the leaf appears to be jelly-like, divided into cells. During drought, the size of the leaves decreases; with regular care, they increase their thickness. The length of the leaves ranges from less than 10 cm to 50-60 cm.However, in indoor aloe, the maximum size is often limited to 40 cm.
Almost all aloe leaves are serrated, with sharp thorns along the edge, but there are also species with smooth leaves and covered thorns along the entire surface of the leaves. Aloe’s thorns are predominantly sharp, but there are both soft and ciliate.
Despite the fact that aloe has never been associated with flowering, some species, during a cool winter, can surprise and delight. Star-like, surprisingly graceful narrow-bell-shaped or tubular miniature flowers appear precious against a backdrop of fleshy leaves. They are collected in pyramids and straight clusters of inflorescences and rise above the rosettes on surprisingly long peduncles. If aloe blooms, then you can admire their inflorescences in December or January, in the midst of winter.
Types of indoor aloe
In the genus Aloe there are both boring, outdated and very few attractive species, as well as completely unexpected and extravagant plants. Miniature and large, aggressively growing and not changing over the years, aloe allows you to choose a species for a decorative task. Of more than five hundred species of aloe in room culture, about five dozen are used, and only half of the plants with a bright personality have become popular of them.
The most common and familiar indoor aloe
First, let’s get acquainted with the boring and still not considered the most fashionable types of aloe.
Found in every home in Soviet times, aloe is aloe tree (Aloe arborescens), also known as “doctor” or “agave”. These are shrubs capable of exceeding a meter in height (and in nature even 3 m) with a branching, rough, cylindrical and succulent, despite lignification, stem. In youth, it retains the same color as greens – light green, and then more and more reddens, turns brown in the lower part and becomes covered with traces of old leaves.
Fleshy xiphoid leaves typical for aloe with a pointed edge, sharp teeth, curved along the edge and a bluish bloom on a light green background, can exceed 50 cm in length.If aloe blooms at home, it surprises with tubular, swollen at the base flowers up to 2- x cm in length with a faded yellowish-pink color. Flowers are collected in a brush.
Legendary Healing aloe (Aloe vera), in contrast to the aloe tree – the plant is very beautiful. Large thorny gray-green leaves in vertically elongated rosettes look strict and neat. Elongated vertically, this aloe looks elegant and rather modern.
Slow-growing also belongs to the highest species in nature. aloe marlota (Aloe marlothii). In indoor culture, this is far from a tree-like plant, slowly growing large rosettes with leaves up to 50 cm long, triangular and fleshy, and two types of thorns – sharp and soft, with beautifully elongated leaf tips and a much wider base. Reddish thorns only emphasize the size and massiveness of the leaves.
The largest aloe with a pronounced trunk is considered aloe is wild, scary or scary (Aloe ferox) Is a strikingly bright plant with dense, flowering rosettes. In nature, they rise on a thick trunk, and in rooms they are almost sedentary, with a barely noticeable shortened trunk, but still look very massive.
The leaves are thick, form neat rosettes, sit tightly, stand out not only for their fleshiness, but also for their bluish color and unusual shortened thorns. The rosettes are somewhat sloppy, the leaves are not quite symmetrical in them. It is rarely found in indoor culture, mainly as a floor plant. Luxurious, straight ears of hundreds of orange and red flowers growing directly from the center of the rosette do not appear in the pot culture. But the plant itself looks like a green sculpture thanks to its clean, massive lines.
But among the aloe there are much more original species. It is they who are actively used today in the design of florariums and are introduced into decorative compositions. Fancy rosettes, ornaments, patterns, perfect shapes and lines make them one of the most spectacular indoor plants for modern interior decoration. They are good in original containers and complex compositions, bring special textures, variegated and bright colors, the effect of living sculptures, requiring almost no maintenance.
You need to know that not all types of aloe have medicinal properties. Read more about this in the material Aloe – medicinal types and effective recipes for use.
The most decorative types of aloe
Among the compact species of aloe, the favorite of many has become aloe variegated (Aloe variegata), which we also like to call aloe tiger… This is a species with a strongly shortened stem and unique three-row rosettes of pointed at the ends, very elastic, broadly lanceolate, navicular curved leaves.
The plant looks very decorative thanks to its deep-dark green color, against the background of which the original stripes of countless white strokes and spots appear, located transversely and spiralingly. This is an amazing spotted species with light specks fancifully scattered over the entire surface. But the main distinguishing feature is the structure of the rosettes. The leaves seem to be nested within one another, which creates the effect of striking orderliness and ornamentation.
A similar effect – variegated ripples on fleshy triangular leaves with an elongated tip in neat rosettes – can also boast a light green-dark green aloe Yukunda (Aloe jucunda), and flaunting intricately curving wave leaves with white-green patterns aloe somali (Aloe somaliensis).
Quirky and surprisingly original looks aloe folded (Aloe plicatilis) – with double-row fan-shaped rosettes of linear-ribbon-like, flat, with a blunt tip of the leaves, smooth, with a unique, tulip-like leaves with a grayish bloom. The plant usually grows in the form of two rosettes, and only with age does it become noticeable that the central shoot is bifurcated and luxurious fans are located at its ends. An amazingly graceful, almost architectural plant.
