Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe ‘Blue Elf’)
Santa’s elves may be all about snowmen and sleigh rides, but here’s an elf that likes things warmer—much warmer. Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe “Blue Elf’) is an outstanding little hybrid aloe that’s not only stunning to look at, but remarkably durable. It’s often used as a landscape plant in locations so sunny and hot that other plants, even other aloes, shrivel up like raisins (Say, Phoenix, Arizona). But it also makes an incredibly satisfying tropical houseplant.
The first thing you’ll notice when you lay your eyes upon Blue Elf Aloe is its thick, blade-shaped, and slightly twisted leaves. Up to 6” long and 1” wide, they’re an arresting blue-gray in color and edged with widely-spaced, almost tooth-like spines. Moreover, especially when kept outdoors, Blue Elf Aloe is known to send up spikes of tube-shaped, red-orange flowers from early spring through summer—much to the delight of the local hummingbirds.
Best of all, you don’t need to be a green-thumb garden master to enjoy all that Blue Elf Aloe has to offer. Just give it as much light as you can, from full sun to partial shade / medium light, and make sure you give it a deep drink when it gets dry—but never allow it to sit in soggy soil—and your job is mostly done. Blue Elf is comfortable at any indoor temperature, has virtually zero pest or disease problems, and doesn’t even need humidity or fertilizer. It’s even easy to propagate.
Want a ruggedly beautiful tropical succulent that’s great for beginners and seasoned plant lovers alike? Forget holiday sweaters and fancy TVs—ask Santa for a Blue Elf.
Characteristics and traits of a Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe ‘Blue Elf’)
- Scientific Name: Aloe ‘Blue Elf’
- Genus: Aloe
- Family: Asphodelaceae (Subfamily Asphodeloideae, Tribe Aloeae)
- Common Name: Blue Elf Aloe, California Aloe (Not Aloe ‘California’, which is a different plant), Blue Boy Aloe (shared with other aloes),
- Indoor: Year ‘round at any temperature above freezing
- Outdoor Zones: 9-12
- Type: Perennial succulent; best propagated via division.
- Mature Height: 12”-24”
- Mature Width: 12”-24”
- Plant Height when Shipped: XXXXXX
- Growth Rate: Slow for most plants, medium-fast for a succulent
- Flower: Rare when indoors - one or more spikes topped with numerous inch-long tubular coral-orange flowers.
- Foliage: Fleshy, blade-shaped 6” leaves of light, chalky bluish-green with chunky spines along the leaf edges.
Plant Care and Advice for Blue Elf Aloe
- Grown In: Inside: all zones year round, Outside: zones 9-12
- Light Requirements: Full sun to part shade / medium light
- Water Requirements: Water deeply when soil is dry—every 2-4 weeks in spring/summer and less during winter—then let drain completely.
- Drought Tolerance: Excellent
- Temperature: Happy at any indoor temperature. Outdoors, does best at temps above 50°F, but tolerant of temporary exposure down to 20°F.
- Air Purification: Good
- Toxicity: Not listed as toxic
- Fertilizer: Not needed, but if desired, offer succulent or cactus mix at half strength once in spring and again in summer.
- Container Friendly: Yes - with proper drainage
- Planting: Like most cacti and succulents, Blue Elf Aloe grows slowly and doesn’t mind being a bit pot bound. When you do repot it, it’s crucial that you choose a fast-draining soil to prevent root rot. A pre-mixed cactus or succulent soil is a fine choice, or you can create your own mix of potting soil and coarse sand or perlite mixed at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. Similarly, choose a pot with a drainage hole to be sure your Blue Elf Aloe is never left sitting in soggy soil. Repotting is best done in the spring or summer, when the plant will have time to grow into its new space before going dormant. It’s also a great time to separate any pups, or offsets, into their own pots.
- Plant Care: Blue Elf Aloe has a reputation as a tough, remarkably easy-to-care-for plant, and that reputation is well deserved. Indoors, you’ll see the best performance in full sun, though it can also handle bright indirect and even medium light. It’ll just be a bit shorter and greener. Outdoors, this is a full sun plant even in locations like Phoenix, Arizona, where the combination of unrelenting sun and oppressive heat, including reflected heat, quickly turns most plants brown. But again, it doesn’t require full sun, and can handle partial shade as well. Temperature is barely a concern with Blue Elf Aloe. Indoors, if you’re comfortable, so is the plant. Outdoors, it can handle tremendous heat, but also proves tolerant of cooler temperatures. We’d recommend bringing it in when temps start dropping below 45°F, but it can shake off cold snaps down to 20°F. Water-wise, Blue Elf Aloe does well with a “drench and dry” cycle in spring and summer. Give it a generous drink, then let the soil drain completely and dry to a depth of at least 2”-4” before watering again, even if it takes weeks to get there. In the fall and winter when the plant goes dormant, reduce amount and frequency water even further (once a month).
- Expert Advice: Although it is incredibly unlikely, it is technically possible to give Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ too little water. When this happens, the leaves will become flaccid and turn reddish-purple. However, the leaves can also take on a pink/red/brown hue when subjected to extreme temperatures and other stresses. As such, if Blue Elf’s leaves change color, it’s best to carefully examine its environment and your care routine to determine what the most likely cause could be. The most common disease of Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ is root rot, so reduce the risk of infection by making every effort to avoid letting the plant sit in waterlogged soil. Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ has very few pest problems, but if a pest such as spider mites, mealy bugs, or scale insects appear, treat with neem oil, insecticidal soap, or by dabbing 70% rubbing alcohol directly onto the pests with a cotton swab. Aloe ‘Blue Elf’ can be propagated via cuttings, seed, and division. Division is far and away the easiest method, as the plant produces many offsets, or pups. When repotting in spring or summer, carefully divide the plant and its offsets into clumps so that each clump has a root system of its own and give each clump its own pot. If propagating via cuttings, cut off a section of leaf 3-6 inches long and let it sit for 3-7 days so its open wound can seal over. If the cutting begins to rot, it will not root. But if the wound seals, either lay the cutting on a bed of slightly moist succulent mix or insert it very shallowly into the mix. Keep the soil moist (misting is a good method) and watch for roots to develop over several weeks.
I find 20F very difficult to imagine, but I found at least three sources that corroborated it. If it's a mistake, it's a widely accepted one.