Aloe and Temperature Tolerance

johnorangeNovember 18, 2013

A friend gave me this aloe plant about 6 months ago and I planted it here on the south side of my house where it gets several hours of direct sunlight a day and is shaded the rest of the day by the AC unit and the house. The soil is sandy but I get about 50 inches of rain a year. It has done really well and I removed some of the larger pups several weeks ago. Now (previous to this photo) it is sending up a shoot to flower! Hopefully it will flower before we get a hard freeze. We seldom get temperatures in the 20s so I think I can keep it here through the winter rather than digging it up and potting it. Just how low can an aloe plant go before it freezes?

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That particular one will not handle it below the freezing point. If kept very very dry, it might take 31F for a little bit of time, but don't expect miracles. Some of the species here have been below freezing for a few hours, but I have found that the Aloe vera and the common hybrid from it, the Chinese Aloe, were real wooses when it comes to cold.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 5:30PM
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TT, zone 5b MA

I have not tested these to this extent myself, but this list is always fun to look at.


Here is a link that might be useful: Hardy aloes

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 10:56PM
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Thanks for the guidance. I may have another issue for this plant in this location. My AC unit is a heat pump so it will be circulating air during the winter and the unit will get colder than the outside air. Sounds like I should pot this plant for the winter. That will also give me an opportunity to separate the pups.

Dzit, I guess I really don't even know what "particular one" I have. Is it Aloe vera? I always called it Aloe vera but haven't read up on the different species.

Here is a recent photo with the bloom shoot.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Could it be a maculate (spotted) Aloe or is it Aloe vera 'chinensis' gone wild? A picture of the open flowers might be key to IDing it. If you keep it very dry and covered on the extra-cold nights, it might make it, but yes, it will do better out of there in winter.

That's a great shot of The Puppiferousness of Aloes, a painting I plan to commission when the funds are there.

This post was edited by cactusmcharris on Tue, Nov 19, 13 at 11:51

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Well now there is a word I have never seen. Puppiferousness.
Here is the back side which showed most of the pups before I transplanted some to pots for family members.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 1:57PM
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Central_Cali369(Sunset Z9, Fresno, CA)

They will fare better in low temperatures if they are kept on the drier side. My garden receives no water from September until our first rain which usually happens in late Nov, and my Aloe Barbariensis (which is what I believe you have there,) always gets mushy leaf ends during our 9b winter. They will grow out of the damaged leaves quickly as soon as the weather warms though.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 2:45PM
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If you are truly zone 9 that plant might be OK, though planting nearer a warm structure (like a wall or the house) or under a tree would help preserve it's life should get a particularly cold winter. I had over 450 species of aloes outdoors in my yard the year we got down to 24F for about 7 hours and some of them got damaged (though the vast majority did not). Only a few get severely injured and one or two actually died. Aloes (most) can handle temps below 32 fairly easily... 28F rarely did anyone any damage, but a few species always suffered a bit... and the flowers were by far the more sensitive structures... a lot of aloes were undamaged at 28 and below but nearly all the flowers were lost. Several days in mid to high 20s would probably have a lot more devastating effect... but so far I have not experienced that yet (live in a new climate now where I expect that freeze occurrence will be the norm rather than the exception).

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 3:58PM
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Oh, I'm in zone 8, not 9....near Beaumont, Texas. We usually get a few nights that go into the mid to upper 20's for a few hours. Unfortunately, I can't control the water this one gets except maybe by covering it during rains. I looked barbariensis up on the table Tom provided a link to, and ,alas, it isn't on the cold hardy list. I'll try to leave this plant alone until it flowers and then either transplant it or its pups for indoor preservation. I hate to loose the huge leaves and would like to be able to use them in a healthy shake or something if they are going to freeze anyway.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 4:19PM
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There is no recognized "Aloe Barbariensis". If one was thinking of Aloe barbadensis, this is often seen as a synonym of A. vera, but with white flowers or something like that. Just being picky, but we don't want wrong names popping up too often. Spelling counts when dealing with plant names.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 8:19PM
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Dzitm, thanks for the correction. Spelling is always important. I guess we will wait for the flower to mature. I just hope it's red!

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 9:12AM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

My ex-neighbor in the central west Austin area had a large patch of YELLOW blooming A. barbadensis under a tree facing west. It grew there for years. Sometimes he threw a sheet over it. Many blooms every year. His was on a clay bank with years and years of oak mulch worked into the soil. I had one out here , obtained from him, in colder hill country and it is coming back from the deep roots from a 13F freeze, a couple of years ago. It was un effected by the 24 that we had last winter. It too is under a tree. They are more tender than A. grandidentata and A. maculata who came back the first year after the BIG FREEZE. . My soil is free draining limestone with oak mulch.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 11:36AM
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Actually the accepted name is Aloe vera, with barbadensis being a synonym.... might as well use the proper name since that is the everyone is familiar with anyway. Aloe vera is one of the more cold tolerant aloes in my garden. However, your plant does not look like a typical Aloe vera, which is a much greyer plant... but it still could be one... perhaps not getting much sun? They do look a lot greener when grown in shade. Here in So California, the only time of year it rains is when its 'freezing' cold, so, at least in my experience, water/wetness make no difference when it comes to cold hardiness. All my aloe damage and losses in winter have been from dry, still, super cold nights, not ones with rainfall.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 12:05PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Thank You for clearing that up. I always thought it was the reverse. I have always discriminated between barbadensis and chinensis and I used the names that showed the difference. I guess I will change and use the Aloe vera and use it as using var chinenses afterwards. Would one say Aloe vera var barbidensis or is it just Aloe vera? Many newbies to the aloe world see Aloe vera as meaning Aloe vera chinensis.

This post was edited by wantonamara on Wed, Nov 20, 13 at 19:21

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 1:06PM
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The real Aloe vera flowers are yellow - the pretenders are orange.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Not sure there are officially varieties of Aloe vera. As mentioned, many of the plants we are growing as Aloe veras are skinny, spotted or intensely suckering plants with orange flowers. I am not sure it has been worked out what exactly those plants are, but at this time, they are not considered Aloe veras, though they are a very closely related plant.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 5:51PM
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What you're referring to is generally known as Aloe vera 'chinensis', although I'm not sure that's a validly published name, unlike Aloe vera. I agree there aren't official varieties of it, as there is only one Aloe vera, AFAIK, and then the thousands of wannabes.

This post was edited by cactusmcharris on Wed, Nov 20, 13 at 23:34

    Bookmark   November 20, 2013 at 8:38PM
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greyghost61(8b SoWeGa)

I live in GA zone 8b and I have those growing in my yard in both protected and unprotected areas.....they survive our freezes with the most damage being the tips will get burned at times. Our winters are generally wet with a few nights a year down into the mid ot lower 20s with a rare one for a few hours below 20.....never had one die all the way back, I haven't bothered protecting them in years and they just keep on growing, pupping and blooming....I have seen them growing on old lots where houses once were and they would take over certain parts of the lot.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2013 at 7:30PM
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Thanks everyone for the discussion on aloe identification...and my original question about cold-hardiness. I'll post a photo when it finally blooms....can't believe it's taking this long! We had three nights in the upper 20's so that surely slowed down its maturation. I covered it with a tarp and it still looks very healthy.
(tapping feet impatiently) It's also true that watched flower buds never bloom!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 2:26PM
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Cold temperatures often kill off the blooms even though they may not be cold enough to damage the plant itself... good luck

    Bookmark   December 2, 2013 at 9:48PM
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