Aloes come in a variety of growth forms, from small miniatures to tall single-stemmed or branched trees, while certain species even form large, tangled shrubs. The usually swollen and succulent leaves are more or less lance- or sword-shaped in outline and boat-shaped in cross-section. Leaves are arranged in terminal rosettes and are armed along their margins with usually sharp, but sometimes soft, teeth.
Flowers are grouped in candle-like or cone-shaped inflorescences, which can be branched or simple. The most common shape of flowers found in Aloe is tubular flowers, although some species have curved or even bell-shaped flowers. They are typically brightly colored and most often in various hues of red, orange and yellow, but there are also some species with green, pink or white flowers.
Aloes are very popular and some of the most rewarding plants to cultivate. They do well in low-water environments like dune scapes or rock gardens. Aloes work well as edgings or borders, depending on size and can also be planted in colonies for a dramatic effect. Their sturdy appearance contrasts well with more delicate plants and they make good additions to perennial or tropical gardens. Aloes are also frequently grown as container plants, both indoors and out. With the right care, most Aloes bloom at least once a year.
Aloe bloom times depend on the species, but they often bloom sporadically throughout the year. The vast majority of aloes flower in winter, while some groups, like the Grass Aloes for instance, usually flower in spring or summer.
Aloes grow well in warmer climates where winter temperatures do not fall below freezing. In areas where colder temperatures are possible, the plants must be protected if temperatures fall below 32 °F (0 °C) for more than a few hours. While they will tolerate full sun, bright, reflected light may become too much for them. In summer, water them every other week, and winter rainfall will take care of them the rest of the year. They prefer sandy, well-draining soil and you should ensure it is dry before planting them in the ground.
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