Also, in two rows opposite each other, very fleshy, whitish-pink leaves are located and bent down in an ideal arch aloe opposite leaf (Aloe suprafoliata), the massiveness of which is emphasized by the growing trunk with the remnants of old leaves, and red thorns along the edge.
Bizarre aloe ciliate (Aloe ciliaris) – view of the amateur. A thin, climbing and branching stem creates bizarre silhouettes with sparse apical rosettes. The leaves are softer than those of other species, they will not exceed 15 cm in length, grayish, decorated with white teeth. This aloe got its specific name for the ciliated hairs at the base of the leaf blade tightly wrapping around the stem.
The narrow-lanceolate flowers look amazingly impressive: muted red or orange narrow tubes are collected in the pyramids of the inflorescences. This is the only species among indoor aloes that is grown as an ampelous culture.
It has become famous for its unique spines, similar to thick white eyelashes. aloe havortia (Aloe haworthioides). This is a unique species with graceful rosettes of thin lanceolate leaves, appearing fluffy and often pleasing with low clusters of creamy flowers.
Another species, which actively forms daughter rosettes and creates continuous patterned spots, also seems almost “furry” – aloe black thorn (Aloe melanacantha), in which pinkish edges further emphasize the brightness of the base emerald color.
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Aloe squat (Aloe humilis) – the most compact species with dense, dense rosettes formed by elongated, lanceolate-linear, almost vertical leaves, in some varieties – shortened triangular leaves. The plant grows rapidly and branches densely, releasing daughter rosettes and creating bizarre thickets that capture the entire space of the pot.
The seemingly elongated rosettes with a somewhat sloppy structure look even more beautiful due to the long peduncles, at the top of which red flowers with a yellow spot bloom.
Aloe multifoliate (also known as coiled or coiled, Aloe polyphylla) – a unique species with flat and very wide rosettes, in which, overlapping each other more than the middle of the leaf plate, fleshy, triangular, with a wide base, leaves are arranged counterclockwise in an amazingly dense and beautiful spiral. This is one of the best ornamental succulents that looks somewhat artificial.
Aloe spinous (Aloe aristata) Is a charming species with dark, very prickly, keeled leaves, decorated with white jagged edges and collected in miniature, but extremely dense, unusual rosettes. Fleshy leaves are arranged in a spiral. The rosettes are not limited to a few rows and are constantly growing in width, sometimes reaching more than 50 cm in diameter.
Rough leaves with tough small spots further accentuate their prickly edge. Looking flat and imposing, this aloe creates very beautiful textural accents and spots, and when viewed from above, mesmerizes with the effect of a strict rosette ornament.
Orange inflorescences in indoor conditions are very rare. This aloe has many hybrids and varieties, for example, Cosmo, with less neat and larger, but not so wide rosettes of large striped leaves and an appearance more like Hawortia.
Aloe Rauha (Aloe rauhii) Is a very spectacular silver-leafed look, on the surface of the smooth matte leaves of which dark lines and stripes appear. Large rosettes of fleshy leaves, folded at the end of the leaves, can reach 20 cm in diameter.In the base plant, gray leaves are densely covered with whitish, merging stripes, but in unnamed varieties that have replaced species plants today, all leaves appear silvery-white or irregularly colored (for example, white-green spotted “Snowflake” (Snowflake), green with orange-yellow papillae and red border variety “Donny” (Donnie) and pr).
Two types with very narrow and long, reminiscent of the fleshy version of dracaena, leaves in sloppy rosettes are very effective – aloe pretty (Aloe bellatula, the leaves adorn a white border and white streaks on a dark reddish background) and white-flowered aloe (Aloe albiflora) with dark gray-green leaves, densely covered with white dots of growths.
Aloe incisional (Aloe perfoliata) forms massive rosettes with serrated leaves, which are somewhat reminiscent of artichokes and conquer by the contrast of a dark color with white thorns. From the very center of the rosette, a straight peduncle rises with an original pyramid of narrow-tubular red flowers.
Hedgehog aloe (Aloe maculata) – the most prickly look, which is decoratively given by white, darkening with age to brown-black, long, prominent thorns. The neat tiled stemless rosettes are very dense and, thanks to their prickly texture, seem to be a lace-graphic miracle. And the rounded shape of the rosettes and their perfect symmetry only emphasize the beauty of the plant.
Silhouettes look like fancy maces – elongated rosettes of thick thorny gray leaves on thin trunks aloe dichotomous (Aloe dichotoma).
Aloe strongly branched (Aloe ramosissima) – shrubs or multi-stemmed trees, in which a bizarre crown of similar rosettes and narrow rod-shaped leaves rises above the trunks resembling bonsai.
Growing conditions for indoor aloe
It is no coincidence that the legendary aloe is considered one of the most hardy plants. They can retain decorativeness in almost any conditions, if we do not forget about the thermophilicity and the origin of the species. Absolutely any premises with normal living conditions are suitable for these persistent succulents, and even aloe can adapt to different lighting conditions much better than cacti and Co.
