Aloe, more than Vera

Aloe, more than Vera

Customer:  “Do you have any of those aloe plants?”

Me:  “Why yes, which ones?”

Customer:  “ Oh you know, those kind that you can break off the leaves to use for burns.”

Me: (to self) “”Oh no, not plant abuse!”  (aloud) “you mean aloe vera, that’s the one commonly used for that.  But you know, there’s so much more to aloes than vera!”

 There might be some serious consequences from my giant aloe veras if you contemplated breaking leaves off of it (he might take you down and sit on you!), affectionately referred to as “papa aloe”.  He’s been in the family since 1982.  At one point he got so big he wouldn’t fit through the door without breaking leaves and juicing all over the carpet.  That’s when I found out that aloe juice stains don’t come out of clothes or carpeting. But I digress.

 

The aloes I want to tell you about today stay on the small side, and don’t give you any lip about being moved through your doorways.  If you’re not familiar with the new hybrids being created you are in for a treat.  Such color! Such texture!         They make outstanding stand-alone displays but also play well with others.                                If there’s room in their pots, some may form “colonies” over  time by growing children around them.  These can be kept together, or divided off and shared with your friends.

 

 The aloes we are showing off right now are called “Sparkler”, “White fox”, “Marmalade”, “Delta Lights”, and “Sunset”.  Their names perhaps hint at why they are special.  Remember what an aloe vera looks like—it is flat greenish-grey, smooth,  and pretty much stays that way.   But many of these new hybrids are not only colorful, but if you touch them you will feel some cool textures.  When viewed from the side and backlit by the sun, their raised markings are easy to see. 

  

Oh, and did I mention that they bloom?  In really strong light indoors, or outside during the warmer months, they will put up a very tall (for their size) flower spike.  The flowers are usually in shades of orange or yellow and can be quite showy.  I think aloes are more forgiving than echeveria in the watering department, keeping their shape and good looks longer on the dry side.  But when their leaves don’t feel as stiff and plump, they are ready for a drink.

Succulent arrangements are so popular and versatile, and we at Calverts have used lots of echeveria-type plants to populate these.  But now you can add these cool babies to the mix, making your containers even more special.

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