The famous Aloe vera plant garners all the attention, but there are hundreds of other plants in the Aloe genus that are every bit as beautiful for growing in the home.
From tiny but impressive lace aloe to the substantial snake aloe, which can grow three feet or more, there is a wide range of shapes and sizes that these plants can come in. They vary beyond the standard green hue familiar to Aloe vera, as well. Look for types that come in bright orange, red, yellow, blue, white, and even nearly black leaves.
Most aloes have toothed leaf margins, but some are smooth. Some are variegated, spotted, striped, or even feature a sort of ombre-like transition of color.
- Genus: Aloe
- Native To: Africa, Madagascar, Middle East
- Sun Exposure: Typically bright indirect or diffused light
- Soil Preference: Well-draining loam or bark and moss
- Soil pH: 7.0-8.5
- Blossom Color: White, cream, yellow, orange, red, purple
- Growing Zones: 6-12
- Toxicity: Mildly toxic if ingested
21 Aloe Species, Hybrids, and Cultivars:
Technically, there are hundreds of species in the Aloe genus and hundreds more hybrids and cultivars on top of that. That means there is a seemingly endless supply of aloe types out there.
Many of these are large and most suitable for growing outdoors. Others stay smaller and more compact, making them ideal for indoor growing. Some species are cold tolerant, growing outdoors down to Zone 6. Most prefer warmer climates.
Almost all aloes flower, but most won’t develop inflorescences when grown indoors unless they receive enough light.
Speaking of light, some aloes need bright sun, and some are fine in shadier areas. When we talk about full light or sun, that means at least six of direct sunlight per day. Partial sun or light means between 3-6 hours of direct light. Indirect light means that the plant should be within a few feet of a north-facing window or an east, west, or south-facing window covered in a sheer curtain.
In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the best aloe types for growing indoors, but keep in mind that there are many more types that outdoor gardeners should check out.
Lace aloe (A. aristata) is a tough little plant with stiff, succulent, emerald-green leaves speckled in raised white bumps. The margins are heavily toothed, and when they bloom, they produce reddish-orange flowers. It only grows about eight inches tall and six inches wide.
This plant was recently reclassified as Aristaloe aristata, but aloe lovers still claim it as one of their own. It looks extremely similar to zebra hawthoria (Haworthiopsis attenuata), and they’re often mistaken for one another.
They do best in moderate shade or bright, indirect light.
‘Blizzard’ stands out from other aloes with nearly white leaves speckled in irregular emerald green, nearly black horizontal stripes.
Some white aloes are more of a cream or pale green hue, but ‘Blizzard’ is true white. It flowers repeatedly throughout the year and sends up tall spikes of coral blossoms. The plant itself is petite, staying under eight inches tall.
Its small stature makes it perfect for a window, where it will receive the full sun that it craves.
Keep in mind that this plant is patented, which means you can’t legally propagate it.
Short-leaved aloe, as A. brevifolia is known, isn’t short on visual interest. This South African native has thick, squat leaves that can be solid green with a hint of blue or green with burgundy or orange tips. In full sun exposure, they take on an even more reddish-pink hue. The margins are toothed, and the leaves form a tight rosette that curls back on itself, creating a compact and colorful display.
The plants can grow up to two feet tall and wide and produce orange tubular flowers during the summer.
While theplants can tolerate less sun, the display won’t be as vibrant.
Snake aloe (A. broomii) can grow up to three feet tall and wide, but it stays more compact when grown in a container indoors. It grows even taller when in flower, with pale yellow inflorescences on a five-foot-tall spike.
The wide leaves are medium green with reddish-brown toothed margins. In four hours or more of light, older leaves might take on a reddish hue. Native to South Africa, it can tolerate a frost, meaning it’s fine against a single-pane window or near a door in your home.
Most people adore Elias Buhr’s aloe (A. buhrii) as an outdoor specimen because it grows extremely tall, colorful spikes of bright orange flowers. The rosette of leaves is equally as appealing, though, especially as a home decor element.
Place this plant in an area with full exposure and you might even get those three foot tall flower spikes. Even if you can’t provide full sun, it will grow well in partial light and may reach up to 18 inches tall and wide (twice that when grown outdoors).
