Ornamentally attractive, the aloe plant is primarily known for its numerous health benefits. The gel of the aloe vera’s fleshy leaves is a quick and reliable way to treat a number of skin ailments such as cuts and sunburn. However, the attraction doesn’t end there.
Like many succulents, these plants are pleasingly easy to care for. Thriving in dry conditions, once established, these are attractive, low maintenance plants. As well as being largely disease and pest resistant these versatile specimens thrive in a range of planting schemes. Many types of aloe are also great houseplants.
There are over 250 types of aloe currently recorded. However only 4 of these are medicinally useful. Others can be toxic, so check the plant information and do your research before planting.
If you want to learn about some of the most attractive types of aloe, this list is for you.
These are attractive, low maintenance plants. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/symmetry-design-natural-aloe-vera-2073250/
1 Capitata var. Quartziticola
One of the larger types of aloe on our list, Capitata is a stemless variety, identified by its tapered grey-green foliage. During sunny spells the foliage can take on an attractive purple hue. Adding further interest, the foliage, which can stretch up to 18 inches long, is often decorated with small, red teeth.
Once established, the Capitata plant sets up a flower stalk. On this sits orange buds which open to reveal glossy bell shaped yellow flowers. Enjoying a spread and height of around 3 ft, this variety is a popular source of nectar for both bees and birds. Like many types of aloe this is a drought tolerant plant which is ideal for xeriscapes.
An evergreen succulent that is hardy in USDA Zones 9 and warmer unlike other Madacascan types, Capitata varieties can tolerate some cold weather.
These are surprisingly colorful plants.
2 A. Barbadensis
One of the most individual looking types of aloe, Barbadensis or the Barbados aloe is identified by its foliage which faces up to the sky. When people commonly describe the aloe vera plant it is usually this plant that they are describing.
The spiked edges of the Barbadensis foliage often have a green-yellow hue, while the leaves are light green in color. In the spring the foliage takes on an attractive red or purple color. During the summer months the plant’s leaves plump out, becoming full of the useful gummy sap that makes these succulents so prized.
Ideal for warmer gardens or growing as a houseplant, Barbadensis flowers come in shades of red, orange and yellow. Like many types of aloe the plants are native to Africa. Hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12, for more information about caring for these types of aloe plants, this is a great guide.
Be careful A. barbadensis can be toxic to pets if consumed.
The flower spikes of the Barbadensis plant sit above the light green foliage.
The Common Climbing Aloe is a thin, resilient and quick growing specimen. Named Ciliaris after the white hair-like teeth that form on the edge of leaves and stems, the plants are identified by their tubular red-orange flowers which have a creamy-yellow tip. Another variety that is popular with pollinators, the soft green foliage provides a perfect backdrop for the Ciliaris’ flowers and to showcase other flowering plants.
Typically flowering from November to April, the flowers are not long lasting in colder climates. Best planted in full sun, Ciliaris is hardy in USDA Zones 9 and warmer. Adding further interest, the foliage of the Ciliaris curves, allowing the plant to wrap onto other plants and structures, holding itself in place. One of the smaller types of aloe, Ciliaris can eventually reach 1 ft in height. You can also grow Ciliaris as a houseplant.
Tall flowering spikes add height to a collection of low growing plants.
4 Golden Toothed
Golden Toothed, formally known as A. nobili, is one of the most colorful types of aloe. Producing triangular bright green leaves which have white teeth or spikes along the edges, in the summer the foliage turns a rich orange color. This is complemented by the orange tubular flowers which typically emerge in the spring.
Achieving a height and spread of no more than 2 ft, Golden Toothed plants are typically hardy in USDA Zones 9 and warmer. Like many other types of aloes, these are ideal for growing in containers or as houseplants. Golden Toothed types thrive in full sun and sandy soil. In warmer climates they are a great choice for ground cover or adding structure to a border.
The spiked foliage of the Golden Toothed plant.
Easily identified by the spiral shape which the grey-green leaves form, this variety rarely flowers. Instead it is the foliage that provides the main interest. If the Spiral (A. polyphylla) does flower then tubular pink blooms only add to the interest already created by the foliage.
Spiral leaves are typically green with pale green or white spikes and dark purple tips. Like many other types of aloe, Spiral plants thrive in full sun positions. The plant is both drought tolerant and deer resistant. A Mosthink Soil Moisture Meter monitors not only soil moisture content but also light levels, enabling you to ensure the plant gets lots of light to enhance its ornamental appearance.
Native to Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains these plants can tolerate temperatures down to around 5 ℉ in their native area and around 20 ℉ elsewhere. Thriving in rocky, rich soils today these attractive plants are considered endangered because of a change in weather patterns.
Foliage curves to form a spiral shape.
The Arabian (A. rubroviolacea) is an attractive evergreen. Its green leaves, which have red teeth and edges arch outwards from the thick central rosette. As the summer fades the rich red color intensifies. At the height of winter Arabian plants can appear violet-red.
Typically reaching 3 ft high and around 6 ft wide this is an ideal specimen plant that can add structure to rock gardens or borders. Best planted in well draining soil in a light, full sun position, like many other types of aloe Arabian plants are a popular source of nectar for birds and pollinators. Disease resistant and low maintenance the plants are also ideal for container gardens.
