The last of the aloes

As we approach the end of March, aloe flowering season is winding down. Even though the peak is behind us, there’s still plenty to see – and a few aloes are just now gearing up to bloom.

This post is a collection of photos I took over the last few weeks. We’ve had the most beautiful spring weather, perfect for gardening and for greenhouse building. But the warm and sunny days also accelerated the demise of the aloe flowers that had been hanging on. Maybe I should reward my aloes with a bit of fertilizer now so they’ll be in great shape for next year’s bloom season!

Aloe × spinosissima at the base of the ponytail palm trio

Aloe × spinosissima (right), with Oscularia caulescens (pink-flowering, left)

Aloe aculeata × esculenta. The flowers belong to the bluish plant at the bottom even though it looks like they come from the one on top (Aloe lukeana).

My favorite aloe this season has been a hybrid called ‘Maui Gem’, a cross between Aloe mawii and Aloe globuligemma. Like its parents, it has horizontal racemes, which gives it a very special look.

Back to front, left to right: Aloe ‘Maui Gem’, Hechtia ‘Wildfire’; Hechtia stenopetala; Agave ‘Cornelius’ and a newly moved Aloe pulcherrima

Aloe ‘Maui Gem’ and Hechtia ‘Wildfire’ make an awesome pairing

Hechtia ‘Wildfire’ looks particularly stunning this year, with a deep merlot color

Aloe ‘Maui Gem’ flower closeup

After missing last year, our Aloe alooides is flowering again this year. Its species name is a bit silly (“alooides” means aloe-like), but the spike-like inflorescences are standouts because they’re so different from most aloes. With many densely packed flowers, there’s a lot of nectar. The bees go crazy over it.

Aloe alooides with two inflorescences

The nectar of this species is dark brown

It took a few tries, but I finally got a good photo of a bee deep inside a flower

Lots more to see in the sidewalk bed:

Aloe excelsa flowering for the first time since I rescued it from near death two years ago

Aloe cameronii

Aloe ‘Tangerine’ is almost done flowering, but Leucadendron ‘Jester’ proves that you don’t need flowers to be colorful

Aloe bulbilifera hybrid on the left, Aloe marlothii × zubb in the middle, Aloe ‘Moonglow’ on the right. Notice the giant fennel (Ferula communis) has all but buried Agave ‘Ripple Express’ and Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ × ramosissimum. The leaves are temporary; the plant goes dormant in the summer.

Aloe marlothii × zubb

Last hurrah in the sidewalk bed

Aloe wickensii

Aloe ‘Erik the Red’

Two Aloe peglerae hybrids made by Brent Wigand flowered for the first time:

Aloe peglerae × mawii

Aloe peglerae × ferox (white-flowering ferox), aka Aloe ‘Unicorn’

The last set of aloe flowers are from hybrids made by the ever creative Nick Deinhart. All of them are part Aloe humilis, a small species with wonderfully bumpy leaves.

Aloe (humilis × pratensis) × aculeata

Aloe humilis × ferox (white-flowering form)

Aloe humilis × peglerae

A couple of aloes just now pushing inflorescences:

Aloe humilis × pratensis (another Nick Deinhart hybrid)

Aloe laeta hybrid make by Brian Kemble, the curator of the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Speaking of coming attractions, the first wave of cactus flowers is only a few weeks away:

Echinocereus rigidissimus var. rubispinus

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’

I love that there’s always something to look forward to in the garden!

© Gerhard Bock, 2024. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. I should follow your example and fertilize my aloes in hope of better bloom activity next year, not that I have anything near the number of specimens you do! The yellow-flowered Aloe alooides is impressive. Your Echinopsis 'Flying Saucer' is cute even in its pre-bloom state - it looks like it's got big eyes staring at the viewer.

    1. I don't typically fertilize my in-ground plants on a ongoing basis, but this year I've decided to scatter some slow-release fertilizer. We'll see whether it does anything...

  2. That's quite a variety in flower morphology - had no idea Aloe was so diverse. Aloe alooides is certainly a showstopper and quite different than A. 'Maui Gem'.

    1. Aloes really do come in all shapes and sizes. And hybrids expand the range even more.

  3. Maui Gem is indeed a gem. Quite an unusual inflorescence. Perfect pairing of the Leucodendron and aloe. Prolongs the show. Gotta love the progression of blooms in the Spring when everyone is full of optimism for a great growing season.

    1. Some plants in my garden are in a continuous game of musical chairs, others (like 'Maui Gem') are here to stay forever.

  4. So many colorful, beautiful plants, and they looks so healthy and happy. The light conditions and color of your photos really cheered me up. Thank you!

  5. Your Aloes are wonderful, Gerhard! I just purchased an Aloe sinkatana x rauhii today at our cactus meeting and it has the prettiest color of yellow/orange flowers! I love Aloes!

    1. Your Aloe sinkatana x rauhii looks like a great small aloe - perfect for containers or for planting at the very front of a garden bed.

  6. The 'Bee in Aloe alooides' photo is precious!
    My all time favorite vignette in your garden is the ponytail palm trio, from any angle and with whatever is in peak bloom skirting its base at the time. It just makes me happy.
    Is there anything in the small pot that's resting at the ponytail shade?

    1. When I planted those ponytail palms, everybody said they wouldn't make it through their first winter. Here we are, 10+ years later :-)

      The plant in pot resting under the ponytail palms is a shade-tolerant Mexican cycad, Ceratozamia aurantiaca.

  7. Gorgeous photos of your aloes. They really bring in Spring so perfectly. The Maui Gem is great. Hechtia 'wildfire', I know I've mentioned it before but it is really a stunner, that color! Aloe alooides with the bees, great show.

    1. Hechtia 'Wildfire' colors up so intensely that it looks fake!

  8. That 'Maui Gem' is very appealing.
    Here my alooidies has never flowered. Nice to see what the bloom looks like. The form is very similar to tauri and castanea. Aloe vera is in full flower and A. pseudorubroviolacea stems are just emerging. A. elgonica is a very reliable summer bloomer here and supposedly so is A. tomentosa. My big fat thriving tomentosa has never flowered, perhaps it is too dry in summer or perhaps it hates me. There's always 'Rooikappie' and 'Cynthia Gitty' for near year-round.

    1. My alooides is in bright shade, maybe that's why? Ultimately, plants do what they want to.

      My tomentosa hasn't flowered either. Every year I wonder if it's big enough, and every year I'm disappointed. Maybe this summer will be the right time!


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