soap aloe is from South Africa and looks at home
in the Mediterranean or Contemporary style garden.
soap aloe is just one of those plants that stir up a
passion in gardeners and plant aficionados across the
country. Itís known botanically as Aloe maculata, and
at first glance, you would swear it is from Mexico but
alas its home is over 9,000 miles away in South Africa.
first fell in love with it when I would travel to the
California Pack Trials and drive from San Diego to San
Francisco. Then it seems 70-80 percent of the homes in
the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas had it in the
landscape. It is one of those plants that just seems to
be at home in hot, arid, frost-free climates.
I arrived in Savannah, I was surprised to see it
flourishing in the sweltering heat and humidity. I was
even more delighted to see that a bone-chilling 18
degrees had no lingering effect. It seems good drainage
and sunlight are the two most important factors for it
to thrive in the home landscape.
internet search will suggest everything from zone 9 to
11 with an occasional suggestion to zone 8. All would be
correct, and here in Savannah, we are indeed in zone 8b.
Donít let those zones deter you from growing this
incredible plant as it looks most exotic in containers
which can be moved for protection during the winter.
might be thinking an aloe is an aloe what is so special
about this one. I would be the first to spout back whatís
not to like. The leaves are speckled and offer a
wonderful contrasting texture in the landscape. But to
be honest, it is the flowers that mesmerize me.
foliage reaches around 18 inches tall and about 18 to 24
inches wide when mature. The plant produces spikes of
flowers that can be from 24 to 36 inches tall and are
red/orange. Here is what has amazed me this year. We
have several here in the garden. I shot my first
blooming photos in mid-April; we had blooms in May and
in June. Now our soap aloe plants grown at the garden
entrance are blooming in conjunction with the yellow
tall flower stalks are so eye-catching and appealing youíll
want to pause for a closer look. But, you will find you
are not the only visitor. The ruby-throated hummingbird,
or whichever species you have, will beat you there and
take their time feasting on every flower.
have the soap aloe in our Mediterranean garden where it
looks at home and at our entrance. But, it also does
well in the modern or contemporary style garden, and it
can seem a home with tropicals or partnered with cactus,
agave, and rocks in the xeriscape.
the name suggests the sap from the leaves will suds up
as a soap substitute, but it is suggested to try
sparingly as too much can cause it to be an irritant. To
me, a plant producing a flower this gorgeous and
bringing in hummingbirds is a winner.
you get yours, youíll notice pups being formed that
can be used elsewhere or shared with friends and family.
Give me a call I may need some.