A member of the lily family, aloe includes 300 species growing as native plants in Africa, Madagascar and Arabia. The list of aloe species ranges from narrow-leaved grass types to many that grow as thick, wide clumps and a few that grow as large trees. Most aloe species grow in climates where frost seldom occurs, requiring partial sun and well-drained soil.
Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)
One of the more commonly known aloes, aloe vera works well for medicinal purposes, helping to explain why some people know the plant as medicinal aloe. Aloe vera grows in hardiness zones 9 to 10, preferring well-drained soil but tolerating poor soil and dry conditions. The gel inside the leaves helps treat burns.
Tree Aloe (Aloe arborescens Mill.)
Tree aloe, also known as candelabra aloe thanks to the plant's yellow or red flower spikes, grows up to 15 feet in height. The tree originates in the mountains of coastal southern Africa. The drought-tolerant plant prefers afternoon shade in hardiness zones 9 to 11, preferring temperatures that rarely drop below 50 degrees F.
Bontaalwyn (Aloe grandidentata Salm-Dyck)
Growing to 10 inches in diameter, Bontaalwyn aloe grows in central South Africa. The plant features tubular red flowers appearing in late winter and spring. Bontaalwyn grows in hardiness zones 9 to 11, preferring full sun and well-drained soil. In the winter when temperatures cool down, the plant requires less water.
Blue Aloe (Aloe glauca var. glauca Mill)
Blue aloe comes from the western Cape of South Africa where the plant grows up to 16 inches in height. The plant sports clusters of tubular red flowers. It thrives in hardiness zones 9 to 12, preferring drier conditions in the summer as long it receives partial shade during the hottest part of the day.
Spider Aloe (Aloe humilis Mill)
Spider aloe grows up to 8 inches wide, growing in hardiness zones 9 to 11. The plant originates in South Africa, featuring stemless rosettes that produce large scarlet flowers measuring up to 1.6 inches in length that bloom in late winter or spring. The drought-resistant plant prefers full sun, although light shade helps the plant survive hot conditions.
Soap Aloe (Aloe maculata [Aiton] Haw
Also known as zebra aloe thanks to its striped leaves, soap aloe grows in hardiness zones 9 to 11. The plant grows from the Eastern Cape province of South Africa to Zimbabwe. The plant features short but wide-clumping rosettes that grow up to 18 inches in height and nearly as wide. In early spring and summer, soap aloe sports orange flowers. The plant thrives in full to partial sun in well-drained soil. Soap aloe's gel is not recommended for burns or sunburn since it tends to irritate the skin.