Aloe ferox ‘JL’ | ‘Bitter Aloe’, ‘Cape Aloe’, ‘Red Aloe’ | 25 seeds
Aloe ferox (syn. Aloe galpinii, Aloe horrida) is a beautiful tree-like example of the Aloe genus which is native to southern Africa. An impressive member of the family Asphodelaceae, this fast-growing succulent is most often known as the ‘Bitter Aloe’, but is also called the ‘Cape Aloe’, ‘Red Aloe’ and ‘Tap Aloe’. The type we’re listing here is the ‘JL’ collection, originating from renowned cactus and succulent authority Joël Lodé.
A quite variable, single-stemmed species which reaches up to approximately three-and-a-half metres tall, ferox sports thick, fleshy blue-green leaves with roughly six millimetre, brown-red spines. As is typical to many species of the Aloe genus, these fleshy leaves are arranged in rosettes. Striking scarlet-orange-gold, multi-branched candelabra-form flower clusters (up to roughly seventy-five centimetres long) appear mid-winter. These prove very attractive to birds and insects.
The plant’s wide natural range demonstrates its proclivity for dry and tropical climates, where it prefers to grow in loamy-sandy soils on rocky hills and grassy ‘fynbos’ (a type of shrub-land habitat peculiar to South Africa’s Eastern and Western Cape provinces). It’s leaves are the source for a gel which is used in the cosmetics industry, and (alongside those of several related species) are also used to make the purgative ‘Bitter Aloe’.
Aloe ferox can be easily propagated from either seed or cuttings, ideally in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11. Sow the seed in full sun in mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil, watering regularly in moderate amounts. It’s quite a drought-tolerant plant due to its origins in Africa, but still requires decent drainage. Space young plants at least one metre apart to ensure they have enough room to reach maturity without crowding.
An absolutely fantastic succulent species which deserves a place in any home or garden!
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced in 2018