Warmer January days enjoyed by plants and people alike

January 2022 has been dry (only 0.18" of rain so far) and increasingly warm. Yesterday, January 25, we hit an afternoon high of 69°F. The sun feels good to people and plants alike. According to the calendar, spring is still months away, but the air already has a hint of spring in it. Seeing how winter is my least favorite season, I welcome any sign of spring no matter how small or faint.

Sidewalk bed

Let's take a look at some of the plants in the garden. After all, they're the focus of this blog. Plants may not have “feelings,” but they respond enthusiastically when the going is good.

The aloe bloom is still in its early stages. As always, Aloe 'Moonglow', a fantastic hybrid by South African breeder Leo Thamm/Sunbird Aloes, and Aloe petricola lead the charge.

Left: Aloe petricola  Right: Aloe 'Moonglow'

Left: Aloe petricola  Right: Aloe 'Moonglow'

Aloe 'Moonglow'. The agave on the bottom left is Agave macroacantha

Back: Aloe 'Moonglow'  Front: Yucca baccata var. vespertina 'Hualampai Blue'

Other aloes are close to flowering:

Aloe aculeata, showing some cold damage (especially at the top)

Aloe ferox × capitata

Aloe 'Tangerine' (a hybrid between Aloe ferox and Aloe arborescens)

Aloe hoffmannii × ericetorum, a Nick Deinhart hybrid

Aloe 'Swordfish', a Kelly Griffin hybrid

Usually, Veltheimia capensis, the Cape lily, blooms at the same time as the aloes. This year, it's ahead of the aloes:

Veltheimia capensis, one of my favorite South African bulbs

A few companion plants now flowering:

Cantua volcanica, a small subshrub from Peru

Gazania 'Sunbathers Katua'

But who says you need flowers to make an impact?

Aloe marlothii × globuligemma, ×Mangave 'Pineapple Punch', ×Mangave 'Night Owl'

Agave 'Ripple Express', a variegated sport of 'Mr. Ripple'

Agave desmetiana 'Joe Hoak'

Dudleya pachyphytum × caespitosa

Dudleya pachyphytum bowl, with NOID Hechtia hybrid on the right

Roldana petasitis

Billbergia 'Beadleman'

Top: Hechtia 'Silver Star'  Bottom: Hechtia 'Oaxaca Sunset'

Did I mention how eager I am to leave winter behind?

© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. Hello Gerhard,

    Do you keep your Dudleya pachyphytum plants outside during the winter? They look great and healthy. I kept mine outside (S.F) and it just rotted and died out a few weeks ago. I don't know why and I lost one last year too -- same situation.

    Thank you!

    1. In my (limited) experience, Dudleya pachyphytum rots fairly easily when kept too moist AND in too much shade. Mine are in half sun and I haven't had a problem. The soil in that bowl is about 50% pumice, 50% cactus mix.

      I did cover the bowl during the last couple of rainstorms because the soil was so saturated already, but I didn't protect it against the cold per se. The lowest we got in the backyard was around 30°F for a few hours one night.

  2. I want more winter! Winter = rain.

    Your plants do look lovely, though. And the sun on a cool day rather than a hot one is a delight.

    My aculeata seems to flower at random times, sometimes Feb, sometimes July. Your petricola is ahead of mine!

    1. How about a compromise: Early spring PLUS rain? I'm definitely ready for more rain, BUT I don't want to go back to 50°F.

      Good to hear your A. aculeata flowers at random times. Does it flower *multiple times* a year then? Or only once?

    2. The oldest aculeata has flowered twice two years in a row. The others are not yet flowering size

  3. My last post was also on spring's seemingly early arrival; however, like Hoover Boo, I'm still hoping for a whiplash reversal to winter mode with rain in February and March (despite the inauspicious long-term forecasts). Your Aloe collection is impressive. Boosted by the first blooms on Aloe 'Moonglow' (received from Denise/AGO as cutting just last July) and Aloe wickensii, I'm focused on adding more Aloes to my back slope. Most of the Aloes in my small and less diverse collection are still bloom-less.

    The Cantua flowers are sweet - how large does the shrub grow?

    1. Your back slope would be a fantastic place for aloes, combined with Agave attenuata, which is doing so well there already!

      Cantua volcanica has remained small. You can see the entire plant in photos 1-4, between and in front of Agave macroacantha and Aloe 'Moonglow'. It's been in the ground 4-5 years now.

  4. In my mind, it's often the supporting cast that makes the vignettes so special, a point demonstrated well in the first few photos of the sidewalk bed. And as always, Aloe 'Tangerine' takes the cake for me... Yowza!

    1. I try to combine plants in such a way that everyone gets a turn in the spotlight. It's aloe time now, but in the summer, the shrubs and perennials get to shine. And agaves are beautiful year round.

  5. We are in the 30 to 32 range every morning for the last couple of weeks. I have a few things I cover but so far everything has survived just fine. The high 20's are always a challenge. None of that so far and those 20 temps are usually a done deal when Feb rolls around. I'm hoping for 5 or 6 more inches of rain before June.

    1. That's significantly colder than here. We had 39°F this morning, 37°F in the coldest spot in the yard (I have 5 temperature sensors). That's much too cold for my liking, but daytime highs (fortunately) have been in the 60s.

      I'm also ready for more rain!

  6. Beautiful photos, especially the first few with the Agave americana, 'Mediopicta Alba' catching the light. We've had quite a few sunny days recently, guaranteed to get my spring fever going. Unfortunately sunny days mean cool nights (26 Saturday morning, burr!). I cannot wait to put winter behind me.

    1. You and I are on the same page where winter is concerned! I get so envious when I see photos from Southern California!

  7. The blooming aloes are always striking but it's the agaves that really grab me in your garden. They are so architectural and you have some great specimens. We keep alternating between Spring weather and short-lived viciously cold periods. My willows are in full bloom so concerned what actual Spring might bring in terms of plant mortality.

    1. Thank you! The aloes get to shine in the winter, but you're right, the agaves look great year round!

      Alternating between spring weather and cold snaps is the worst. I hope you'll be in the clear soon!


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