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Aloe ballyi (Rat Aloe)


Scientific Name

Aloe ballyi Reynolds

Common Name(s)

Rat Aloe

Scientific Classification

Family: Asphodelaceae
Subfamily: Asphodeloideae
Tribe: Aloeae
Genus: Aloe


This species is native to Kenya and Tanzania.


Aloe ballyi is a rare succulent that forms a slender, unbranched stem topped with a crown of long leaves. The stem can grow up to 20 feet (6 m) tall and up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter. Leaves are grey-green with white marginal teeth, up to 3 feet (90 cm) long and up to 6 inches (15 cm) wide. They are mostly straight on young plants, becoming recurved towards the tips with ages. Brocken leaves give off a smell reminiscent of rats when broken. Flowers are tubular, carmine to reddish-orange, and appear on an up to 2 feet (60 cm) long, branched inflorescence.


The specific epithet "ballyi (BAL-lee-eye)" honors Peter René Oscar Bally (1895-1980), a Swiss botanist, taxonomist, botanical illustrator, and plant collector.

Aloe ballyi (Rat Aloe)

Photo by Mike Musgrave

How to Grow and Care for Aloe ballyi

Light: When growing A. ballyi indoors, place your plant near a window that gets plenty of bright indirect light. Rotate the pot once or twice a week so that all sides of the plant receive equal lighting. Outdoors, provide light shade, especially during the hottest parts of the day.

Soil: Plant A. ballyi in a well-drained soil mix specially formulated for succulents or make your own. Drainage is essential because too much moisture around roots can cause root rot.

Hardiness: When temperatures shift below 50 °F (10 °C), it is time to bring your plant back inside. A. ballyi can withstand temperatures as low as 25 to 50 °F (-3.9 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b.

Watering: This succulent does need regular watering but is very tolerant of drought conditions for short periods. Water deeply, but only when the soil is dry. Cut back on watering during the winter months. Do not let water stand in the rosettes.

Fertilizing: A. ballyi generally does not require fertilizer but may benefit from the extra nutrients. Feed with a fertilizer for succulents in spring and summer only. Be sure to follow label directions.

Repotting: This plant is not particularly fast-growing and will only rarely need repotting. Repot it in the spring in a container a few inches larger in diameter every few years to keep it from becoming rootbound.

Propagation: Propagating A. ballyi can be done using the offsets, cuttings, or seeds from a mature plant. Remove offsets from the mother plant or take cuttings with a sharp knife in late spring or early summer. For best results, sow seeds during the warm months.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Aloe.

Toxicity of Aloe ballyi

A. ballyi is one of the few poisonous Aloes.


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