Aloes are an extremely large and interesting group of plants. The aloe genus contains over 500 species and hundreds of cultivars in a wide range of growth habits, patterns, and colors.
Aloe vera is by far the most popular and widely known aloe, but there are many other aloes that deserve houseplant collectors’ attention.
Today we will talk about the top 5 Aloes that are beautiful, uncommon, and well-suited for life as a houseplant.
Table of Contents
- Aloe ‘Blue Elf’
- Aloe ‘Nobilis’ variegata
- Aloe ‘White Stag’
- Aloe ‘Firecracker’
- Aloe hemmingii
- How to Care for Aloe as a Houseplant
- Related Posts
Aloe ‘Blue Elf’
Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ is a beautiful cultivar with soft blue leaves sporting teeth along the leaf margins. It is a clumping Aloe, meaning that it grows pups or baby plants that will emerge tightly around the mother plant. These pups will eventually fill the pot in a clump-like manner.
This particular Aloe stays more compact than many, making it a wonderful houseplant. I have had Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ for a couple of years now and it is only around a foot tall.
Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ is a hybrid of A. glauca and A. humilis.
Aloe ‘Nobilis’ variegata
Aloe ‘Nobilis’ variegata is a gorgeous, clumping aloe that features a short, stocky growth habit with creamy variegated striping on its leaves. This particular plant seems to do well in an East-facing window for me. When growing in a West-facing window, it suffered a little sunburn which you can still see in some of the pictures.
Aloe ‘Nobilis’ is a hybrid and is also available as a non-variegated plant. The all-green Aloe ‘Nobilis’ can be found in succulent nurseries and online for sale. The variegated plant I have never seen for sale in person but can be found readily online.
When variegated, it is a slower grower. Both the original and variegated plants only reach 6 to 12 inches in height.
I’ve had my variegated plant for a couple of years and it has about doubled in size, but still sits around only 6 or so inches tall.
Aloe ‘White Stag’
Aloe ‘White Stag’ is another hybrid, but I’m not sure what its parentage is. It features gorgeous, pale green leaves with darker green flicking. It is another clumping aloe, which you can see in the photos. The pot is bursting with babies clumped around the parent.
The plant, even in maturity, stays low to the ground, peaking at less than 6 inches in height.
Technically you can separate the babies once sizeable and allow them to grow individually, but I like the pot brimming with babies so I don’t plan to separate any of them any time soon.
Aloe ‘Firecracker’ is one of the most beautiful hybrids. When this plant receives larger amounts of light, its leaves develop a beautiful pinkish-red color, making this plant absolutely stunning. My photos show that my plant is mostly green because of the lower light levels in Michigan currently.
I’ll insert a photo below of one with sunblush so you can see what I mean!
This guy is yet another clumping variety. You can see the little pup next to the mama plant in the photo below. The plant stays fairly small, similarly to Aloe ‘Nobilis’, making Aloe ‘Firecracker’ well suited for houseplant life.
Aloe hemmingii is an absolutely stunning plant with glossy leaves and striking patterns. It is the only aloe on this list that sports smooth shiny leaves!
It’s also the only plant on this list that isn’t a hybrid! This plant originates from Africa, like the majority of the Aloes.
It is commonly called the Mosaic Aloe because of the beautiful markings on the leaves.
Note how the leaves are a bit curled. This is due to high light levels in summer combined with some neglectful watering on my part. I’m working to get this guy to a better hydration level so it can uncurl its leaves and show off the beautiful patterning a little more!
A picture showing what all 5 look like when together
From left to right: Aloe ‘White Stag’, Aloe hemmingii, Aloe ‘Blue Elf’, Aloe ‘Nobilis’ Variegata, Aloe ‘Firecracker’
Do you love Aloes too and want to see some more of my favorites? Let me know in the comments below! I have around 20 varieties in my collection and would love to share more. 🙂
How to Care for Aloe as a Houseplant
I take care of all of my Aloes pretty much the same way, so I thought I would just make a little section at the end here to summarize what I am doing to keep my Aloes healthy and happy.
Pot and Potting Mix
Aloes like lots of aeration and do not want to sit wet for long periods of time. To ensure their roots stay healthy, I put all of my aloes in terracotta pots. Terracotta is a wonderful material because it is porous which allows moisture to pass through the pot, preventing the potting mix from remaining wet for long periods of time.
Could you also grow Aloe in plastic or ceramic? Absolutely. I just find I have the best luck with terracotta.
I also use a light and airy potting mix for all of my aloes. I have been using about 50% pumice to 50% houseplant potting mix successfully for a long time.
In the photo below you can see the large amount of chunky pumice in Aloe hemmingii’s potting mix.
Aloes can do well in a range of lighting, from happily sitting on an East-facing windowsill where it receives morning sunlight to sitting near a South-facing window where it receives a lot of sunlight throughout the day.
I have most of my aloes in east-facing windows. I also grow Aloe vera in a West-facing window and a few others a couple of feet back from a large South-facing window. All are doing well.
The key is to make sure that they are in or very near a window to get all that bright light they need. If your aloe has been in a darker spot of your home and you want to move it to a place with more sunlight, you may want to slowly acclimate it there to prevent burning the leaves.
Aloes prefer to dry out completely before being watered again. Most aloes have thick succulent leaves that store a lot of extra water for the plant. If provided too much water, those leaves will begin to rot and turn to mush (as will the roots).
One exception is grass aloes which, as the name implies, have thinner, grass-like leaves that hold less water. These aloes still would prefer to be dry over wet but may need slightly more water than the thicker leafed varieties.
Aloe can sit dry for a bit also without any long-term consequences. This makes them wonderful for underwaterers, people who travel regularly, or people who just want some low-maintenance plants.
Aloe can be fertilized using either an indoor plant fertilizer or a succulent-specific fertilizer. While they do require nutrients to grow at their healthiest, they don’t require much. A one or two weak fertilizations throughout the growing season would be sufficient for these guys!
Common Pest Issues
Aloes, like most succulents, attract aphids, mealybugs, and sometimes scale. They can have other pests as well, but these three are by far the most common.
Check your aloes in seasonal transition periods to see if any pests have moved in. I’ve routinely found aphids or mealies on some of my aloes in Spring for years now.
For more information about how to identify and treat pests, check out my blog post here: What Pest is on My Houseplant & What Can I Do About It?