Aloe helenae is one of the easiest succulents to grow and care for. This plant thrives on neglect – in fact, its leaves will turn brown and dry up if you water it too often! Despite that, aloe helenae makes an attractive and interesting addition to any home decor or landscaping.
Also known as red flower aloe, Aloe helenae is one of the most popular plants among succulent plant growers in the United States and Europe. These plants are relatively low maintenance, which makes them great for people with limited space or who don’t want to spend too much time tending to their gardens or houseplants.
While some aloe helenae care and tips are straightforward, such as how to properly water your aloe helenae and when to repot it, there are also some other little-known tips that you can use to care for your aloe helenae in an optimal way.
If you’re thinking about getting an aloe helenae plant, here are some tips to help you keep it healthy and happy in your home. With proper care, these plants can live for many years, which makes them great value for their price tag!
Origin and distribution
This succulent plant originates from Namaqualand in South Africa. It grows in dry and rocky areas where it is subjected to extreme temperatures. This plant has spread to other parts of South Africa, especially coastal areas, but is also grown as a houseplant worldwide.
According to an estimate by Schonnert (2001), over 80% of aloes are grown as ornamental plants and only 20% are used for medicinal purposes.
The distribution area of this aloe includes Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe in southern Africa; Mozambique and Tanzania in eastern Africa; Kenya and Uganda in central Africa; Madagascar; Mauritius; Comoros Islands; Socotra Island (Yemen); Oman; Pakistan; Arabian Peninsula including Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
In addition to these countries, Aloe vera is widely cultivated in tropical regions of Asia such as India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Malaysia. It can be found in Australia and New Zealand too.
Aloe helenae propagation
The propagation of Aloe helenae is easy and it’s a good idea to start early in order to have numerous specimens ready when flowering begins, usually between 2 and 3 years after germination. To propagate these succulents, divide up a clump or simply dig up a healthy offset and separate it from its parent plant.
The little plants can be potted individually in small pots using well-draining soil. It’s important to keep them warm during their first winter and make sure they don’t dry out completely. Water them only when they need it and let them rest through the summer months if possible.
After their first year, you should see some growth on your new baby aloes! And if you’re lucky, it will flower soon after. You can also take stem cuttings from mature aloes with ease but these will take longer to grow into mature plants. Keep your cuttings in water until roots form (about two weeks) then transplant them into the soil for long-term growing success.
Aloe helenae care information
Caring for Aloe helenae is simple. Plant your aloe in well-drained soil, as it does not tolerate wet feet. Water weekly in hot weather and monthly in cooler months; fertilize with a balanced fertilizer once a month from late winter to early summer.
The most important thing you can do for your aloe is to give it lots of sun—it thrives in full sun but will take some shade. If you live where temperatures get below freezing, bring plants indoors before nightfall and protect them from frost.
This plant is fairly easy to grow indoors as long as you keep it in a sunny area. Place your Aloe helenae where it can receive at least 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Consider using full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs if natural sunlight is not available.
If you’re growing your plant outdoors, place it in an area that gets plenty of sun all day long and doesn’t have any direct exposure to wind, which could dry out its leaves too quickly.
If you’re planting aloe in your garden, select a potting mix made for cacti and succulents. Avoid using soil straight from your garden or compost pile; it will hold too much moisture, causing root rot. You can also use an organic, lightweight soil blend like those sold at most garden centers.
If you plan to grow aloe indoors, make sure that your container has drainage holes at its base so excess water can escape. It’s best to plant aloe in a clay pot with drainage holes rather than plastic because clay absorbs and releases moisture more slowly than plastic does.
Give enough water to ensure that it stays moist but not wet. If your plant has a taproot, check every week or so to see if you need to add more water. Overwatering can be just as damaging as underwatering; both leave your plant susceptible to root rot and other infections. It’s better to under-water than over-water a plant, but either way may damage it eventually.
Fertilizing your aloe plant regularly is extremely important for ensuring that it grows well and remains healthy. The process of fertilization helps make sure that your plant has access to all of its nutrients and vitamins.
