Also Known As: Sunset Aloe, Aloe harmsii
Category: Red Aloes
USDA Hardiness Zones: 10a - 11
OverviewAloe dorotheae is a gorgeous, suckering, stemless aloe for landscaping in a warm climate and probably the most reliably red aloe whose normal coloration in shade is a bright green with spots. Also known as the 'Sunset Aloe' it is vigorous, clumping succulent that produces lots of offsets around its base on short stems to 10 inches that lie flat to the ground. Reaching 2' wide by 1' tall after about two years of growth.
DescriptionA smaller clumping aloe, growing to just over a foot tall. Virtually stemless or very shortly stemmed. In a spiralled rosette, tapering, lanceolate, recurving, that in time of drought it tends to curl in on themself. The stiff, glossy leaves are colored lime green to bright orange red often with some white spotting when young and conspicuous spines along the margins. It has a green base color, but will flush a bright, glossy red when moderately stressed by full sun, drought. Color is best in full sun. The leaves in younger plants tend to have numerous elongated white spots scattered on the smooth surface, but these seem to fade with age.
FloweringIn mid to late winter to early spring a 1 to 2 foot flower spike (usually unbranched) rises above the foliage with dark flower buds that have green at the tips and open to show salmon-orange colored flowers with greenish-yellow tipped petals. Flowering times vary and some plants flower multiple times throughout the year.
Origin / HistoryAloe dorotheae is native to northeastern Tanzania, where it is found on rocky ground above 600 m and is critically endangered by habitat loss to agriculture. Found originally near the south bank of the Pangani River and transferred as a live plant in 1890 to the Royal Botanic Garden in Berlin where it was described by Alwin Berger, who noted that the name honored a Miss Dorthy Westhead of London.
Care / CultivationPlant in full sun to light shade (color much better in sun) and water occasionally to very little. Easy to grow, requiring very little care. It tolerates weekly watering in the summer; once a month, or not at all in the colder months of December and January. Can withstand long periods of drought, but they will thrive and flower more profusely if watered in the correct season. Incorrect watering, poor drainage or too much shade can lead to attack by pests and diseases. This is a very aggressive and easy to grow aloe in clay soils, or more well draining ones. Very easy to grow from cuttings.
Frost TendernessThere are various reports on hardiness but it seems that this aloe should be listed as hardy no lower than 28°F and possibly slightly higher.
Use in the GardenIn mild climates Aloe dorotheae can be cultivated outdoors for use in landscaping, preferably planting it in hot and dry rock gardens. Excellent on patio or as landscape or rock garden subject. This is a great aloe for rocky, exposed areas of the garden where you want some non-green color. Excellent for massing in water-wise garden beds. Great accent or large container specimen. A striking splash of color in the drought tolerant garden.
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