The name "arenicola" means "inhabitant of sands" in Latin, as this tough aloe is naturally restricted to the sandy dune areas that run in a narrow strip along the South African west coast, from Lamberts Bay in the south, up to the Namibian border in the north. This coastal strip lies within the Namaqualand, an arid winter-rainfall area. During the severest droughts, the plants get all the moisture they require from the mists that sweep up from the sea.
Adapted as they are for arid, sandy, winter-rainfall desert, their roots and stems tend to rot when they are propagated in wet climates. Nonetheless, the distinctive colour and markings of this aloe have made it a popular ornamental in xeriscaping and it is widely grown for dry gardens.