Soap aloe (Aloe saponaria) grows in a stemless rosette, and produces little offset rosettes around its margin. The main rosette gets up to about a foot and a half tall and just as wide. The lance-shaped leaves are thick and succulent, pale green with white speckles, and 25-30 cm long. The leaf margins are armed with sharp, dark brown teeth. Throughout much of the summer, soap aloe sends up a purplish branched stalk about 0.6 m tall, bearing showy tubular yellow, orange or red flowers.
Soap aloe is native to arid regions in eastern South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, it is very easy to grow in sandy or gravelly soils with good drainage. A single plant will expand considerably as it produces offsets. Divide the crowded clumps periodically. Full sun to partial shade - plants grown in partial shade usually look healthier and more succulent. This aloe is very tolerant of drought, although the tips of the leaves may wither and curl during hot, dry periods. Supplemental watering will keep the leaves plump and juicy. Soap aloe is damaged in hard freezes, but recovers quickly, it is easy to propagate by seeds or by separating the little "pups" that develop around the outside of the main rosette.
Soap aloe is very salt tolerant, and a good choice for seaside gardens. It is also very drought tolerant and is perfect for rock or cactus gardens. Use it as a ground cover under palms, agaves or large cacti. Soap aloe makes a great container plant and will live for years in very little soil. Hummingbirds are attracted to the showy flowers. The sap from the juicy leaves makes suds in water and can be used as a soap substitute.