How to Grow Jewel Aloe

A Low, Sprawling and Interesting Succulent Perfect for Dry, Hot Gardens

Close up image of the Jewel Aloe (Aloe distans) plant

Krzysztof Golik / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

 

Jewel aloe (Aloe distans) is a low-growing, evergreen aloe variety which has distinctive jagged teeth along the edge of the triangular leaves.

The waxy succulent foliage can change from blue-green to pink and purple tones depending on how much sunlight they receive.

The tubular flowers which bloom in shades of yellow, orange and red will add a burst of interesting color to your garden in the summer, and their nectar is attractive to pollinators.

Sprawling jewel aloes grow well as decorative ground cover in dry, Mediterranean-style climates. It's a great choice for adding to a spacious rock garden, it can add interest to edges, and it grows well in containers indoors. Mature specimens can spread upwards of five feet across.

Some gardeners use it for mass ground cover, and others keep it contained in a clumping form that can be mixed in with cacti and other drought-tolerant species. It's a hardy and forgiving plant that's resistant to most diseases and doesn't require a lot of maintenance.

The main care requirement, as with all succulents, is to make sure you don't overwater your jewel aloe. Providing your garden is dry, warm, gets plenty of sunlight, and the soil is well-drained, it should thrive.

Jewel aloe is often considered to be a coastal form of Aloe mitriformis, which is native to the South African mountains. Sometimes the two are categorized together under the botanical name Aloe perfoliata.

The leaves and stems of the jewel variety, however, are more elongated, aren't as vigorous, and they often have old dry foliage on their stems. Plus the teeth on the jewel variety tend to be more yellow than on the mitriformis. Unsurprisingly, this is why it's also sometimes called Golden Tooth aloe.

Botanical Name Aloe distans
Common Name Jewel aloe
Plant Type Succulent, cactus
Mature Size Up to 1 inch tall and 2 inches wide
Sun Exposure Full sun, partial sun
Soil Type Loamy, sandy, well-drained
Soil pH Acid, neutral, alkaline
Bloom Time Summer
Flower Color Yellow, Orange, Red
Hardiness Zones 9 - 11, USDA
Native Area South Africa
Jewel Aloe close up of the flowers
Miwasatoshi / Wikmedia Commons / GNU Free Documentation License
Jewel Aloe Plant on bark chips
Krzysztof Golik / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Plant Care

Providing you can offer the right conditions, jewel aloe is an easy to grow and low-maintenance succulent.

It won't thrive in humid, wet, temperate environments. Instead, it's best suited to dry, hot climates where it can be planted in a well-drained soil that receives plenty of sunlight.

Light

Your jewel aloe needs to be planted where it'll receive lots of sunlight. Although they can survive in partial shade, consistently bright conditions ensure the leaves remain at their most interesting and colorful.

Shade results in whiter teeth and greener foliage. Full sun turns the teeth bright yellow, and the leaves take on bronze and purple shades.

Soil

Sandy, rocky soils and potting mediums are best for jewel aloe plants. They have a preference for alkaline pH levels but do fine in neutral soils too. The key is that it's well-drained.

Water

Jewel aloes, like other succulent varieties, can't tolerate standing water. You should be careful not to overwater them, or they'll develop root rot.

Once established, the plant is drought-tolerant, but during their growing season, modest watering is beneficial—just make sure the soil has an opportunity to fully dry in-between times.

When the plant is dormant, watering should be done very sparingly, once every couple of months is often more than enough.

Temperature and Humidity

Although jewel aloe does best in warmer, coastal climates (around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit), seeing it isn't planted in a humid or overly rainy region, it's known to be surprisingly frost hardy. Enthusiasts have reported it can handle temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizer

During the summer months, when your Jewel Aloe is growing, it'll appreciate being fed with a fertilizer designed specifically for cacti. It won't, however, need any additional feeding during its winter dormancy.

Propagating Jewel Aloe

Succulents are super easy to propagate from offset cuttings, and the jewel aloe is no exception. It also germinates well from seed provided it's sown into a well-drained medium and it has sufficient warmth.

Potting and Repotting Jewel Aloe

Aloes aren't known for being fast growers. Because of this, you shouldn't have to repot container-grown jewel aloe regularly. You should only consider it if they're becoming too heavy and tipping their existing container, or if they're no longer growing.