Aloe ferox

bitter aloe
Tree aloe with single trunk and chunky rosette produces orange-red winter flowers loved by hummingbirds. Container gem.
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height 4–10ft
width 2–4ft
tolerates Coast, Cool Summers, Drought, Deer , Gophers, Heat, Narrow Planting, Pots, Rooftops, Neglect, Salt, Wind
Aloes thrive on neglect, making them one of the easiest garden plants for California. They are drought-tolerant, and this one will not need additional water once established in your garden. Most aloes will be plump with many bright vibrant blue or green leaves during their growth season. It’s natural for these same plants to show stress during their dry season, often turning shades of red, orange or brown, giving added seasonal interest to the succulent garden. During this time the leaves will curl in on themselves, and often shrivel up and shed from the base. If you prefer a lush look, watering once dry will keep them plump. Avoid overhead watering in the crown; when water collects there, it may lead to crown rot.
exposure Part Sun – Full Sun
drainage In Ground: Cactus Mix, In Pots: Cactus Mix, Tolerates Sandy Soil
fertilizing All Purpose 1/2 Strength, Low Needs
origin S South Africa

Sunset Zones Map

Outdoor Exposure Guide


Full Sun
Six or more hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Shade
Three to five hours of sun beams directly landing on the plant's leaves.

Part Sun
One to two hours of sun beams directly landing on the plants leaves.

Full Shade
The plant is never fully lit by sun beams, but is in a bright spot or has dappled sunbeams playing over the leaves throughout the day.

Deep Shade
The plant never has dappled light on the leaves, and is in a place that feels dim, even on a nice sunny day.


Growing Notes

Aloe ferox will retain the dried lower leaves to create an armed ‘beard’ or ‘skirt’ that helps defend the plant from predation. If you prefer, this beard may be removed by roughly snapping off old leaves. This is an aesthetic consideration that won’t affect the plant either way. Leaving the dead lower leaves from the beginning can create a picturesque natural look.
Once the flower stalks are completely bloomed out and dry, they will come out with a light tug, or can be pruned off low in the crown.
Once it’s mature you can cut the head off this plant, with a couple feet of trunk, and plant it. Wait two weeks and then water and it will establish. The bottom trunk will then send out multiple new heads.

Special Interest

Most aloes are not medicinal, but this one is! Apply the inner gel of the leaves as you would Aloe vera (barbadensis).

Hummingbirds love aloes, many of which are pollinated by birds in their native habitat.

Excellent choice for the fire suppression garden, where the beard should be removed.

More Info

The amazing photo of this plant in habitat, on the Wild Coast of South Africa, was taken by our staff member Tyson Curtis.