Indigenous to South Africa and occurring in almost every part of our country, is the iconic Aloe arborescens.
Also known as the Krantz aloe, this species is a multi-headed shrub that can grow to a height of between 2 and 3 m with a similar spread. The leaves are fleshy, curved and tapering with toothed margins. The attractive blue-green colour of the leaves provide contrasting colour in the garden. Flowers are produced in winter and have a bright red to orange colour. The flower spikes tower above the plant, adding accent colour during the cold months of the year. The bell-like blooms have an abundance of nectar, attracting birds and insects.
The Kranz aloe is a fast grower that requires minimum maintenance. It is very drought hardy and can handle windy and hot conditions. Contrary to belief, this aloe is sensitive to cold conditions. The plant can withstand light morning frost and moderately cold, but prolonged, extreme cold and heavy frost is detrimental to its growth.
Historically, the aloe was planted around domestic animal enclosures to act as a living fence. Today it is used mainly as a decorative or accent plant, but can also be utilised to form a barrier or hedge.