Aloe helenae is a rare Madagascan species that is highly sought after by collectors. The plant is typically non-branching, but may sucker at the base. It has deeply channeled, recurved olive-green leaves that can turn red in bright light or during drought stress. The plant can reach up to 13 feet tall, and produces unique flowers in late winter to early spring. The flower stalks are multiple, short, unbranched, and tightly covered with hundreds of bright red buds that fade to pale yellow before opening with flaring petals, resembling a grouping of Banksia flowers.
Aloe helenae is best planted in full sun and well-drained soil, and irrigation should be occasional to infrequent, and can be unirrigated once established. This plant has been cultivated only in near frost-free gardens, so until more is known, its frost tolerance is listed at 30°F. It grows near the ocean in nature, so it likely can be planted in near-coastal gardens.
The species is native to the Fort Dauphin region of Madagascar, where it grows in thorn forest in sandy soils. It is considered critically endangered due to its limited distribution. The plant is named after Helen Decary, wife of Raymond Decary, a French financial administrator and 20th century botanist in Madagascar.
Propagation can be done through suckers at the base, but it is more commonly propagated through tissue culture or seed. Aloe helenae is known to be easy to cultivate in gardens in mild areas, and it is a very attractive and unusual species that is highly recommended for collectors.