The leaves are typically green, but they can take on a pale gray and orange hue.
A hybrid propagated by grower Kelly Griffin, ‘Christmas Carol’ is the progeny of ‘Doran Black’ and has some of the same characteristics.
It grows to about a foot tall with bright green leaves edged in coral teeth. The flat part of the leaves is covered in raised cream-colored bumps.
In full sun, it has dark pink blossoms, but this South African native will grow in darker areas but likely won’t bloom.
When viewed from above, it looks like a red and green star, which is where it obtained its festive name.
A. deltoideodonta hails from Madagascar, where it grows on rocky mountain slopes. The specific epithet refers to its many dull teeth that line the margins, but perhaps its most distinctive feature are the raised, white, vertical lines that appear on the wide, squat leaves. The tips of the plant might take on a rose or red hue.
This stemless aloe grows to about a foot tall and wide and while it doesn’t flower often, when it does, it sends up white, yellow, orange, or red flowers.
It can tolerate indirect light, but it won’t bloom unless it receives full light exposure. Don’t expose it to hot, afternoon sun.
Jeweled aloe (A. distans) is a cold-tolerant species down to 25°F that can grow up to ten feet wide but just a few feet tall. Of course, when kept in a container, it will stay more compact.
The thick, squat leaves are deep green with large cream teeth. The tips of the leaves can turn burgundy pink over time.
When it forms, the flower of this South African native is rosy pink.
This plant is extremely tolerant of a range of light exposure. It does well in full sun to light shade, though growth and color will be reduced in darker spaces.
‘Doran Black’ is a wildly popular aloe that can be found in many nurseries. The long, succulent leaves are green with rows of gray spots and speckles, and the leaves may or may not be tipped in peach. The fine toothing on the margins can also be peach or white. If the overall leaf begins to turn peach, it means that the plant isn’t receiving enough water.
The leaves tend to grow horizontally, but if you lift them up, you can see and feel the bumps that cover the back of the leaves.
The inflorescence is peach or rose in color and emerges out of the rosette of leaves that grows no more than 12 inches tall and wide.
The plant does well in full to partial sun exposure.
The striking sunset aloe (A. dorotheae syn. A. harmsii) almost looks like a spiky, orange octopus emerging from a container. This species stays low to the ground, rarely extending above a foot tall, but the leaves can grow up to two feet long, prostrate along the ground.
The leaves are glossy and range from green to red, but most have some variation with green, yellow, salmon, orange, and red hues. Typically, the green is at the base, transitioning to red at the tips, like the colors of a sunset.
The margins of the leaves are dotted with large, white teeth.
This Tanzania native will be more colorful in bright, direct sun, but they can grow in lower light. Just expect more green the darker the environment.
In enough light, the plant sends up a two-foot-tall orange inflorescence. Keep it in areas of your home that won’t drop lower than 50°F.
‘Firebird’ is an aloe hybrid with thin, narrow, dark green leaves. The margins are lined with small white teeth, and the surface of the leaves is dotted with flat white spots.
It’s named for its bright reddish-orange flower, which appears on the plant repeatedly throughout the year. It spreads readily, or you can keep the six-inch tall and wide plant solo in a small container. Place it in direct sun for the most impressive floral show.
A. hildebrandtii (syn. A. gloveri) is an ideal option for someone who is wanting an plant that grows more upright that many other aloes. While it will rarely grow taller than 18 inches tall indoors, its typically quite narrow, spreading only about foot wide.
The thick orange and green leaves are lined in orange teeth along the margins. The leaves grow along a stalk and the older leaves will sometimes drop from the plant, giving it the appearance of an unusual, alien-like tree.
It could be grown in a hanging basket or in a pot placed in partial to full light. In bright sun, the orange flower stalk will pop up in the winter.
Known as tiger tooth aloe (A. juvenna), it’s easy to see where the name comes from. The squat, triangular leaves are green or yellow and white with long, spiky teeth along the margins. Some leaves even have spikes on the flat leaf surfaces.
