Aloe bloom preview, early December 2021

A record-breaking rainfall in late October (about 6 inches over four days) followed by a warm November kickstarted this year's aloe flowering season. While it doesn't look like this yet...

Long bed along the sidewalk, late February 2021

...we are about two weeks ahead of where we usually are in early December. 

Let's take a look at the aloes about to flower in our garden. Most of them are the usual suspects, but to my great delight, there are a few first-time bloomers as well. They're marked    below.

Aloe cameronii, one of a handful getting ready to flower

Aloe 'Erik the Red' after I blasted the mealybugs to kingdom come

Aloe capitata var. quartziticola, always a favorite. It's less purple than usual because it's being partially shaded by our ×Mangave 'Kaleidoscope'.

  Aloe chabaudii was a gift from my friend Justin. It's blooming for the first time this winter.

Aloe wickensii, arguably the most spectacular bloomer in our garden (see the lead photo at the top of this post)

Aloe 'Moonglow'

Aloe petricola with its chunky inflorescence

Aloe bulbillifera hybrid from Jeff Moore in Tucson, blooming repeatedly throughout the year

  Aloe aculeata, flowering for the first time

  Aloe 'Apache', flowering for the first time. This is an Altman Plants hybrid sold at The Home Depot and other box stores.

Aloe ferox × capitata (Rancho Soledad hybrid)

  Aloe capitata 'Yellow Hoodie' (Rancho Tissue introduction), flowering for the first time

Aloe speciosa × barberae (Nick Deinhart hybrid), flowering for the 2nd time

Aloe 'Maui Gem' (A. mawii × globuligemma, Brent Wigand hybrid)

Aloiampelos striatula, growing in a raised vegetable bed. This is one of five cuttings I received from John Miller of the Institute for Aloe Studies. I planted the other four at my mother-in-law's garden in Mount Shasta where they survived temperatures near 0°F last winter (the top growth was killed, but new leaves emerged from near the base). Aloiampelos striatula is considered to be one of the most cold-hardy of all aloes.

  Aloe betsileensis, flowering for the first time. In full sun, the leaves would have a purple hue.

  Aloe 'Swordfish', a Kelly Griffin hybrid for Altman Plants (thank you for the ID, Nancy and Shycast100). According to the US patent for 'Swordfish',  the “seed parent is the unpatented Aloe hybrid ‘Sunset’. The pollen parent is an unnamed, unpatented variety of Aloe divaricata. The crossing was made in December 2014 at a commercial greenhouse in Vista, Calif.”

Aloe ericetorum × hoffmannii (Nick Deinhart hybrid)

And finally the one I'm most excited about: This Aloe vaombe (one of two in our garden) is going to flower for the first time! I bought it as an unlabeled mystery plant at Poot's Cactus Nursery in Ripon in March 2017.

  Aloe vaombe in the bed next to the front door

Aloe vaombe is native to Madagascar and has the potential to grow to 12 ft. It's only hardy to about 27°F, but this plant is in a fairly protected spot under the eaves of the house.

I fell head over heels for Aloe vaombe when I saw it in bloom at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. There are dozens of them in the Arboretum's Madagascar Spiny Forest:

Aloe vaombe and Bismarckia nobilis at the Los Angeles County Arboretum

So far, December has been gray and dry, which has slowed the development of the flowers a bit. But with more rain in the forecast for the weekend, some of the aloes I showed you in this post may be in bloom by Christmas.

12/11/20 UPDATE:

As I was raking leaves this morning, I found another first-time bloomer that has me excited: Aloe alooides. I got it 7 years ago as a 3-inch seedling from Arid Lands Greenhouses in Tucson, AZ. Today it looks like this:

  Aloe alooides about to flower for the first time

Aloe alooides has a very distinctive unbranched inflorescence, as you can see here.

© Gerhard Bock, 2021. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. You started and ended the post with two spectacular photographs! While winter hasn't officially started yet, I also search my garden for buds (Hellebores mainly): the promise of things to come. Gardeners are an optimistic bunch and I look forward to the "Aloe Show" in your garden.

    1. I checked my hellebores (I only have a handful), but only leaves so far. But it's raining again, so I expect faster growth now.

  2. I'm so excited that my 'Moonglow' has two bloom spikes in spite of being moved twice last year-not counting the move from Davis to Napa! Quartziticola is another matter-moved three times after near-death experiences. And Wickensii was a victim of our mid to high 20's last winter. I was pretty sad about that one. You sure have amassed a nice collection Gerhard.

    1. I am excited about my 'Moonglow' also. I got 2 from Devon Boutte. He found them for me in CA. I could not find them in Phoenix. I planted last spring and one is budded now! I am so happy!

    2. 'Moonglow' is such an easy and enthusiastic bloomer. I simply don't understand why it's so difficult to find. Everybody who sees it in flower wants one...

  3. Hi Gerhard, all those aloe buds are very exciting indeed! I look forward to seeing your photos as they bloom.

    Largely influenced by the beautiful aloe images in your blog, I have started a little collection of my own.

    Thanks for the photos and I do appreciate the care you go to in captioning each plant.

    1. I don't much care for winter (I hate the cold), but because of the aloes in our garden I actually do look forward to it in a way.

      I do try to caption each photo correctly because I refer back to my own posts :-).

  4. You're going to have a very colorful new year! I loved the photo of Aloe 'Maui Gem' with its atmospheric background.
    My Aloe wickensii has its first and thus far only bloom spike, which is exciting. I have more Aloe blooms developing this year than ever but that's still a tiny number by comparison to you (and Hoover Boo).

    1. The nighttime photo of 'Maui Gem' was a quick grab shot one evening. But it turned out so well that I will take more the next time we have a foggy night.

      Glad to hear your A. wickensii will flower for the first time. It's such a beauty.

  5. I'm hoping my wickensii blooms this year! Love petricola too -- impossible to pick a favorite among aloes!

    1. I agree, my favorite changes from day to day. Of course that's true throughout the year :-)

  6. Aculeata and vaombe have beautiful flowers--they should provide a great display. So many beautiful Aloe flowers soon in your garden. Looking forward to seeing the show in a future post.

    My 'Yellow Hoodie' produced its first flower stem, too. Bought 10/2017...four years of waiting. Still waiting on wickensii, purchased in 2015.

    The flower stem development slowed here since the weather has cooled off. We might get a real rain next week, fingers crossed.

    1. Your garden is about to have its own aloe flower show very soon!!!

      I wonder what the flowers on 'Yellow Hoodie' will look like. The Rancho Tissue website still doesn't have a photo of the flowers.

      Aloe wickensii: I did some digging on this blog, and I bought mine as a 4-inch plant at Annie's Annuals on February 28, 2014 (see here). It bloomed for the first time in December 2016 (see here) and has flowered every year since then.

  7. I'm guessing your mystery aloe might be Swordfish from Altman plants. Mine is nearly 3ft across and blooms almost year round. It also pups.

    1. Yes, I thought the same. I believe it is 'Swordfish'.

    2. YESSSS! That's what it is. I had bought a 'Swordfish' years ago and had been wondering what had happened to it. I thought it had died or I'd given it away. And there it was all this time! Thank you for solving this mystery!


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