differences and similarities – ISPUZZLE

With similar appearances, it’s easy to see why it can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between an agave plant and an aloe vera, or any type of aloe. This article will introduce you to Agave vs Aloe Vera so that you can tell them apart and take care of both plants.

Agave versus Aloe Vera: Agaves tend to be larger and have sharp spines on their leaves, while aloe vera leaves are serrated, but not sharp. Agave leaves are fibrous and aloe vera leaves are thick, fleshy and filled with clear gel. They have different origins and life cycles, but the same care needs.

Read on as we take a closer look at the differences and similarities of agave and aloe vera plants.


Agave vs Aloe Vera – Origin and Family

Agave and aloe vera plants are adapted to grow well in tropical, semi-tropical and arid climates. However, both are native to different parts of the world, although the growing conditions are the same.


Agaves are native to tropical and hot, dry and arid regions of the Americas, including the southwestern United States. While Aloe Vera is native to Africa, although with its easy propagation by grafts and 6,000 years of medicinal use, the location of an exact region is questionable at best.

Aloe vera has a long history of travel, traveling to the Caribbean islands and South America with Spanish explorers. The medicinal use of the plant is mentioned in Greek, Roman, Indian, Egyptian and Chinese cultures and continues its journey as friends and neighbors share Aloe Vera babies with others.


agave (agave specieslisten)) is a genus of evergreen perennial succulents that are part of the Asparagaceae family, the same family as the edible asparagus. Like the aloes, it is a large family with over 166 different species. Some common or best-known species or varieties of agave are:

  • blue agave (agave tequilana)
  • Plant of the century (american agave)
  • Foxtail Agave (weakened agave)

Like agave plants, aloe vera is an evergreen perennial succulent and is a species in the genus Aloe spp. and belongs to the Asphodelaceae family, which belongs to the same family as Haworthia. The aloe family is quite large, with around 580 different species and hybrids, and aloe vera is just one of many. Some of the more common varieties of aloe include:

  • Aloe Soap (spotted aloe)
  • Fianarantsoa Aloe (Aloebellatula)
  • Torch Aloe (aloe tree)

Agave vs Aloe Vera – Appearance

Although agave and aloe vera plants are similar, there are differences and once you know what to look for, you can easily tell the two types apart.


agave versus aloe vera

All types of agave plants form a rosette made up of succulent leaves with sharp spines and a pointed central edge. Although still considered succulent, agave leaves differ from aloe vera in that the inner leaf is very fibrous and not gelatinous or sticky. In addition, and depending on the variety, the colors of the leaves are green, blue-green, gray-green and speckled or speckled with cream, yellow or gold.

During flowering, agave plants send up a tall stem from the central rosette that fills with small, tubular flowers. Unlike aloe vera plants, the parent plant dies as soon as an agave flowers, but the plant produces a large number of young.

Another difference between agave and aloe vera plants is the mature size. While aloe vera plants typically only grow a few feet tall, depending on the variety of agave, plants can grow anywhere from 1 foot to over 20 feet tall.

aloe vera

agave versus aloe vera

Like agave plants, aloe vera forms a rosette of thick, fleshy leaves that are green to blue-green in color, with some varieties having white spots. The edges of the leaves are lined with small white teeth. Unlike agave leaves which are very fibrous on the inside, aloe vera leaves are fleshy with a gel-like substance. Also, the plants are not spiny like the agave.

Aloe vera plants bloom in summer with a tall central stem with yellow tubular flowers. Unlike agave plants which die as soon as they bloom, aloe vera plants continue to thrive to bloom for another season. Like agave, Aloe Vera plants reproduce with fry that form around the parent plant. When mature, the plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall.

Expert tip: When it comes to knowing the difference between an agave plant and aloe vera, these are the leaves. Agave leaves are very fibrous and thinner, while aloe vera leaves are thick and fleshy. When you smell an agave leaf and compare it to the sensation of aloe vera, you immediately feel the difference between each leaf. Aloe vera does not have the tough, serious spines like agave.

Uses of Agave and Aloe Vera Plants

Agave and aloe vera have been widely used in different cultures for centuries. Even today, both plants are still widely used for their benefits.


Agave plants have four main edible parts, including the flowers, the foliage, the basal rosettes or stems, and the plant sap, called mead in Spanish and means water with honey. Ancient indigenous peoples of the American Southwest used agave as an important food source.

