Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Aloes, hurry up already!

Winter in the Sacramento Valley (USDA hardiness zone 9b; Sunset zone 14) is aloe time. Most aloes are winter bloomers and they grace us with their flowers when little else is in bloom.

Except this year my aloes are stuck in a state of suspended animation because of our weird weather. Usually our winters are sunny and bright (the occasional rain storm excepted). This January, though, has been anything but normal. We’ve had more fog than I can remember, and it’s been extremely dry. After an unusually wet December, January has been the driest on record. More proof that California’s drought is anything but over.

As a consequence, many of our aloes have been in limbo, their flower stalks in arrested development. I need to turn on the sprinklers this weekend to give all our plants a good drink. Otherwise our aloes might continue to sulk and abort their flowers altogether.

Here are some of the aloes I’m waiting for to come into their own:

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Unidentified Brian Kemble hybrid from the Ruth Bancroft Garden

My Aloe ‘Moonglow’, one of the two Leo Thamm hybrids from South Africa that I own, is much more orange than last year. It’s supposed to be on the yellow end of the spectrum. I wonder if it’s so orange because it’s been trying to flower for a couple of months now? I have three plants now and they’re continuing to produce pups, so next year’s show should be more impressive.

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My second Leo Thamm hybrid is Aloe ‘Erik the Red’. This is a fairly tall single-stem aloe, with the potential to grow to a height of 6 ft. As with all aloes from Sunbird, it’s a complex hybrid who exact parentage is being kept a secret.

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No secret are the last three aloes I want to show you. The first is Aloe cameronii, stuck in this state for a good month now. Open up already, flowers!

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Our large Aloe ferox is no speed demon either. Its flower stalk has been stuck at this height for quite a while now. It’s supposed to tower above the plant!

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And finally, here’s my variegated Aloe arborescens. It’s actually in full bloom, to my surprise. This is the first year it’s had flowers.

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So there you have it. Either I’m too impatient or these aloes are way behind schedule. Fortunately, the forecast for the next 10 days is mostly sunny, so maybe these aloes will finally get a move on!

9 comments:

  1. Yikes, I didn't realize you'd gone back to the dry side. Hopefully a little drink from your hose, some bright sunshine and you'll be posting beautiful aloe flowers next week.

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    1. Beautiful day today. Lots of sunshine, and temps in the low 70s. I need to turn on the sprinklers though. Everything is bone dry. Strange January for sure, on the heels of a strange year...

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  2. Ugh! The driest January on record, eh? I don't want to hear this. Maybe that's why I've been having to water all the pots. Maybe that's why my newly purchased sarcococca, even though it has many buds, is not blooming, just sulking. Crazy weather. Maybe we will all be growing aloes soon. Yours are quite pretty and show that they have been well taken care of, that is, no bruises or breaks or dead leaves.

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    1. Thank you, Jane. I do try to pamper my plants. After all, their job is to be beautiful :-).

      We have one lone 55-gallon rain barrel, still full from the December rains, and now's the time to start drawing from it.

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  3. You might get a good show in February? Cross fingers! Interesting to see the variegated aloe arborescens flowering, something I have yet to see in person.

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    1. Climate change, no matter how hard some segments of our populace are trying to ignore it.

      I'm still amazed that that variegated A. arborescens is flowering when the much (and I mean MUCH) larger clump of non-variegated A. arborescens right next to it has NEVER flowered. Go figure!

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  4. That darn dirty Ridiculously Resilient Ridge at work again!

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    1. You'd think the almighty U.S. government could launch a small missile to get it to move, LOL.

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  5. The aloes at Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria (Santa Barbara County) were beginning to bloom in earnest in late November but my own in LA Country are only just starting to bloom now. I'd chalked the bloom-less status of my plants to their relative immaturity but the weather seems a likely contributor - January was a dry month here too. We got 3/8ths of an inch of rain on Monday but, despite clouds today, the sky did no more than spit at us.

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