Lighting and placement
Aloe species differ in light-loving, but all, without exception, can grow well both on a sunny windowsill and in a bright place with diffused lighting. It is believed that aloe can tolerate direct sunlight well. But plants need to be adapted to the sun gradually, and in varietal plants or species with an original color, too intense lighting can cause changes, reddening, thinning of the leaves.
It is better to protect plants from the midday sun. Shading is tolerated only by one species – aloe tree. Usually, aloe itself signals a lack of lighting by stretching and deforming the leaves, changing the color to a paler one.
Despite the unpretentiousness of aloe, in winter it is sometimes difficult for it to adapt to short daylight hours. If possible, especially during warm wintering, the aloe should be rearranged to a more illuminated place or additional lighting should be provided. When wintering in the coolness, there is no need to adjust the lighting.
For aloe, the best place has always been considered to be the eastern and western windowsills or a place near the southern windows.
Temperature control and ventilation
Aloe belongs to heat-loving plants and is content with room temperatures during the period of active development, is not afraid of heat and does not require artificial temperature stabilization.
During the dormant period, temperatures are only important if you want to achieve aloe flowering. It can be stimulated only by wintering at a temperature of at least 12 to 16 degrees with a possible decrease to 5-10 degrees. If flowers are not the goal, aloe feels great in normal room conditions, but is more capricious about lighting.
Aloe loves ventilation and access to fresh air. At the same time, drafts are most often not afraid of him and the plant perfectly tolerates even sudden temperature changes. This is one of the indoor plants that are not afraid of heating devices and air conditioners nearby, but with too much overheating of the air, it is better not to overdo it. In summer, all types of aloe can be taken out into the open air, but with mandatory protection from precipitation.
Home care for aloe
The only thing that should be categorically avoided when caring for aloe is waterlogging. For the rest, the plants are content with minimal care and retain their decorative effect, even if they have been forgotten due to some force majeure. Very rare watering, even more rare fertilizing, the absence of any other procedures make aloe one of the best candidates for a modern interior and for those who do not want or cannot devote a lot of time to their home collection of plants.
Watering and air humidity
When choosing the frequency of watering for aloe, it is best to focus on the drying out of the substrate. In summer, plants require ample watering. But in winter, even the average moisture content of the substrate for aloe will be excessive. Water the aloe as soon as the substrate dries out by about half or almost completely drying it out (after the top layer has dried, it is worth waiting 1 or 2 days in summer and 3 or 4 days in winter).
Aloe is not afraid of drought; it may not suffer from lack of care for a long time. In winter, when the temperature drops, aloe is not watered at all, and when kept warm, it is very rare and scarce.
Top dressing and composition of fertilizers
Aloe does well without feeding, especially if the plants are not blooming. For them, in the first year after transplanting, fertilizer can not be applied at all. From the second to the next transplant, top dressing can be carried out with a frequency of 1 time per month with a standard or 2 times a month with a halved dose of fertilizers.
For any aloe, only special fertilizers for succulents are suitable.
Pruning and shaping aloe
Any pruning on aloe is carried out only as a last resort. Drying old leaves are separated by hand after they have completely died off. If, in order to preserve decorativeness or if the greenery is damaged, it is necessary to prune, use a disinfected tool and immediately process the sections with charcoal.
Planting, containers and substrate
Aloe prefers an annual transplant at a young age and a change of pots after mastering the previous ones – at a mature age. The containers are not increased much, only by 1-2 cm; too spacious and deep containers for aloe will not work. For aloe transplant, the standard terms are used – February or March.
For aloe, it is worth choosing special substrates for succulents. Commercial mixtures are preferable, but aloe will grow well in self-compiled soil from quality materials. When mixing for aloe, half the dose of sand, humus, leafy soil is added to the sod soil. The addition of coarse sand or loosening additives improves air permeability, and the addition of charcoal – resistance to waterlogging.
Aloe is grown only with a high drainage layer. When planting aloe, it is advisable to pour a layer of sand over the drainage and on top of the substrate. Aloe in containers with good drainage holes can only be grown with sand drainage. Mulching the soil with decorative stone chips or sand improves not only the presentability of the outlets, but also avoids any risk of waterlogging.
Aloe grows well in inert soil and decorative substrates, with a minimum amount of soil in decorative florariums.
Diseases, pests and problems in growing aloe
Usually, aloe is resistant to any indoor pests. Only in a neglected state can it become vulnerable to aphids, but still most often suffers from rot, the only cause of which is improper watering.
Reproduction of aloe
This is one of the easiest crops to breed. It is easier to propagate aloe by separating daughter offspring during transplantation (you can only separate daughter rosettes that have formed their own roots) or by cuttings.
In this culture, both apical and leafy cuttings can be used. Rooting is carried out under a hood in a light sandy substrate, maintaining light soil moisture and providing long daylight hours with additional lighting. It is advisable to dry the slices before planting.
Growing from seeds at home is rarely used. They are sown in shallow containers, in a sterile sandy substrate, superficially, under a film or glass. Young plants are very afraid of waterlogging and any contacts – they are carefully dived only after the second leaf appears.