Update on aloes in our garden

After my lengthy two-part post about agaves at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix it’s time to take a look at what’s going on at home.

A handful of aloes have been teasing me with flowers for what seems like months. After a series of sunny days—and a couple of Pineapple Express storms that brought two inches of rain to Davis last weekend—we’re finally seeing some progress.


Aloe ‘Moonglow’ is finally blooming. My friend Sue brought me this South African hybrid last year. We divvied up the content of a 5-gallon nursery pot; I ended up with three plants, and I think she had two. Not bad for a $20 purchase from the Home Depot. Here is one of my three plants, this one with four flower stalks.


The flower color is more orange this year than what I remember from last year (the plant from the Home Depot was in bloom when Sue bought it). The photo on the Sunbird Aloes website also looks less orange than my plants.


Here’s my largest ‘Moonglow’. I love how you can see it from quite a distance.


The contrast against the icy blue of this Agave colorata is particularly nice.


I don’t know what the exact parentage of ‘Moonglow’ is (like all Leo Thamm hybrids, it’s fairly complex), but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had some Aloe capitata in it. For comparison, check out the stubby inflorescence of A. capitata here.


The other Leo Thamm hybrid I have, Aloe ‘Erik the Red’, is taking it’s time. The flower spikes keep getting taller and taller but the flowers haven’t opened up yet.


Overall, though, I’m pretty impressed with the growth I’ve seen since planting it last summer.


‘Erik the Red’ isn’t the only straggler. These three have also been on the cusp of flowering for a long time now:


Aloe cameronii


Aloe ferox


Brian Kemble hybrid

Hurry up already!

The same goes for two Aloe glauca that are just now producing an inflorescence:


Aloe glauca in front yard


Aloe glauca in back yard

And these two in the backyard:


Aloe sinkatana


Aloe striata

And then there are the ones that I think should have been flowering years ago:


Hybrid between Aloe cameronii and Aloe maculata, bought years ago Yucca Do Nursery. It’s certainly large enough to flower, but it hasn’t produced a single inflorescence yet. The clump is getting a bit unruly, and I will thin it out soon. There’ll be offsets to give away—any takers?


Possibly the wackiest Aloe marlothii this side of the Atlantic. It looks large enough to me to produce flowers. I wish it would get with the program!

A propos of nothing, here is the Aloe ‘Hercules’ in the front yard—actually it’s an Aloidendron now since both its parents, A. barberae and A. dichotoma, have been reclassified.


I’m including ‘Hercules’ in this post because I want to have a reference photo of its size as of February 12, 2014. For comparison, the fence is 6 ft. in height.

I’ll update you in six months on how much it’s grown. It has quite a reputation as a speed demon among tree aloes!


  1. Heck, I was going to go to Ruth Bancroft this weekend to see aloes but maybe I should go see your yard. Nice!!

    1. LOL. I only have a few aloes in flower. The RBG has hundreds, I'm sure :-).

  2. In a way it's quite good that the others are sort of lagging behind when it comes to flowering. With that you'll get a succession of blooms :)

    1. Yes, you're right. I should be more patient. Not my strong suit!

  3. All your Aloes look great but I think I'm in love with 'Moonglow.'

    1. Just take a look at the all other hybrid Sunbird Aloes has developed. Why aren't they available here???


  4. My Moonglows are a butterscotch color too, what's up with that!? Maybe the original bright yellow was a result of the grower's environmental conditions, it wouldn't surprise me if they had spent most of their initial life under forced growing conditions in a greenhouse. Sue

    1. I was very surprised by the change in color. Don't get me wrong, I still love 'Moonglow', but I'm lusting after a decent-sized PURE YELLOW-FLOWERING aloe that will do well here in Davis.

  5. My marlothii was double that size before it bloomed. Two inches of rain, lucky you!

    The 'Moonglow' is a nice cheerful color for winter, isn't it?

    1. Wow, I had no idea they had to be that large to bloom. So another 5 years at least!

      I'm hoping there will be more aloes from Leo Thamm soon. Only three are available in the US: 'Moonglow', 'Erik the Red' and 'Always Red'.

  6. So Gerhard, what happens to these if you get into the teens overnight in Davis ? Will covering them suffice ? I lost an Aloe striata a couple years ago , but it was in a pot and I probably should have moved it in to the garage .I predict our 20 degree nights are over for the year here.

    1. Then I’d slit my wrists :-).

      We haven't been in the high teens since 1991. If it ever got that cold again, I’d try to cover as much as I could and keep my fingers crossed. Not much else you could do.

  7. Beautiful 'Moonglow' and 'Eric the Red' [adds to Want List]. That ferox...! I can only dream that my little ferox will look as good as yours someday...

    I'd love an offset of the Aloe cameronii/Aloe maculata hybrid -- and I'm always keen on a trade, on the off chance you're looking for something and I can put my finger on it!

    1. Luisa, I must admit I bought that Aloe ferox as a 15-gallon plant. One of two large succulents I splurged on last year, the other being Aloidendron 'Hercules'.

      Please email me your mailing address and I'll send you an offset from that A. cameronii x maculata hybrid.

    2. Thank you, Gerhard! Just sent you an email. Am now saving for a bigger ferox!


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