Sunday 14 October 2012

Sadistic sunday

Welcome to the new Spiky Obsession game show "Pamper or Freeze". The rules are very simple you will be shown two plants that take up roughly the same amount of space. One will be brought in and pampered over winter. The other left to struggle in the cold. But which is which, the decision is yours. 

So lets bring out our first contestants, both from South Africa where it is a little warmer than the UK.

Contestant no. 1 is aloe speciosa, also known as the tilt head aloe.  A lovely aloe with perhaps the best flower of all.  This particular plant was grown from seed 3 years ago and is the last remaining from the batch.

Contestant no. 2 is aloe plicatilis, one of the tree aloes. This the the more common tree aloe you will find in collections as it is slightly smaller.  What it lacks in the simple flower it makes up for in that shape.  This plant was grown from a simple cutting a few years ago and flowered for the first time last year.

So there you have them, both spectacular plants worth a place in any collection.  Sadly only one can secure that precious place inside this winter, but which will it be?  The decision is yours.

Without further ado lets bring out our next contestants this time from South America, so please welcome agave chazzaroi and agave bovicornuta

Agave chazaroi is one more recently brought into cultivation, it is one of the varieties with no marginal teeth, instead having a sharp knife like edge.  It is not totally defenceless though with a solid terminal spine.  This plant has been in my collection for two years and has grown constantly during that time.

Agave bovicornuta also known as the cow horn agave on the other hand is known for it marginal teeth.  The young plant is just starting to show the distinctive red and should only get better every year. Another solid grower despite the colder summer.

So I guess the question is do you like your agaves with or without teeth.  Again only one can make it through, the other will have to take its chances out in the cold.  The choice is yours.

Remember you have to vote to ensure your favourite gets the pampering they all deserve.

Now time for the designer plants, the so called lookers of the succulent world and it is back to the aloes with aloe firebird (which i suspect is actually aloe lizard lips) and aloe snowflake.

Aloe firebird, perhaps the only wrongly named plant in the show this week.  To me it looks like aloe lizard lips. Whatever its name  it is a pretty little clumping variety, with strong green and white leaves.  It seems to flower freely even though it is young and I have only had it just over a year.

Aloe snowflake, one of the palest of the small aloes more white that green. Unusually for a pale plant it is a strong grower, clumping quickly and then going on to flower reliably every year. Again this was a single plant which I got it a couple of years back

There they are the models of the aloe world.  Who can deny that they are beautiful plants, but do you prefer green with white specks or white with green specks?

Time our last contestants of the week are less well known aloes, but no less special. Sticking with the miniatures it is aloe lavender beauty and aloe spinosissima variegata

Aloe lavender beauty is not the showiest of the miniatures, it doesn't have the lumps and bumps of some of the new varieties instead going for a simple charm.  It is selected for its colour, a clear lavender, something rarely seen in the aloes. 

Aloe spinosissima variegata doesn't have the most defined variegation, again opting for subtle.  A bit like a compact arborescens which clumps.  Like so many of the miniatures it clumps quickly and has been a good performer.

So there you have them our last contestants in this weeks show.  The choice is subtle colour or subtle variegation.

Right the lines are now open, lets recap over your choices:

Aloe speciosa or aloe plicatilis
Agave charazoi or agave bovicornuta
Aloe firebird (lizard lips) or aloe snowflake
Aloe lavender beauty or aloe spinosissima variegata

Remember you are selecting one plant from each pair purely based on which one you like best. So which ones would save? 

Now the legal bit: no plants were hurt in the making of this reality show.


  1. As you put the Aloe outside will you also say "may the odds always be in your favor"? :)

    1. I hadn't thought of the Hunger Games analogy. Well spotted.

  2. I'll take what's behind door number one. So sad to have to make these choices!

    Aloe plicatilis
    Agave bovicornuta
    Aloe snowflake
    Aloe spinosissima variegata

    1. Oh, you're tough one. The first to vote for your favourites. I love it.

      I really hope others follow suit as I am curious to see which plants people like best.

  3. Replies
    1. It's tough isn't it. I'm amazed at how many people can not bring them selves to make selections, even when it is only a game. The need to protect plants even when they are not ours seems to take over.

  4. Pamper the plicatilis! Here I am pampering my tiny aloe plicatilis seedlings and you just want to leave it out in the cold! But speciosa also looks really cool. Arg this is a stupid game.I hope you have a mild winter.

    1. I love this comment, I pretty much sums up exactly how I feel sometimes. I just about make up my mind and have everything sorted, then at the last minute change it.

      And I agree aloe plicatilis is a lovely plants, as is speciosa ;)

  5. Well, I'm a decider. I'd pamper Aloe speciosa, (c'mon if you personally grew it from seed.), Agave chazaroi, Aloe snowflake, and Aloe lavender beauty. Part of why I would chose that way is rarity/harder to replace if it doesn't make it. If they were my plants I'd also be in favor of plants I've had for longer being pampered first, but then again, I get attached, so it isn't so much a seniority issue, lol!

    1. That's what I like, no fussing around and a good method of selecting between the plants. Rarity is definitely something I take into account, although my attachment tends to come and go.

  6. This is a tough game! Um, there's really only 8 plants btw; so if you can squeeze in 4 plants indoors, I'm sure you can squeeze in 8? :) Worth a try. If possible, maybe you could try stacking them on top of each other; something like this but not too high ( I'm not too familiar with Aloes or Agaves, but if I had to choose, I'd choose the toughest to go outside to battle the weather, will probably make them tougher also, lol. My Aloe plicatilis (smaller than yours) survived Sydney winter this year ok, after repotting too. Great looking plants btw! Good luck. :)

  7. I just discovered your wonderful blog! I am also passionate about succulents in Belgium. Aloe "Lavender" is a marvel, a surprising color! I must try to find it;)

    1. It is an unusual colour, and the fact it keeps it all year unlike some which come and go makes it even more unusual. Can can probably dig you out a bit come spring if you are having problems finding it.

  8. You should win a prize for writing the least cosy gardening post ever. I love the terrible beauty of this.

    1. Thank you, It is interesting that we often kill plant that go out of favour or when a better ones comes along, but when it comes to something like this it is so different and raises so much stronger feeling.