The Architectural Aloe Tree

Aloe barberae syn. Aloe bainesii

The Aloe tree, Aloe barberae syn. bainesii is a slow growing tree that matures into a striking landscape centerpiece. The heavy gray trunk and branches grow in an upright habit to a height of 30 feet or more in warm areas.

Aloe tree growing at the Huntington Botanical Garden.

Aloe barberae growing at the Huntington Botanical Garden.

Young Aloe tree plants usually grow as a tuft of succulent leaves atop a single stem until they are about 10 feet tall.

Then they begin to branch.

Aloe tree trunk detail.

At the tip of each branch, another tuft of recurved leaves will form creating a neat, rounded crown.

These trees are grown for their architectural form. That they produce large, showy flowers is an added bonus.The pink or orange tubular flowers appear in clusters on stiff stalks held above the leaves during the winter months.Aloe barberae, also called Aloe bainesii, is the largest of Africa’s 350 Aloe species.It thrives in cultivation in tropical and subtropical climates.Reliably hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11, it is sometimes grown into zone 9b by adventurous gardeners who don’t mind taking a risk.There is some evidence that, like many other tender trees,

Tree Aloe gains greater cold tolerance as it matures.

Cover the tree during frosts while it is small enough to do so.

The trees are widely grown in Southern California and survive temperatures as low as 25 degrees F. in that climate. At this temperature some leaf damage is to be expected. With good care and plenty of summer heat, the tree will usually recover.

An Aloe tree will grow at a snail’s pace unless it is watered regularly. If you want it to put on size quickly, water it. When you feel its big enough and you want to slow it down, don’t.

In either event, keep it drier during the winter.

Quiver Tree (Aloe Dichotoma) and Flowering Daisies in Spring, Namaqualand
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Tree Aloe doesn’t want much food. Avoid planting it in a bed with heavy feeders. Plant it in well composted, fast draining soil and top dress it with compost in place of fertilizer. Give it lots of space as the main trunk can become massive with age. Keep it well away from the foundation of any building.

To increase your collection, plant the seeds which follow the flowers or take stem cuttings.

To use seed:Bag the flower heads so that the ripe seed will fall into the bag.Break the dry pods open to collect the seed.Sow indoors before the last frost. It is best not to store the seed.

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