Aloe excelsa A.Berger
Zimbabwe Aloe, Noble Aloe
Aloe excelsa is a single-stemmed succulent up to 20 feet (6 m) tall. The leaves form a compact rosette at the top, spreading, becoming recurved, and up to 3.3 feet (1 m) long. They are dark green in summer, succulent, and up to 1.2 inches (3 cm) thick at the center. All but the lowest part of the trunk is swathed in the remains of dead leaves. Young plants have a great number of spines over their leaf surfaces. However, as they are taller and less vulnerable to grazing, these brown-red teeth disappear and remain only on the leaf margins. This species is frequently confused with the related Aloe ferox and Aloe africana. They do look very similar when fully grown. However, the flowers are different, with the racemes of A. excelsa being far shorter and slightly curved.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Aloe is a very forgiving plant, and a well-grown plant can be quite beautiful. As with all succulents, it is essential that Aloe is never allowed to sit in stagnant water, and the plant should be carefully monitored to watch for signs of overwatering.
These succulents are not particularly fast-growing and will only rarely need repotting. In the spring, repot Aloes that are tipping over their pots or have ceased growing. Use a fast-draining potting mix with one-third sand or pebbles. During the repotting of a larger plant, it is possible to divide the root ball carefully. Some varieties of Aloe will send off offsets that can be potted independently.
Aloe plants need strong, bright light. They can withstand full summer sun, once acclimated. In the winter, provide bright light. It prefers warmer temperatures of 70 to 80 °F (21 to 27 °C) but will survive down to 40 °F (4.5 °C). Feed with a succulent fertilizer in the summer only. Suspend feeding in the winter as the plant goes dormant. See more at How to Grow and Care for Aloe.
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