Aloe Arborescens For the Fall

The eye-catching Aloe Arborescens

Credit: David Tarrant

Aloe arborescens, native to South Africa, is a wonderful plant for the fall

One of the plants that gives much joy in my Mexican garden during late September is Aloe arborescens. Many of you will be familiar with its cousin Aloe vera, known to most gardeners for its powerful wound-healing sap, and I suspect quite a few of you have it as a houseplant.

Aloe arborescens is native to much of the southern half of the African continent. They love the warmer desert climates of North America. My plants were rescued stem cuttings from a gardeners’ dump just three years ago!

They are perfect for this high-desert, drought-prone area of central Mexico. And even when not in bloom the strong glaucous arching rosettes of their foliage are eye catching year round , taking on a reddish hue during the colder months of December and January.

However, it is the architectural design of the unopened buds quickly followed by the stunning tubular flowers that really enhance the garden, attracting many hummingbirds.

At the moment the overall height of my plants averages about a metre. However as they age they can become over two metres in height with woody stems. Hence the botanical name.

Like most of the plants I write about, this one would not be winter hardy outdoors in B.C., however if you grew one in a large patio pot that could be wheeled into a cool unheated garage or shed for the frosty winter months, it would make a stunning addition to your summer patio, especially in the Okanagan.

If you are tempted to give one a try, well-drained soil is the key.