Friday, August 21, 2015

Three new aloes from Facebook

Did you know that you can buy plants on Facebook? While there aren’t any traditional online stores, there are many groups dedicated to buying, selling and trading. Succulents seem to be particularly popular.

I’m always excited when our mail lady delivers a box of plants—even more so when it’s two boxes.

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Both are from Tony Norris who sells succulents on Facebook under the name Texas Aloe Growers. I’d bought from Tony before and knew he sells quality plants so I had no hesitations to do it again.

The triangular box contained just one plant: a tilt-head aloe (Aloe speciosa). This single-stemmed aloe that can grow to 10 ft. or more is impossible to find in our area, and I was glad Tony had one left to sell.

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The 2nd box contained two more aloes: an Aloe ferox var. candelabrum and a hybrid, Aloe ferox × comptonii (sorry for the typo in the labels you see in the photos below).

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Tony had sent them bare-root, a standard practice to save weight and shipping costs. I immediately potted them up and watered them in. They will form new roots very quickly.

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When plants are this small, it’s often difficult to get a mental picture of what they will be like down the line. Below are two photos of mature specimens of Aloe speciosa. It’s known as the tilt-head aloe because in older plants the rosette often tilts slightly downward instead of pointing straight up. The flowers are pretty spectacular, too.

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Aloe speciosa, left at the Huntington Desert Garden and right at the University of California Botanical Garden in Berkeley

The second one I bought is the candelabrum form of the bitter aloe, Aloe ferox. Its leaves point downward more than the species and the inflorescence has more branches. It’s supposed to be the most garden-worthy form of Aloe ferox.

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Aloe ferox var. candelabrum (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The third plant is a hybrid between between Aloe ferox and Aloe comptonii, a smaller species which develops a creeping stem. Its flowers are spectacular—see below and here. At this point it’s anybody’s guess what this hybrid will look like as an adult. But I love that kind of surprise, and I seek out hybrids for this very reason.

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Aloe comptonii (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Tony Norris lists most of his sale plants on his own page, Texas Aloe Growers, and in a Facebook group called Succulent Marketplace:

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It’s a closed group, but you can become a member by clicking the Join button.

Another Facebook group I’ve bought plants and pottery from is called B.E.S.T. (Buy, Exchange, Sell, Trade) Succulents and Containers. Highly recommended as well.

Transactions are usually done via private messages, and payments are handled via PayPal. Most sellers are folks like you and me who simply have too many plants; others are selling on a semi-professional basis. I’ve found prices to be very reasonable, especially for harder-to-find plants or oddities.

Also check out the many plant-related groups on Facebook. You’ll meet a lot of like-minded people who can answer virtually any question you might have.

16 comments:

  1. Will these eventually go in the bed you are redoing in front?

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  2. I didn't know you could ship plants like this without killing the plant.

    I love tree aloe. Would these be considered tree aloe? What is the growth rate and eventual size?

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    1. Bare-root is a common way of shipping succulents. Most of them are able to form new roots quickly.

      I checked the Guide to the Aloes of South Africa, and it seems that tree aloes, now in their own genus Aloidendron, shed the old leaves while single-stemmed aloes (like Aloe ferox and Aloe speciosa) retain them, which results in a skirt of dried leaves.

      As for eventual size, Aloe ferox grows to 6-8 ft, Aloe speciosa 8-10 ft.

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  3. Great additions to your collection!

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    1. I hope the speciosa is a fast grower. Would love a tall aloe for the planting area that will replace the front lawn.

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  5. It's fascinating how FB evolves isn't it? And great haul btw!

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    1. Selling and buying are logical outgrowths of social interaction so it makes sense that people begin to trade with each other.

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  6. I'd no idea that one could buy plants on facebook! Another way to shop for plants 24 hours a day. Hooray! Nice group of new aloes!

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    1. 90% of what I see in the groups I'm a member of is common plant material, but occasionally there's something that catches my eye.

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  7. Nice healthy specimens! They are so lucky to have found their way to your garden!

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  8. you can get plants by mail? what are plants that you cant do?

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    1. Tore, most succulents are tough enough to be shipped through the mail, even in the summer. Plants that have a harder time with mail order are those that need to be constantly moist; if a package gets delayed, they might die.

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