This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

March 1, 2013

Aloe in The Tropical Paradise

Using aloe in your tropical paradise is like planting palm trees. The common, cheap ones just end up growing too well, getting out of hand, and looking terrible. Mention aloe to people who have lived in the valley for a while, and they will picture the typical African Aloe that grows like a weed in front yards, clumps like crazy, and becomes a tangled mess which usually includes a lot of stray Bermuda grass growing all through it.

The trick to finding beautiful aloes, like this partridge breast aloe, is to steer clear of your local Home Depot and search out a real nursery, like Baker or Summer Winds. Don't get me wrong, Home Depot is a great place for lots of stuff, but not beautiful aloes and agaves.

To be fair to Home Depot, most people who go there want plants that grow fast to cover up an area. The aloes that I have planted here grow very slowly. They are practically little sculptures. And so the best way to display them is as if they were works of art.

The partridge breast aloe that Macintosh, the good little wiener dog, is looking at, came from a fellow member of The Arizona Palm and Cycad Association. I've seen them for sale, and they are pricey. My recommendation to you, since I don't have to pay for it, is to buy a nice big one. That's one of the drawbacks to planting beautiful miniature plants, they cost a bit. I've had this one here in my backyard for several years and it's doing fine. They need a bit of shade - don't plant them out in the "fires of hell"!

To really set off aloe, surround them with rocks. The idea is to make them look as if they grew naturally around the rocks, which is how they grow in the wild. They make a wonderful compliment to miniature palms and cycads, and also look good with agaves.

By the way, the green clump behind and to the right of the partridge breast aloe is Haworthia, which has also done well here at The Tropical Paradise. And yes, that is a trilobite up front.
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