Native to north Yemen and Saudi Arabia, like most types of aloe these showy evergreens are hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11.
Larger varieties are great specimen plants.
7 Aloe x Principis
One of the taller types of aloe, this variety can reach up to 9 ft in height. With a spread of 3 to 6 ft, Principis is one of the larger varieties and is ideal for specimen planting. Native to South Africa, these plants work well in succulent gardens, rock gardens and even Mediterranean planting schemes.
During the winter months scarlet or orange spikes emerge, adding color to drab winter gardens. Thriving in full sun and well draining soil, once established Principis plants rarely require water. They are also hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11.
Large varieties provide interest and soft structure.
8 Tree Aloe
Formally named A. barberae this is easily the largest of the types of aloe on our list. Thanks to its moderately fast growth habit the Tree plant can soon reach its mature height of 20 to 30 ft, depending on the growing conditions. Coupled with a spread of between 10 to 20 ft. mature specimens can be large. However, younger plants thrive in containers.
Ideal for a range of climates, A. barberae can tolerate short exposure to temperatures as low as 22 ℉ however the foliage may discolor. Native to South Africa, butterflies and hummingbirds adore the tubular shaped flower clusters which usually emerge during the winter. Meanwhile, the green-gray leaves and mottled gray stems provide year round interest. There are a number of different types of A. barberae including A. pillansii and A. dichotoma.
Tall red flowers are popular with pollinators and hummingbirds.
9 Red Aloe
One of the most attractive types of aloe, A. cameronii is prized for its curly upright foliage which can range in color from light greens to rich copper-red shades. This is complemented by the plants bright orange flowers which emerge in early winter.
Typically reaching between 2 ft and 4 ft wide, the plants are often smaller when planted in a container. Ideal for rock gardens and borders, A. cameronii thrives in both full and partial sun.
Preferring well draining sandy or gravelly soil, like many other types of aloe that are native to South Africa these plants are hardy in USDA Zones 9 and warmer. Easy to propagate from cuttings, birds and pollinators love the nectar that the large flowers provide. If you want to learn more about propagating types of aloe plants, this is a good guide.
10 Cape Speckled
The Cape Speckled (A. microstigma) plant is known for its decorative foliage and spiky flowers. These flowers form as red buds before blooming into attractive yellow-orange or orange flowers. Resembling candles, the flowers add both color and interest to winter gardens. When not in flower the plant’s white speckled leaves, which are lined with red teeth, have an interest of their own.
Easy to care for like many other types of aloe the plants thrive in well draining soil and sunny positions. A reliable border or accent plant, the blue green leaves can turn red-brown when stressed.
Speckled varieties are prized for their decorative foliage.
11 Crosby’s Prolific
This is an attractive dwarf type, Crosby’s Prolific rarely exceeds 12 inches in height. The plant’s green leaves are typically 12 to 15 inches long and have small, translucent teeth along their edges. The fleshy leaves can be speckled white and may take on a red hue. This coloring intensifies in warm or sunny weather. When in flower Crosby’s Prolific produces eye-catching orange flowers.
A hybrid variety, Crosby’s Prolific is a cross between A. nobilis and A. humilis var. echinatum. Almost completely disease free and easy to grow, Crosby’s Prolific is a popular low maintenance choice.
Speckled foliage and translucent teeth add to the attraction.
Prized for its sword shaped foliage, which is blue-green in color, and covered with white spots, the Soap (A. maculata) is one of the most attractive types of aloe. When planted in full sun the foliage takes on a pink-red hue, further adding to the interest. Reaching no more than 2 ft in height and spreading just 1 ft wide, this may be one of the smaller varieties on our list but it is also one of the hardiest. These plants are hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 12.
During the winter months tubular flowers, typically in shades of orange, emerge. A reliable cultivar, the Soap plant can flower several times throughout the year in certain climates. Popular with bees and hummingbirds the Soap plant is both drought and salt resistant making it a good choice for coastal gardens.
White spots help to break up masses of green foliage.
Thanks to its bright red leaves this is one of the most colorful cultivars on our types of aloe list. Initially bright green, the more light that Sunset (A. dorotheae) is exposed to the redder the foliage turns. Typically reaching 1 ft in height and spreading around 2 ft wide, during the winter months green-yellow flowers emerge.
Ideal ground cover, Sunset plants are hardy in USDA Zones 10 to 12, where they can be used as ground cover. In other areas, plant Sunset in pots and move inside as temperatures begin to fall. If you are growing in a cooler climate placing the pot on a Metal Plant Caddy enables you to move the plant easily around your home and garden. This ensures that Sunset is both protected from cold weather and can bask in as much sunlight as possible, helping it to reach its richest color.
Like many other plants on our types of aloe list, with the right care these low maintenance specimens are largely problem free.
When exposed to the sun, the foliage turns a rich red color.
