Sometimes it's all about the flowers

When I pick a plant for the garden, the main criterion is usually the foliage or—for plants without traditional leaves—the overall look. Flowers are a nice bonus, but they're rarely the main focus.

However, when a special plant is in bloom, it's all about the flowers. And that's nice, too. 

Here are a few current examples from our garden.

 The Cape lily (Veltheimia capensis) is a South African bulb that thrives in the long bed along the sidewalk. Its fully dormant in the summer, but in the winter it puts on a show that lasts for a couple of months. The kniphofia-like flowers are starting to wane a bit now, but it looks like they'll stick around for a few more weeks. The leaves are nothing to sneeze at either.

Veltheimia capensis

 Cephalophyllum 'Red Spike' was one of the purchases that came home with me from my quick trip to Southern California at the end of December. It's a clumping ice plant that is said to "erupt in carmine flowers" in late winter. I think it's on its way!

Cephalophyllum 'Red Spike'

 While most aloes in our garden are taking their sweet time this year, the one in the photos below is at its peak. It's a hybrid between two species from central Madagascar, Aloe ericetorum and Aloe hoffmanniiAloe ericetorum has yellow flowers, Aloe hoffmannii red ones, and this cross made by Nick Deinhart combines both colors in an ombre effect. I'm a bit obsessed with it right now.

Aloe ericetorum × hoffmannii (ex Nick Deinhart)

The top view is nice, too!

 Back in the long bed along the sidewalk, Aloe wickensii has a few open flowers. It's as if it's dipping its toes in the water to test the temperature. Nah, still too cold, I'll wait a little longer.

Soon, though, we'll have quite a show. Several aloes are in their starting positions...

© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. No part of the materials available through may be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated or reduced to any electronic medium or machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without prior written consent of Gerhard Bock. Any other reproduction in any form without the permission of Gerhard Bock is prohibited. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States and international copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Gerhard Bock. If you are reading this post on a website other than, please be advised that that site is using my content without my permission. Any unauthorized use will be reported.


  1. Colour is definitely the first thing that grabs your attention. I started some Veltheimia from seed several years ago. The bulbs started flowering last year but their colour is more salmon than your vivid fuchsia. Like yours better. Love the little globe-shaped aloe. Very unusual. The flowers are more allium shaped.

    1. Maybe you have Veltheimia bracteosa? Its flower color can vary much more than V. capensis. V. bracteosa even comes in yellow.

    2. Blown away by your close-ups of the two-tone florets of the hybrid aloes; gorgeous. I can see how a person could become a little obsessed!

  2. I think I need to dig up and move my Veltheimia bulbs - they haven't bloomed for 2 years now and I haven't even seen the foliage of one this year. I love the bloom on that hybrid aloe. As to Aloe wickensii, mine's gained size over the past 2 years but it's yet to show any sign of even thinking about blooming.

    1. If you have Veltheimia capensis, they prefer a sunny exposure and should be kept dry in the summer when dormant.

      Veltheimia bracteosa like more shade and, if given regular water, can remain green year round.

      Give your Aloe wickensii time. It takes a few years to get to flowering size.

  3. Veltheimia capensis' bloom is shockingly and unexpectedly pink! At first glance I thought it was a photoshopped kniphofia... Of course it is highly unlikely that you'd post such a thing.
    Do you grow it with the top of the bulb exposed, as recommended?

    1. I agree, Veltheimia capensis flowers do look like a pink knipfhofia!

      Yes, they do grow with the tops exposed. Somehow the tops work themselves out of the ground like that.

  4. Oh my, I "need" that Veltheimia!

    I have that (maybe????) Cephalophyllum 'Red Spike' , but it was under an entirely different name 15 or so years ago, from Annie's. A great little plant, tough and well-behaved.

    The Aloe hybrid looks like a capitata. Cool flower.

    1. Honestly, I'd get a few more Veltheimia capensis myself if I could find any. I don't know why they're so rare in cultivation.

      Veltheimia bracteata is much easier to find, but it has different cultivation requirements (more shade, more water) and looks different.

  5. Your photos capture the vibrancy of those blooms so well!!


Post a Comment