Sunday 17 June 2018

The hardy aloes starting to flower

There are very few aloes that are hardy in the UK. A. striatula and A. Aristata are the two that seem hardy across larger parts of the Uk without needing any protection. Then A. polyphylla and A. saponaria in the warmer parts, or if given protection from the snow and rain. There are a few more people grow, but they seem to be much more variable.

So I grow all 4 in the garden and have had them all flower at different points, A. Polyphylla for the first time last year, but sadly not this year.  The rest are flowering better than ever. 

The photo above shows the largest clump of A. striatula. There are three clumps around the garden, all flowering and two, for once, aphid free.  You can see that it is rampant, and has turned my ordered, tidy succulent bed into more of a jungle.

There are two groups of A. aristata just out of the photo and several in pots.  I have them in pots so they can be moved to fill gaps, or placed next to other aloes in flower.

The A. saponaria I have is a variegated clump.  It started off as one plant, and is now a clump of variegated plants, some better than others. I am always surprised it survives each winter and then flowers. 

This years flower is the best to date. The flowers have good colour and are a decent size. In the morning sun it glows, the photo does not do it justice.

The bees are a bit unsure of the aloe flowers, they are finding out how to access them so seed pods have been few to date.  This year with everything flowering so well, it may be time to try some hybrids. I was thinking about which to try and remembered I already owned an A. aristata x A. striatula which is very disappointing in both looks and hardiness.   So it looks like it is going to be A. aristata x A. saponaria and A. strataula x A. saponaria instead.  To try and ensure the best success, I will be getting the paint brush out to help everything along. 

There are lots of other aloes in flower as well, mainly the smaller ones.  The only larger one in flower is no longer strictly an aloe, but kumara plicatilis. The flowers has lasted really well, holding their colour and not just opening and dieing with in a day or so.

Then you have the haworthias and the aloe x haworthis crosses, but that may have to be another year.

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