Fertilizing also stimulates growth and helps promote new blossoms on your plant. If you don’t fertilize often enough, your plant may grow slowly, or not at all.
I found that aloe helenae likes warm conditions (70 degrees and above) during its active growing cycle, which is when it’s producing flower stalks. My aloe helenae was happy as long as I kept it away from drafts.
However, I’ve read reports of people who had success keeping their plants indoors year-round at much cooler temperatures, although you may need to move your plant outside in summer if it grows too large for its pot.
The aloe plant requires high humidity and very little water to thrive. In its native habitat, it can survive year-round in arid environments with minimal rainfall, surviving dry periods as long as one month by absorbing moisture from dew and fog.
To mimic its native climate in your home or office environment, place your aloe plant on a small dish filled with gravel, which will hold water and allow for evaporation of extra moisture.
The ideal humidity range is between 40 and 60 percent. If your home’s humidity level is below 40 percent, you can raise it by using a humidifier or placing your aloe plant on a tray of wet pebbles. If your home’s relative humidity level is above 60 percent, consider moving your aloe plant to a room with better air circulation.
It’s also important to keep an eye on how much water you give your aloe plant.
To keep your aloe from outgrowing its pot, shear off some of its leaves with a sharp pair of scissors every four to six weeks. This will help keep it from getting leggy and will encourage new leaves to grow in nice and thick.
If you’re growing an aloe indoors, be sure to give it enough light—the more sun it gets, the more water and fertilizer it will need. If you’re growing an aloe outdoors, make sure that there’s plenty of sun but also protection from harsh winds or frost.
These plants are not very picky when it comes to soil type; they do best in soil that drains well but is still moist.
When to repot
Because it is not a fast-growing plant, you won’t need to repot it regularly. However, if you want your aloe to look great and be healthy for years to come, repotting every two or three years will help keep it in good shape.
The best time of the year to do so is during late winter/early spring when temperatures are moderate. When you’re repotting an aloe plant (or transplanting it into a larger pot), remember that less is more.
Depending on the climate, it spends much of its life cycle in a dormant state. During its dormant period, in autumn and winter, it loses its leaves and roots and produces a hard-outer shell with small corky projections. In early spring, it sprouts new leaves to prepare for summer.
Flowers & fragrance
Aloe helenae is more famous for its flowers than its gel, even though both are remarkably unique. The flowers themselves emit a heavy, perfume-like scent that is both unusual and relaxing.
It’s common to see people in South Africa rubbing or rolling their wrists with aloe perfume because of how quickly it alleviates stress. Another interesting feature of aloe is that it produces two different types of fragrances at once.
The growth rate of aloe plants is slow, but not as slow as other cacti. Once established, many aloes will only grow about a half-inch to an inch per year. If you’re looking for something that grows more quickly, consider a gasteria or living stones (lithops).
There are no reports of toxicity associated with Aloe helenae.
USDA Hardiness Zones
Aloe helenae will thrive in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. In colder climates, it can be grown as a houseplant.
Pests and diseases
Aloe helenae has a few natural enemies and pests including spider mites, mealy bugs, ants, leaf miners, and aphids. Treatments for these can be as simple as washing with water to dislodge some of these pests and also to drown them.
You can use an insecticidal soap (rinse afterward) or neem oil spray if you see ants or other insects on your plants. Spider mites are one of the most common pests that affect aloe helenae.
They look like tiny moving dots on leaves and stems, so it’s important to inspect your plant regularly for signs of infestation. Mites often appear in hot weather when humidity is high, so it’s best to keep your aloe houseplants out of direct sunlight during the summer months when temperatures soar.
You might think of an Aloe helenae as something you see growing in your local greenhouse or florist, but these succulents make great houseplants, too. This is especially true if you want a super easy-to-care-for (and forgiving) plant to brighten up your home.
The best part? They’re incredibly common; they grow like weeds, after all! That means that even if you kill one, it won’t be hard to find another one at your local nursery.