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What Is a Soap Aloe?

The sap of soap aloe leaves can serve as a fragrant substitute for bath soap.
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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 22 October 2014
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Soap aloe plants, which belong to the Liliaceae family, fall into the category of groundcover plants. Also known as African aloe, these particular plants feature rosette-style leaves with flowers that bloom in the spring. They also grow well in sunny, arid climates with cool-to-hot temperatures. Propagation of soap aloe is usually done with seeds and plant division. Soap aloe garden plants can provide landscaping as well as cosmetic uses.

Groundcover plants from the Liliaceae, or lily, family may also be identified as Aloe maculata and Aloe saponaria. African aloe is another name for the plants, as they are native to Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Best known as groundcovers under palm trees, soap aloe grows with evergreen foliage that sometimes feature white spots. Starting in the spring season and continuing through summer, soap aloe plants bloom tube-shaped flowers available in coral, red, orange or yellow colors. The flower stalks grow to an average height of approximately 2 feet (approximately 0.6 m), and the leaf margins develop spiny, brown spikes or teeth that can snag materials or pierce skin.

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African aloe garden plants tolerate drought conditions, although they require watering to ensure that the leaves and flowers remain lively and green. They should be planted in sandy soil that provides decent drainage. Natural rainfall provides their main source of water. Additional watering may be necessary, especially during hot summer seasons and dry spells to prevent the leaf tips from wilting or turning brown. Full-time sunlight and some occasional shade also foster the growth of these plants.

Like most other types of lily plants and other plant species, propagation of soap aloe may be accomplished with seeds or plant division. Gardeners may gather the seeds formed on the flower buds to be dispersed for planting. It is also appropriate to divide the plants' rhizomes or bulbs, then plant them into the soil when temperatures rise to at least 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius)or higher. As for maintenance, old flower stalks should be removed from the planting area to prevent disease or to keep away pests.

Soap aloe plants present attractive flowers as well as other varied features. Hummingbirds are usually drawn to the plants because of the flowers and the sap they produce. In turn, the sap of soap aloe leaves serve as a fragrant substitute for bath soap. Furthermore, the aloe garden plants find compatibility when planted in cactus, rock, or seaside gardens.

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