One of the most famous products of the Blue Agave plant is the alcoholic drink tequila. The flowers and stems of the agave are roasted or baked and the boiled or crushed leaves are used as dietary fiber. The fibrous material produced by the factory is used to make rope. The ancients used the hard thorns as needles.

However, it should be noted that some people are allergic to agave juice and should wear gloves when handling the plant.

aloe vera

For thousands of years, Aloe Vera has been promoted as a medicinal or cosmetic plant. Aloe vera has been used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Cosmetically, it is used in shaving cream, makeup and other beauty products, soap and shampoo.

You can even find aloe vera in various food products like yogurt, various desserts and beverages. In general, all products use Aloe Vera to promote good health.

The scientific evidence for the benefits of Aloe Vera is generally quite weak. The evidence is strongest for the moisturizing and soothing properties of Aloe Vera on the skin (1) (2). Topical products containing Aloe Vera are generally safe and are used in many topical medical and cosmetic products.

Unlike agave plants which are edible, aloe vera when ingested has the potential to be toxic and negatively affect the digestive system. However, toxicity can be reduced if aloin is removed during treatment.

ornamental use

Agave and aloe vera are widely used as ornamental plants. Both do quite well when grown outdoors in frost-free climates. Additionally, the smaller varieties of both plants are suitable for growing as a houseplant, although the agave spikes on some may make you think twice about bringing one indoors.

When used as a houseplant, agave grows more slowly than aloe vera, which means it can keep plants smaller and more manageable for longer. Aloe vera does well as a houseplant, but both plants need bright light to grow well indoors.

Outdoors, both agave and aloe vera plants do well in water or desert gardens, as they both have high drought tolerance. These two mass-planted plants make good barrier plants, especially with their thorny nature. Because of the thorns, you probably won’t want to use them to line a driveway. The smaller varieties do well in containers.

The taller growing agave varieties are showy specimens, especially when they send up their flowering stems which can last for months. Agave and aloe vera are welcome additions to wildlife or pollinator gardens, as the tubular flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

aloe vera and agave flowersFlowering aloe vera (left) and agave (right)

Agave vs Aloe Vera – Growing and Care Requirements

When it comes to growing and caring for agave and aloe vera plants, they both have the same requirements for vigorous growth, both indoors and out. Plus, their low maintenance and high drought tolerance make them the perfect choice for those who want hardy plants that aren’t picky eaters.

Usually I: When growing agave or aloe vera, plant outdoors in the ground as well as in well-drained soil. If growing in a container, use a well-drained potting soil or cactus mix. Don’t grow in soil that tends to stay soggy or your plants will develop root rot and die.

container: When selecting a container, any type of material works well, but make sure the bottom has drainage holes. Consider the size of the agave or aloe vera and use a container that won’t tip over as the plant is very heavy.

Light: Whether you grow Agave and Aloe Vera indoors or outdoors, they need plenty of light to grow well. Too low light conditions produce long plants. Outdoors, plant in a sunny spot and if you are growing your plant indoors, place it in a sunny spot.

Temperature: Agave and aloe vera plants grow as perennials in a constantly warm outdoor location, as they do not tolerate cold winters. Move containers to a warm, sheltered location if you encounter frosts in your area. Indoors, place both plants in a location where the temperature is between 60°F and 85°F.

Water: Once established in the landscape, agave and aloe vera plants don’t need a lot of water to thrive and have a high drought tolerance. Watering every few weeks is sufficient. When grown in containers, both plants don’t need a glass of water until the potting soil is mostly dry. Whether grown outdoors or as a houseplant, excess water or damp conditions will kill agave and aloe vera.

Fertilization: While neither is heavy, you can fertilize outdoor plants in the spring and summer with an all-purpose mix. Feed houseplants monthly with a semi-strength water-soluble houseplant mix.

Cut: Agave and Aloe Vera require little pruning. You can cut the stems and leaves of dead flowers with sterilized pruning tools if necessary.

Agave vs Aloe Vera – The difference is in the leaves

Although agave and aloe vera plants have similar characteristics, there are major differences between the two plant species. However, it can be difficult to tell the difference between the two, but remember that it all depends on the leaves.

Agave leaves are thick and fibrous, while aloe vera leaves are thick but fleshy. Aloe vera leaves contain a gel-like substance, unlike agave leaves.

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