The stacked pillar of leaves grows to about eight inches tall. The plant can grow in partial light exposure with anything from three hours up. In brighter light, the plant will send up bright orange and red flower spikes that are twice as tall as the leaves. Avoid direct afternoon light, however.
While it looks similar to its cousin A. vera, karoo aloe (A. krapohliana) stands out because its much smaller. It only grows to about eight inches tall and wide. The leaves are pale gray-blue and thick, with random teeth dotted on the margins and back of the leaves.
This plant is a slow grower, so those who hate having to repot their plants each year can enjoy this one, as it takes up to five years to reach its full height.
In the winter, the plant will send up orange-red flowers, so long as you provide the plant the bright, full light that it craves.
Soap aloe (A. maculata) is native to South Africa and has gained popularity because of its blue-green leaves speckled in pale green spots. The edges of the leaves are heavily toothed and can take on a pale red hue.
At two feet tall and wide, it’s a substantial plant and even more so when it blooms with brilliant coral-red blossoms on three-foot spikes.
The plant needs at least four hours of direct light and can’t tolerate anything below 40°F, so keep them away from cold areas in your home.
At 12 inches tall and wide with brilliant green leaves, golden tooth aloe (A. nobilis) is eye-catching. It’s especially so when the heavily toothed margins and tips of the thick, pointed leaves turn bright red.
Not only does this South African native grow rapidly, but it puts out abundant offsets, meaning you have a steady supply of plants.
Look for the variegata variety, which has green vertical stripes that looks like they were applied with a paintbrush.
These plants do best with direct light for at least six hours per day, but they can tolerate less light.
Spiral aloe (A. polyphylla) is a favorite for a good reason. The heavily toothed, triangular leaves are evenly spaced and grow in a spiral pattern. Observed from above, the foliage creates a symmetrical pattern that looks so perfectly formed that it must have been built in a laboratory.
The color ranges from medium green to nearly blue, with rose red or yellow tips on the leaves.
The plant can grow orange inflorescences with enough light and can grows quickly, reaching up to a foot tall and two feet wide in just a few years.
Fairly cold tolerant, it can even endure a brief frost. In the home, give it partial sunlight.
A. striata, also known as coral aloe, is one of the more colorful options in the aloe world. The wide leaves narrow down to a pointed tip and have a grayish-green base. From the middle of the leaf and toward the pointed tip, the leaf gradually transitions to pale red. The smooth edges also have a pale red hue.
Look closely, and you’ll see the dark green stripes that run down the length of the leaf.
In enough sun, the plants can reach about two feet tall, with a three-foot-tall fiery red inflorescence.
‘Twilight Zone’ is a striking hybrid between A. haworthioidies and Gasteria carinata. Instead of exhibiting texture just along the leaf margins, the entire skin is textured. It has dark green, nearly black skin with white bumps in horizontal clusters.
The leaves grow upright to about 12 inches tall. Staring at them might transport you straight into a star-speckled twilight zone.
When in bloom, it has bright orange blossoms. This plant prefers partial light exposure. Avoid placing it in bright, direct light in the afternoon.
Tiger aloe was recently reclassified from A. variegata to Gonialoe variegata. Regardless, aloe lovers still consider it one of the aloe types, and it’s a favorite because of its spotted and speckled green and white leaves. In full exposure, it will develop tall orange flower spikes, but they will grow happily in less light.
The leaf margins have very fine, subtle toothing on wide, flat leaves, which are nested tightly together. This slow grower can reach up to two feet tall.
Don’t expose this plant to temperatures below 40°F.
Also classified as A. barbadensis, this is the plant most people probably picture when they imagine aloe. It’s the one we use to make the skin-soothing gel. It originated along the Arabian peninsula, but has spread around the world. It’s an extremely common houseplant.
The thick gray-green leaves are toothed and solid, though young plants might have white spotting. There is also a variety (A. vera var. chinensis) that has spotted leaves as a mature plant.
Outdoors, the plant grows about three feet tall and wide. Inside, it usually stays smaller due to reduced light exposure. Ideally, it should receive full exposure, but partial shade is acceptable.
The inflorescences are yellow.