Sunday, June 18, 2006

Photo above right is a Protea species.
This is the habitat of Aloe haemanthifolia one of the  rarest aloes - This aloe grows high up in the mountains mostly in crevices of cliffs which gives it the necessary protection against anybody who would like one for some reason.
The trip was the oposite direction from our usual succulent country into the mountains with fynbos vegetation. I do not mind walking on a mountain but driving at speed (any speed faster than a walk) round corners on a wet misty road at a dizzy hight, is not my cup of tea. Rudi had to stop at the look-out spots so that I could unclench my fists and breathe.
A misty morning did not make for the best photo. The proteas were gorgeous. There were many small types and also the well known large pink one.
The rain filtering through the fallen leaves on the ground color the water like tea but I would not advise anybody to drink it! There are many different leaves in that tea and the water is very acid which is what most proteas like.

I would not expect an aloe here anywhere near. Although I know that Aloe plicatilis grows just around the mountain more to the west in the Cape Town area. Aloe plicatilis likes slightly acid to neutral soil and does very well in winter rainfall gardens.
Photo right:
This photo does not give the real impression what this aloe looks like. The thin stiff leaves are large. A foot long (30cm). I would have passed this plant thinking it is a lily of sorts. (The flowers would give it away. )
Good news for the colder wet countries. e.g. Canada, UK and Europe. This aloe is for you !
Photo above left:
Aloe plicatilis is a tree aloe with fans instead of the usual rosettes. It would seem that Aloe haemanthifolia is a large fan without the trunk. Aloe plicatilis grows much lower down than Aloe haemanthifolia and in a larger warmer habitat. Aloe plicatilis does not mind water but unlike Aloe haemanthifolia it grows in a frost free area.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

 Aloes can be enjoyed as a hobby in pots in a room or on a farm - there is more - a fancy or plain container can make a big change in a garden, in fact a garden can be made entirely in containers or pots only (save on weeding).

Aloes do well as pot plants because they do not need a lot of soil around the roots  and Aloes in containers can make very decorative indoor house plants.
Potted aloes can be left without watering for long times
which is very convenient when going on a holiday
Aloe plants which would have been impossible to grow because of cold or too much rain can grow in pots and containers both outside and as indoor house plants. When the weather is bad the potted aloe plants can be brought indoors for a special effect.

How to plant.
Use normal potting soil and mix with about 50% soil with small stones, broken pottery or the loose pieces of packing material(if light weight is needed) for very good drainage.
 photo top of page is by Scot Ross
The containers, plants and photo is from Ben Botha.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

If you want to kill an aloe do it with water, it is not easy to kill an aloe with drought.

The photo above left of Aloe Glauca, an aloe with a beautiful blue rosette, was taken close to two months before the photo on the right. There was a good rain shower two weeks after this photo (left) was taken. Then a month passed and the winter rain arrived with days of rain on and off. The photo above right was taken some 8-10 days after the winter rain began.
After the first shower nothing happened visibly but that rain shower and short interval is necessary for the roots to start swelling out and to get ready for the long wet periods that follow the winter rain.
In the few rare years where the winter rain started without a few preceding short showers we always lost some aloes due to rot. If an aloe is water sparingly but evenly all year round, it seldom rot. If the aloes have a long dry period, especially if the dry period is through a hot summer, watering should be started slowly.
On the photo above to the left of the aloe is Tylecodon. which sent out leaves at the first sign of rain and to the right of Aloe glauca in the background is Aloe ramosissima. It seemed quite all right when it was dry but now that it doubled in size it is obvious that it was shrivelled a lot.
Note on the drought photo how the aloe leaves fold over thus protecting the centre growing point of the rosette.