Garden Aloes

Aloe ciliaris

Also Known As: Climbing Aloe, Aloiampelos ciliaris

Category: Climbing Aloes

USDA Hardiness Zones: 9b - 11


Aloiampelos ciliaris, formerly known as Aloe ciliaris, (also known as the 'Climbing Aloe') is a thin, tough, rapidly growing succulent plant with many long semi-woody stems to 30 feet long that tend to scramble upward, often spiralling as it climbs. The Climbing Aloe is native to South Africa and is said to be the fastest growing of all Aloes.


Aloe ciliarus grows very quickly, producing long, thin, untidy stems that shoot upwards, producing large, bright orange-red flowers once they reach the sun. It can be differentiated from other Aloiampelos species by the way that the soft, white, hair-like teeth (ciliaris), that grow along the margins of the leaves, extend all the way around the stem, at the base of the leaf. Their recurved, leathery leaves act as hooks, allowing the plant to anchor itself in the thick vegetation. The leaf sheaths are conspicuously striped green and white. The rather soft leaves are arranged spirally, and are mostly crowded at the ends of the branches. If there are no nearby trees to act as host and support, it just forms a straggly shrub. This is the fastest growing of all aloes and their relatives. It can reach 8 to 12 feet in height and needs the support of another plant or a trellis for climbing. Roots are shallow, fleshy and about 5 mm in diameter, radiating from the swollen base. Stems lying on the ground will root.


Bright orange tubular flowers on tall spikes appear almost throughout the year but with a peak in late winter and early spring. The unbranched 6-12 inch long inflorescences rise vertically from near the tips of the branches and bare inch long tubular flowers with yellow tips that dangle downwards. Flowers are interesting as they are bright yellow inside, but orange outside. The oblong fruiting capsule is about 18 mm (3/4 inch) long.

Origin / History

While Aloiampelos ciliaris was originally indigenous to the dry thicket vegetation of the South African Eastern Cape, this adaptable species has been widely introduced and currently occurs across much of South Africa. The name 'ciliaris' pertains to its marginal teeth arranged like an eyelash and extending right around the base of the leaf. Aloe ciliaris var. ciliaris was first collected in 1813 in the Port Alfred District by William John Burchell (1781-1863), a British explorer and naturalist, and was named by the British botanist Adrian Hardy Haworth (1767-1833) in 1825. Introduced into cultivation in 1821 by Kew botanist and plant collector James Bowie (1789-1869). It was introduced into cultivation in Santa Barbara, California in 1908 by Dr. Francesco Franceschi.

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Care / Cultivation

The Climbing Aloe prefers full sun, and like most succulents is drought tolerant but Aloe ciliaris will also grow well in high rainfall regions, where they should be planted in a well-drained spot. Easy to control, so wouldn't actually say it's invasive, but it can cover other stuff up if you let it. It is not shy to flower and thrives on organic food such as compost. A. ciliaris is more lush and green with irrigation but plants in un-irrigated sites take on a nice chocolate brown color. They grow very easily from cuttings.

Frost Tenderness

Protect from frost. Aloe ciliaris is not considered to be a very cold tolerant but it has survived temps to the upper 20's F. When damaged by heavier frost it melts in a dramatic fashion.

Use in the Garden

This is a great aloe used as a rambling ground-cover or as a vine with some support - very nice running up a large palm. Makes a good hedge. It is best planted at the base of a shrubbery or fence. It will soon climb to the canopy and produce its handsome flowers. It also thrives in containers, but needs support for its weak stems. If given space and time, stems lying on the ground will root and a rounded mound will form. Outdoors in its native South African climate it will branch and climb like a vine, growing into a medium-sized shrub, Aloe ciliaris will, however, stay small in a pot if grown indoors.

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The information on this page about Aloe ciliaris has been gathered and summarized from the sources below. Visit these pages to learn more.

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