A large, showy variety, the blue green leaves of the Tilt-Head (A. speciosa) can develop a pink tinge at the edges and tip during the warmest months of the year. Further adding to the attraction, the thick leaves of the Tilt-Head can be over 3 ft long and covered in rich red or yellow spikes. The plant itself can reach up to 10 ft and spread 4 to 6 ft, making it the ideal specimen plant.
Tilt-Heads are hardy in USDA Zones 9 and warmer. When in flower, each leafy rosette can produce up to 4 red inflorescence. Hummingbirds in particular flock to these plants.
Tilt-Heads are one of the larger types on our list.
The Torch or A. arborescens is one of the most eye-catching plants on our types of aloe list. Not to be confused with the Torch Plant, the distinct appearance of the Torch flowers has given the plant its other name of the Candelabra Plant.
Producing large, sword shaped leaves, the edges of which are marked with pale teeth, each stem is capable of bearing many leafy rosettes. During the winter months at least 2 flower spikes emerge from each rosette. These large, conical flower spikes, either red or orange in color, open to reveal bright red flowers.
Ideal for borders, A. arborescens has a shrubby growth habit. If allowed to develop, unpruned in ideal conditions the plants can reach 10 ft tall and wide. As well as accenting borders Torch Plants are also ideal for planting in large containers.
Torch produces candle-like flowers.
16 Van Balen’s
One of the most distinctive types of aloe,the long twisting leaves of the Van Balen (A. vanbalenii) plant can resemble the tentacles of an octopus. Usually bright green with a copper-red edge, when exposed to the sun or warm temperatures, the foliage can turn a rich shade of orange or red.
Like many types of aloe the foliage of the Van Balen plant is lined with red teeth. If the foliage is damaged or bruised it can release a musky or cinnamon-like aroma. During the winter or early spring months, the plants produce slender yellow or yellow-orange tubular shaped flowers. These are a popular source of nectar for many pollinators and hummingbirds. Mature Van Balen plants are typically 3 ft tall and 3 to 4 ft wide.
Van Balen plants produce large, tentacle-like leaves.
17 Torch Plant
Both hardy and elegant, the Torch Plant (A. aristata) is a reliable evergreen perennial. Hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 12, as the Torch Plant develops it forms rosettes of lance shaped incurved foliage. Forming low growing clumps the Torch Plants rarely exceed 20 inches in height.
Typically pale green, in full sun the leaves turn a deep, dark shade of green. Speckled with white spots, the leaves have spikes towards their tips and have a soft white spine. During the winter months Torch Plants produce bright orange-red flowers.
Torch Plants produce attractive incurved leaves with white teeth.
One of the most frost hardy types of aloe, Coral (A. striata) is a reliable evergreen perennial that is hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11.
Coral plants are popular for their attractive rosettes. These are made up of pale, gray-green flat, broad foliage. When planted in full sun the leaves can become pink. In shadier positions they redevelop a blue-gray hue.
One of the toothless types of aloe, the leaves instead develop narrow stripes along their lengths. In late winter clusters of coral flowers emerge on tall, candelabra stems over 2 ft above the foliage. Each rosette can produce up to 3 inflorescences. Typically Coral types of aloe are 18 inches tall and wide. This compact size makes them ideal for borders and containers.
Floral clusters add further interest.
Short-Leaf types of aloe (A. brevifolia) are typically round perennials. These plants look particularly attractive in a group or mass planting. Known for their attractive foliage, the pale blue or blue green triangular spreading leaves turn rose-pink or yellow in the sun. When planted in full sun the color of the Short-Leaf is at its richest.
In late spring orange, tubular blooms emerge, these compliment the colorful foliage. Many varieties of Short-Leaf produce foliage that is decorated with white spikes or spines along their edges. Some spikes also appear on the lower edges of the leaf. Offsetting readily to form a colony of plants, Short-Leafs are a good choice for providing ground cover for a small sunny area. They are also ideal for planting in containers.
Foliage can be decorated with small spikes or teeth.
One of the best ornamental types of aloe, the Snake (A. broomii) is also a pleasingly robust specimen. Forming a dense, short stemmed rosette of light green leaves with red brown teeth this is one of the more slow growing types of aloe.
A slow growing plant, Snakes can take up to 5 years to reach their mature size. When mature the plants can be 1 to 3 ft tall and wide, depending on the growing conditions. Typically, the head of the Snake produces just 1 rosette but sometimes this can divide to form 3 rosettes. Frost and disease resistant, these plants are hardy in USDA Zones 9 to 11. Snakes are an ideal choice for arid or semi-arid areas. Like many of the other types of aloe, Snakes are a great focal point. Snake flowers are light yellow or lemon in color.
Reliable plants, the foliage of many types of aloe provide the most interest.
Easy to grow and care for, if planted in the right position, once established these resilient plants rarely require watering. Instead they store moisture in the fleshy leaves enabling them to survive long periods of drought. If planted in good or rich soil the plants do not require additional fertilizer. However, if planted in poor soil or in containers you may need to apply a dose of appropriate fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro Succulent Food a couple of times a year.
Low maintenance and largely problem free, even the most unsightly problems such as leaves turning brown are easy to solve. The various types of aloe outlined above are a great way of introducing long lasting color and interest to your garden or houseplant collection.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.