Monday, December 7, 2015

’Tis the season: aloes about to bloom in my garden

Leaves are falling from the trees and many plants are getting ready for a long winter’s nap. Many aloes, on the other hand, are doing the opposite: They’re gearing up to bloom. Here’s a quick look at the aloes in my garden that are sending up flower spikes.

151205_Aloe-Erik-the-Red_002

Aloe ‘Erik the Red’. This is a complex hybrid from South African breeder Leo Thamm (Sunbird Aloes). A month ago the leaves were mostly green; the recent cold has really brought out the red.

151205_Aloe-Erik-the-Red_001

Aloe ‘Erik the Red’ with two flower stalks emerging. I’m hoping for even more

My best-performing Sunbird aloe is ‘Moonglow’. My friend Sue and I split the content of a 5-gallon pot from Home Depot a couple of years ago. I ended up with three plants, and I think she has two. My three have grown significantly, and one now has pups of its own.

151205_Aloe-Moonglow_001

Aloe ‘Moonglow’. See the mess on the leaves? Those are the nasty fruits from the Bradford pear tree behind it. It’s a city tree so we can’t cut it down, which I would otherwise do in a heartbeat. I hate everything about it.

151205_Aloe-Moonglow_006

Aloe ‘Moonglow’ #2 near the ‘Hercules’ tree aloe

151205_Aloe-Moonglow_004

Aloe ‘Moonglow’ # 2, close up

151205_Aloe-Moonglow_002

Aloe ‘Moonglow’ # 3. Even its pups are flowering this year.

151205_Aloe-Moonglow_003

This should be spectacular at the end of month

151205_Aloe-Moonglow_005

Close up of an emerging Aloe ‘Moonglow’ inflorescence

Some more aloes soon to bloom, or blooming already:

151205_Aloe-ferox

Aloe ferox inflorescence playing peek-a-boo

151205_Aloe-glauca_002

Aloe glauca is already blooming. Quite a large inflorescence considering the size of the rosette.

151205_Aloe-cameronii_003

Aloe cameronii with two emerging flower stalks

151205_Aloe-cameronii_002

Aloe cameronii close up

151205_Aloe-Brian-Kemble_001

Lower right: aloe hybrid from Brian Kemble, curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden. I bought it last year at their Black Friday sale. It came with this daunting-looking label:

141130_RBG_144

It’s a happy camper in this spot, flowering several times a year

151205_Aloe-cryptopoda_001

Aloe cryptopoda in the driveway bed. It started to bloom in October and is almost done. The flower stalks are almost six feet tall.

Not all aloes are winter bloomers. Some flower in the summer, like Aloe reitzii, and the grass aloes. I’ve been trying to find a handy list of summer-flowering aloes but haven’t had any luck yet. If anybody knows of one, please let me know.

Finally, since it’s that time of year, here is a handy list indicating the cold hardiness of select aloe species. This list was compiled by Brian Kemble, the intrepid curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden, and published by San Marcos Growers in Santa Barbara.

18 comments:

  1. I like. Especially those with multiple inflorescences at the tips. I liken aloe blooms at this time of year to small decorated Christmas trees by the shape or brilliant candles by the color. Very welcome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Small Christmas trees--I like that. They definitely put a smile on peoples' faces.

      Delete
  2. Lots of the same Aloes budded up or already blooming here too. I'm surprised frost doesn't destroy your Moonglow blooms there in Davis, it seems rather sensitive to damage and you always get some frost there, no?

    As to summer blooming Aloes, africana, Johnson's Hybrid, Roolkopie, tomentosa, striatula, reitzii are my go-to summer bloomers, and one I got from Gary Hammer years ago, and mislabeled on the internet as x delaetii, but some unidentified hybrid from Florida. Cameronii seems to also continue blooming in summer here in the Bay Area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We've only had a few cold nights (30-32°F) this year. I'm hoping El Niño will give us another mild winter, just like last winter. If serious frost were in the forecast, I'd cover the flower stalks with styrofoam cups, like they do with the growing tips of cactus.

      Thank you for the list of summer bloomers. Very useful to have! 'Rooikappie' is a good one. It seems to be in bloom for months on end.

      Delete
  3. They're all great, but I love 'Moonglow'. I'd love to see flowers like that developing in my garden this time of year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, 'Moonglow', like most aloes, it's very hardy :-(.

      Delete
  4. I love winter posts from you warm-climate gardeners because of the aloe blooms. That 'Moonglow' is just beautiful, even without blooms!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Moonglow' is solid green most of the year but has taken on a slight pinkish-purple tinge in recent weeks, no doubt because of the colder nights.

      Delete
  5. You've brought back magical memories of all the blooming Aloes I saw last year during our trip to San Diego and LA. I can almost forget about the dreadfully wet (3" or more, depending on who you ask) and dark dark day...

    Your garden is looking fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In my book, the Huntington is the place to beat when it comes to blooming aloes. What a spectacle!

      Delete
  6. So beautiful! (Is that 'Macho Mocha'? Love it.) That 'Moonglow' is a knockout -- what a bloomer!

    I'll see your Bradford pear and raise you the pecan tree in my front yard :~( So much about that tree to dislike. At least it provides some shade in the summer.

    Love the hardy aloe list. Most of mine should do OK [crosses fingers, stockpiles frost cloth].

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that 'Macho Mocha' outside the fence, and behind it a (juvenile) Agave weberi 'Arizona Star'. Can't wait to see what this area will look like in a year!

      Imagine a yard with both Bradford pears and pecans! Did I mention that Bradford pears also produce suckers?

      Delete
  7. Wow! What a treat and such cool flowers. Love the Aloe ‘Erik the Red’
    : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'Erik the Red' has very cool flowers. I'll post photos when they're open.

      Delete
  8. As I recall, you don't generally participate in Bloom Day but I think you should consider joining in for December or January - what a show you're going to have! Thanks for the list too (not that I face any real problem with low temps).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kris, this isn't intentional. I simply forget about Bloom Day until I see posts about on other people's blogs. I promise to do better--and I will definitely post about my aloes once they're in full flower.

      Delete
  9. A very exciting time of year! You have some real beauties, Gerhard. My Moonglow has been knocked back (by aphids/ants) to one rooting cutting, so no blooms from mine this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My 'Moonglow' have been trouble-free so far. Knock on wood. The plants in my garden that have aphid problems are usually in too much shade.

      Delete